For those of you who happen to look at Lanier Shooting Sports or GRITS on Facebook, you’ll see that I’ve recently become a self-professed “Quack Addict.” Now, as with all addictions, there were outside forces that played a part in this as well as apparent pre-disposed genetic traits that have lead me to love shooting in general.
The outside force would be a couple I met two years ago, Wayne and Betsy Holden. Wayne brought Betsy for shooting lessons with me. They have a wonderful farm on the Delmarva Peninsula/Atlantic flyway. Betsy wanted to become a more proficient duck hunter and Wayne, and avid duck hunter from childhood, is her biggest cheerleader. During the lessons, they talked and talked, on and on, about the joys of duck hunting and I just smiled and secretly thought they were nuts. Eventually they talked me into at least trying it. “OK, OK,” I said, “but I am not going to wear camo.” No way Jose! Never say never is all I can now admit. And eat a lot of crow...yuk. Duck is much better.
Since that fateful first lesson, we have become great friends and they have led me into this complete duck addiction that I can’t seem to get over. It’s so bad that the other night I had a dream that I shot a duck, only wounding him, and I chased him across a field, about 250 yards before I prevailed and low and behold, he had not one, but two bands. OK, so that is a pretty bad addiction when I am dreaming like that.
The second sign, one that will lead you to believe it is going to take more than a 12-step intervention, is that I’m no longer borrowing the camo, but buying it. Yep! It’s true. And not only that, I’m enduring a lot of teasing for sporting camo face paint. After flaring a group of ducks from the sun hitting my face, I asked for some swamp mud to wipe on. My guide told me he had something better... and handed me a camo face painting stick. A good duck hunter’s foundation. I wonder if it had moisturizers built in? Such fun, I loved it! And I figured not a soul would know... I just forgot I had on it when we took the picture!
So this GRITS girl is ready to meet the Robertsons and learn some duck-calling tricks. On that note, I have a very long way to go to learn the art of calling but hey, the calls look really cool hanging around your neck. Really though, I just can’t go that far until I learn how to use them. I did, however, sport a duck call necklace to a dinner party!
In honor of this time of year, and to the love of shooting waterfowl and all the women and men who encourage us, in this month’s column we’re going to have some camo and waterfowl shooting fun. There’s something so special about the whole feathered shooting experience. Being outside, watching the art of the hunts, the expertise in the calls of waterfowl, decoy placement and how it changes daily, and even the amazing dogs who live for the joy of the hunt. My second ever duck hunt had four seasons in one day: Wet snow, cold rain, warm wind and then sun. Nature in all of its beauty each day, even each hour, can be so very different.
Also, as promised earlier in this column, each month we’ll highlight an upcoming event. This month is one not to be missed. We bring you a British Driven Game Shooting Academy with Chris Batha.
Happy Hunting and a very Happy New Year. Welcome 2015!
Getting Ready for the Hunt
Wayne Holden gets us to our blinds in fun fashion with a restored Willys Jeep that I believe will go anywhere. Gearing up are Mimi Wingfield, Margot Rawlings, our guide and Betsy Holden. Wayne is cheering us on.
The decoys are carefully placed according to the wind. What an absolutely beautiful afternoon for a late day hunt.
Watching Ace ready to retrieve his next duck.
This camo semi-auto is ready for some action!
A banded mallard drake (half my crazy dream did come true. I know there are only single bands but the dream was great anyhow). And the best news is that I didn’t have to chase him 250 yards…he came down with the first shot.
Nothing like seeing someone you watched learn to shoot get her first duck. Pictured here is Debbie Clay who I’ve watched shoot her first dove, her first pheasant and other firsts in upland hunting but nothing like her first duck. She was excited and I was for her too. This duck’s head remained intact for those of you who know her.
A wonderful day of duck hunting on the Delmarva Peninsula. We’re at the Holden’s farm, The Texas Ranch, (in Delaware). I realize the name would lead you to believe I was very geographically confused about where we were hunting. Yes, there’s a story behind the name of the ranch. Pictured here are Debbie Clay, Betsy Holden, Margot Rawlings, Mimi Wingfield and yours truly.
