Thursday, March 31, 2011

The BEAUTY of the Hunt.

“Why on earth do you go out there that early to hunt a duck”?  This is a question that I am often asked.  It is also a question that I have a hard time answering.  Not because I don’t have an answer, but because I don’t have an answer that they would understand.  Anyone who has never been out there does not know what they are missing. 

As Buckman has already said hunting is not all about the kill.  For me hunting is largely the beauty of nature, God’s creation.  Every morning of a hunt, the day starts out dark with a glimmer of light in the east.  The promise of a new day.  As the sky begins to lighten nature begins to awaken.  Birds begin to call and before my unworthy eyes a new day is born. 

As I watch the sky turns red then gold as the sun begins to reach the horizon.  While for most this is a quiet time before the beauty of the sun rises, for me this is when the fun begins.  Ducks begin to fly and call, the hunt is on.  As I said the hunt is only part of what I am there for but it is the backbone for all that I witness. 

Before you know it the sun is peaking up through the trees and the day is here.  We finish our hunt and gather to eat and talk about how we did.  This only last a few minutes but it is worth  getting up early in the cold to witness. 

There is simply something magical and spiritual about seeing a sunrise while you are on the water or in the woods.  Almost every morning I watch the sun rise as I ride to work but it is just not the same.  It is missing the luster that comes with seeing it while you are in nature. 

Granted, I could watch this on most any Saturday, but without the hunt it is hard to get up and get out.  I know what I am missing but cannot rouse myself to go see it.  If you have never experienced sunrise while you were part of nature then I strongly urge you to do so.  You will not be disappointed.  Thank goodness turkey season starts tomorrow.  Another excuse to visit God’s creation.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sportsmen: Conservationists

Sportsmen seem to stay under fire for their favorite pastimes.  People want to bash sportsmen for killing animals, but never want to take the time to give them credit for all the positive things they do.
     Sportsmen were the first conservationists.  A hundred years ago sportsmen like Teddy Roosevelt took the time to try to save some of the last wild places before they were swallowed up by industrialization and agriculture.  Because of Teddy Roosevelt we now have national parks for everyone to enjoy.
    Each year hunters spend millions of dollars on duck stamps.  They also donate millions of dollars to conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, Quail Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
        Sportsmen were the first group to realize that the wild lands and wild life they enjoyed were limited resources, and that if they wanted to continue to enjoy these resources, and wanted these resources to remain for the enjoyment of future generations, they must be protected.
     For this reason sportsmen started those organizations to protect the resources they love.  Unlike so many individuals and groups, sportsmen try to give more than they take.
    It is with this mindset that we work on Briary River.  It is our desire to improve at lest a little bit of habitat for wildlife.  Many more ducks benefit from the improved habitat than the few we kill.  Ducks are not the only wildlife that benefit.  Song birds, egrets and herons all benefit, as well as many other types of wildlife.
    True sportsmen realize that it is not how much you take away from the field that determines how successful you are, but rather how much you leave behind.  Here we want to leave more for our children than we found.  That’s the Briary River Way.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Busting the Dam

How do you plant in a beaver pond?  This is the question that we have been working on for several years now.  We decided right away that we needed to drain the pond first. This however, posed its own question,        HOW? 

 We knew that we had to bust the dam, but no one could decide on the best option.    Given that we are a bunch of guys and that most guys love to tear things up, we started getting some really interesting ideas.  The problems with these ideas were as diverse as the ideas themselves.  Trust me if we had followed some of them, I may not have been able to type this now due to lack of fingers or worse.  In the end we decided that the best way to do this was through good old fashioned elbow grease and sweat.  So last spring (after more debate than is seen in congress) we decided that it was time to start busting the dam.  

I am not sure where beavers get their degree in dam building but it is a doctorate(if beavers had built the levees in New Orleans and had access to concrete, they would have never broke).  We decided that hoes and axes would probably be the best thing for busting this.  Oh wait, we actually decided a backhoe would be best for this, but no one could figure out how to make it float.  Looking at a beaver dam is very deceiving.  All you see is mud.  That is easy enough, right.    Just dig the mud out to the side of the dam that the water is going to go on, WRONG.  That easy to move layer of mud is just the decoration of the dam.  Inside there is a mesh of sticks, logs, tree roots, and anything else that you would wonder; just how does a beaver manage to find this, much less pick it up?  Because of this were only able to tear out about 4-6 inches at a time.  We would go in a scrape chop dig and drag until the water started pouring over what we were doing until we could not see what we were chopping and pulling on.  At this point we would have to stop and wait a day or two (usually 4-5 but that was because we just could not get back out there) for the water to go down so we could see to work again.  Funny thing about beavers, they do not appreciate a bunch of guys putting holes in their dam.  Apparently since they do not duck hunt they do not see the importance of what we were doing.  Every time we went back they had refilled the holes.  The good news was that the water had dropped some in the amount of between us busting it and the beavers filling it back in.  Also, even though beavers a master builders it takes time for their work to be permanent.  When we came back all we had to do was pull all of sticks and branches out that the beavers had packed in, and them drag the fresh mud out.  Normally the water level would be at the bottom or slightly above the bottom of this new rebuild.  Then the fun of scraping, chopping, digging, and dragging would resume.

