The Grind: Part 3

When I first announced the release of the Mobile Shop I had one goal in mind…. Create a one of a kind, unique experience. I wanted to offer hunters the ability to actually see a duck call be made from start to finish and then take it to the field the next day to hunt. It was a serious undertaking. Ultimately, I wanted to create a “shop on wheels” that was inviting and comfortable for customers to visit as I made their calls. After a lot of determination, it finally came to fruition in July 2018. Tim was one of the first to call and book it for his duck camp, Cypress Run in Northeast Arkansas.  

Whenever I visit new camps, I’m never exactly sure what to expect. Some are more intense, while others are more laid back, go with the flow type camps. 

The legendary 3 story blind. Photo: Edward Wall/Wall Media

The legendary 3 story blind. Photo: Edward Wall/Wall Media

With the Mobile Shop in tow, Edward and I rolled into Cypress Run unsure of which end of the spectrum to expect. We were greeted by Jim, Tim, and Puddin. They couldn’t have been more laid back, but excited at the same time. No doubt that these guys liked to shoot ducks, but also evident was the community atmosphere that was present at their camp. We quickly got situated and then set out, beverage in hand, to check out the legendary 3 story blind.

We got the grand tour of the blind, which included bathroom, kitchen, and crow’s nest. It was truly amazing to see a blind of this magnitude. It was approaching sunset so we quickly got out as a few mallards flew over searching for a place to roost for the night. Seeing these ducks gave us great hope for the next morning’s hunt.

Back at camp, the full “crew” hadn’t arrived so we decided to go grab some Mexican food at the local hotel. It was good food, great service, and of course excellent conversation.

Cypress Run Lodge. Photo: Edward Wall/Wall Media

Cypress Run Lodge. Photo: Edward Wall/Wall Media

When we first arrived at Cypress Run, I really didn’t have a chance to look around the lodge which turned out to be one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. The mounts alone blew me away. These guys put a ton of thought into the design and construction and they take great pride in what they have, as they should. It’s a beautiful place that any duck hunter could appreciate.

We arose early the next morning, sipped on some Raggio Custom Coffee, and set out to the blind. As with most camps, everyone has a specific “job” to do. Some are in charge of decoys, or food, or boats, etc… Cypress Run is no different, and it runs like a well oiled machine. The one thing I couldn’t get over was just how hospitable and accommodating everyone was. They genuinely enjoyed having guests and went above and beyond to make sure we were taken care of.  

At shooting light, I started out on the bottom level with Stevie, Tim, and the dogs. Despite the sign that said “guest are not to use their duck call”, they allowed me to break that rule. That said, every group has a different idea of how to “work” ducks. I knew Stevie was one of the main callers of the group, and a dang good one at that, so I purposely set up next to him to get a feel for how he would be calling. 

A setting like that can be difficult from a calling aspect. If multiple guys are calling, they can actually screw each other up if they are calling at different groups of ducks, meaning one may be hail calling loud at a group and possibly not see a group about to finish. The result can be “blowing” ducks out of the hole. It’s always good, in certain situations, for callers to be able to communicate and be sure they are calling and seeing the same group of ducks. 

The ducks weren’t cooperating so we decided to take a breakfast break. Tandy cooked an unbelievable breakfast! There’s nothing like eggs, bacon, and biscuits on a cold morning in the duck blind. After giving it a valiant effort, we headed back to the lodge with a few Gadwall on the stringer. 

The afternoon was spent making calls in the Mobile Shop, passing out the new calls, and tuning them for each member. It was an absolute blast seeing how everyone reacted to their new duck calls and an accepted challenge for me to get them all tuned for each individual. We closed the shop up later that night and enjoyed dinner, drinks, and a lots and lots of laughs. 

The best thing about traveling with my best friend, Edward Wall, is that he is pure entertainment. He’s got great stories and could make a stone wall grin from ear to ear. He is also an incredible photographer and captured some unbelievable images from the weekend that will be shared and talked about for years to come. (All photos in this post by Wall Media)

The next morning was spent in a different blind. We managed to get there in between rain showers, but unfortunately, the rain was relentless throughout the morning. Conversation shifted from ducks, or lack thereof, to business, weather, retrievers, hunting experiences, then back to ducks and the lack thereof. 

All in all, it was an unforgettable experience. New friends and duck calls were made, and that makes any trip a memorable one. I’m grateful to Tim and the members at Cypress Run for opening up their camp to Edward and I for a few days. 

To sum up the past 10 days, I visited 3 different outfitters/camps that normally each shoot between 1000-2000 ducks per year. Over 10 days of hunting, the total ducks killed was less than 20. Why was this? Weather, water, and food are all factored into why we weren’t seeing ducks. It’s been unseasonably warm, not “forcing” ducks to travel south. The ones that have made it here are so scattered due to the amount of water in the delta right now. There were just no concentration of ducks in AK, LA, or MS during my trip. It’s been an off year as far as duck numbers go and while the numbers were scarce, the moments with old friends and now new ones more than made up for it.   

Photo: Edward Wall/Wall Media

Photo: Edward Wall/Wall Media

Next I’ll shift gears a little and talk about some collection pieces in my shop.

Stay tuned….


Erin RaggioComment