Christmas Eve morning Ryan Bassham and his wife, Marissa, took their daughter out for her first duck hunt. In his words: “My wife and I have hunted together since high school. For Zoe’s first hunt we went to a friend’s property near our home in Rockwall. It is a really easy set up and short walk so I had been waiting for the property to load up with birds especially for Zoe’s first hunt. Despite the cold temperature, Zoe toughed it out for two hours until she was just about frozen. We went at her pace and made sure that she was our first priority. The goal wasn’t necessarily to shoot a limit of ducks but instead make absolutely sure that she had a great time and would want to go back. She loved watching the ducks lock their wings and drop in to the decoys. We ended up shooting a variety of redheads, wigeon and gadwall. She now loves hunting with mom and dad. Hopefully, her little sister will feel the same when she is old enough to go and I can take all three of my pretty girls with me.”
I personally really think this is the most fabulous father/daughter photo I have ever seen. Here’s to parents who nurture their children’s love and respect of the shooting sports. Ryan Bassham is a hunt consultant with www.GetDucks.com.
Ryan Bassham’s annual Christmas Eve hunt and the beautiful and festivered and green showed up for the occasion!
Great Waterfowl Huntresses and Mentors to many other women
Pictured here is Mia Anstine hunting in Louisiana with a group of women at their annual “Girl’s Hunt Out” sponsored by Becky Lou Outdoors at Doug’s Hunting Lodge in Lake Arthur, Louisiana. In Mia’s words, referring to hunting blue winged teal, “Hunting the mini F-14s can be a blast, literally. It's so much fun to bag the beautiful blue winged teal, and the beauty of the marsh is incomparable!” We would agree whole-heartedly. Mia is an outdoor writer, outfitter and all around great lady who is constantly mentoring and encouraging women of all ages to get out and give the hunting and shooting sports a try! More about Mia can be found at http://www.miaanstine.com.
Judy Rhodes, founder of the Texas DIVAS, has been a waterfowl huntress and advocate of women shooters for many years. Her passion for hunting anything, and especially waterfowl, goes without saying. Judy loves to travel, hunting all over the world, an impressive 295 days in 2014. She has gone sandhill crane hunting in Texas (pictured here), and as far as South Africa to hunt spur-winged geese. When it comes to introducing women to waterfowling, she knows how to do it! www.DIVAwow.org.
Judy mentoring these women on their third hunt. I’d say they did quite well. Pictured here, left to right are: Judy Rhodes, Elizabeth Hester, Andrew Shelley (guide) and Marietta Johnson.
My first duck hunt to Louisiana and for those who know me, my first camo face painting day as well! It’s a wonderful sport that I’m so happy to have been “drug” into...hence my “quack addiction.” Use caution when considering your first hunt, it can be habit forming! Pictured here with me are Betsy Holden, and no, our guide was not from the show Duck Dynasty but he could have been. A great guide and a great guy!
A fantastic finish to a wonderful day of duck hunting.
Consider looking into Prois Hunting and Field Apparel for Women for lots of women’s hunting clothing options as well as Drake Waterfowl Systems. Both companies have excellent products and customer service.
A Great Upcoming Event
In March 2015, Chris Batha will host a British Game Shooting Academy with me and Roger Hill. There’s no argument that driven game hunting is the most exciting and challenging of all the wingshooting sports. If it’s on your wingshooting bucket list, then this clinic is one you shouldn’t miss. Accompanying Chris will be yours truly and the very respected and experienced British Shooting Instructor, Roger Hill, who will be flying in for this event. Together, the three of us will lead you through two days of instruction covering everything from shooting lingo minutiae through footwork, stance and proper gun mounts to actual simulated driven shooting of grouse, pheasants and partridge. For more information on this clinic contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-254-2406
Happy New Year everyone!
Elizabeth Lanier is a highly regarded shooting instructor based in Virginia. She loves teaching men, women and children and introducing them to all the joys that recreational shooting brings forth! Founder of the G.R.I.T.S. (Girls Really Into Shooting), she is a leading advocate of women in the shotgun sports and this fall will be planning shooting events centered around the G.R.I.T.S. mission of shooting for the pure fun of it as well as planning trips for not only women, but everyone. Visit the Lanier Shooting Sports web site at http://laniershootingsports.com.