After doing this every chance we got in the spring (which was not as often as it should have been) we had the pond down to a decent level.  Then everyone got busy (My wife thought that the birth of my daughter took precedence, and I have to agree.) and we could not get out and keep it busted.  The beavers completely rebuilt the dam and the pond refilled.  However all of this was not in vain.  While the pond was drained some natural vegetation had a chance to take root and grow.  While this was not exactly what we were hoping to accomplish it was better than nothing.  The ducks came into natural vegetation and we had a better hunting season than we have had in many years.  

Well as soon as this year ended we decided that it was time to bust it again.  We had all summer, fall, and part of the winter to get some plans made and to come up with our best idea yet, THE BRIARY RIVER WAY (Visit us at and on YouTube at  ) .  We jumped in on the dam as soon as the season was over with.  I was expecting what we had to deal with last year, and expected to have it down by mid spring.  Luckily though when we started back where we were working last year, we found that it was a lot easier.  Also we decided to do something about the root of the problem, the beavers.  After lots of checking, double checking, and then checking again (like we have said we are not wealthy people and cannot afford a fine and let’s face it I am to pretty for jail.) we found that we were legal and put out conibear traps.  We managed to get the dam tore out in weeks instead of months.  We caught three beavers and the rest got smart.  I went yesterday and there is only small stream of water running through the pond, and the beavers are not going anywhere near those traps.  So now the pond is drying out some and we are getting ready to put a Clemson beaver pond leveler in.
 Don’t worry we will keep you updated.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Briary River Way

The Briary River Way

            What do duck hunters do in the off season?  Well, for us there is no off season.  Different seasons bring about different chores.  Some of them are fun, some are not so much fun.  Usually the fun stuff gets done, and the not-so-fun stuff gets pushed to the side.  Then comes hunting season, and the not-so-fun stuff that got put aside comes back to light.  It then either stays to the side or gets done during hunting season, either way it’s not good.
            After hunting season this year the cogs in my mind began turning.  What can we do to make the time between hunting seasons more fun?  The results of these cogs turning has become the Briary River Way.  It’s been lots of fun filming all that we have been doing over the past few weeks.  We haven’t shared much with you yet, but it’s coming!   We are learning as we go and trying to make what we do as fun for you as it is for us.
            We have been working on draining the beaver pond.  This is not nearly as much fun as hunting ducks, so you may wonder why we take the time.  We drained the pond last spring with the intention of planting something for a fall food source for ducks.  I don’t remember now if we ran out of funds or time, maybe both.  It really does not matter.  We didn’t get the pond planted.  Our work was not in vain though.  With the water down more native plants grew.  Some of these plants had seed heads.  Others simply provided cover for wood ducks.  We had more ducks roost in the pond than we’ve had in years.  Draining the pond for the summer was a good thing even though we didn’t manage to get it planted like we had planned.
            This year the pond was easier to drain.  We went back to the same spot we busted the dam last year and busted it there again this year.  We didn’t have to chop roots out with the ax like we did last year.  We have lots of exposed mud flats this year.  We are going to plant Japanese millet and rice on the mud flats.  We want to see what grows best and we also want to see if we can draw more ducks into the pond.  Just the chance of that makes it worth our time.
            Besides draining the beaver pond there are many things we do between hunting seasons.  There are more blinds to be built and placed.  There are dogs to train.  There are decoys to be repaired and livened up.  There are waders and boats to repair, paddles to make, and of course there are shooting skills to be maintained and improved.  That’s only what we do to hunt ducks.  We hunt other things as well and enjoy fishing from time to time.
            Come back by, check out what we are doing.  You may be able to give us some advice, or get a few tips yourself.  You may even get a few laughs as we work between seasons, the Briary River Way.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Who we are.

Here at Brairy River we are not professional hunters.  We are average guys who are trying to take what we have and turn it into something better.  It is a long process and we are taking our time.  We have full-time jobs and we have to work when we get a chance.

The main characters in The Briary River Way are Bucky (the boss) he is the head of Briary river since he has been there the longest and he started all of it.  Joe (I dont know what you would call me)  I am like the right hand man.  I help with 95 percent of the pond work and do most of the technical work. Bernie (Bucky's brother)  Bernie is our builder, he designs our blinds and adds comic relief.  Coach (the old man)  Coach is a great friend and mentor to the rest of us.  He always has some story or comment to put things into perspective.  Tracy (another of Bucky's brothers) Tracy is our camera man.  He also helps with alot of the pond work and is doing some of the editing work on the videos.  Casey (the last of the brothers but older than Tracy by less than 20 minutes)  Casey is our musician.  He wrote our theme song and he does a little of the pond work.  And last but not lease Bo (Buck's son)  while he is only 5 he has been with us since he was almost 3.  He  loves duck hunting and is learning fast.  There is also a few others but i will hold off on them until we are more certain of their roles.

We have had a lot of great times at Briary River and we find that the fellowship is one of the elements that makes our sport what it is.   When we are not giving advice and updating you on what we are doing on the pond we will share some of our stories that we think you would enjoy.

We are trying to create a habitat that will bring more ducks to our pond so we can have great hunts and our children will have a place to hunt.  While one goal is great hunting we also want a place for the ducks that survive to have a place to thrive and reproduce.    We will be sharing all of this with you and welcome any ideas, comments and advice that you may have for us.  Please follow along with us on our journey and have a few with us and occasionally at our expense.