Monday, May 4, 2009

2005 Filming of Ducks Unlimited TV in Oklahoma

Hunt Host Tom McCaskill, his Dad Mack McCaskill and Wade Bourne with DU TV - 11/18/2005 
Any avid sportsman would truly rather be outdoors than in front of the television. In the case that one cannot go afield, there is always cable channels offering a variety of sporting programming. Ducks Unlimited is just one well-known conservation group that produces a television program. I was fortunate enough to travel to Oklahoma in November 2005 and witness the behind-the-scenes action while DU TV filmed a new episode.
Love this photo, but it takes some explaining.
A second TV camera was set up at my location.
First Camera filmed dog run, and second filmed dog jump!
The setting was Lincoln County, in a protected marsh along the Deep Fork River. The Central Flyway extends from Canada, through the Dakotas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and into Mexico. The Drunken Duck Lodge, where we stayed, had long since placed its 600 acres under conservation easement with the federal Wetlands Reserve Program, and Ducks Unlimited had been involved in recent years completing habitat improvement projects on the property. So the stage was set for some exciting late season hunting – for enjoyment and for the DU TV crew.
DU TV host Wade Bourne was present, along with two cameramen and a sound man. We learned that the entire taping would be made with High Definition (HD) cameras, and that they would film for three days. Joining them at the DD Lodge were two dog trainers and their Chesapeake Bay retrievers, who were there to retrieve the on camera ducks. Other hunters staying at the DD lodge included the owner, Tom McCaskill, his father Mac McCaskill, and his nephew Will Schwarz, plus an executive from Ducks Unlimited.
Oklahoma serves up large flocks of big ducks
Wade Bourne was completing his third year as host of the Ducks Unlimited television show. He gives the introductions and voiceovers for each of the 13 episodes made each season. He previously hosted the Advantage Outdoors television program for seven years. He has a daily radio show where he can vary the topic from season to season, and he is also an avid fisherman. He has written five books, including two for DU: Decoys and Proven Methods for Using Them and Ducks Unlimited’s Guide to Hunting Dabblers.
The first morning of hunting brought us balmy temperatures, and low water levels were due to severe drought. Though the DU TV duck blind had a successful hunt, the story seemed to be the large number of ducks, specifically pintails, that were seen on an adjacent pothole. One of the best strategies in waterfowling is to hunt where the birds already want to be. Mr. Bourne knows this well, and the rest of the first day was dedicated to building a new blind on the nearby pothole. Keeping in mind that late-season waterfowl are wary of hunters, add the fact that DU TV duck blinds must also conceal cameras, and a well-camouflaged duck blind is essential.
This was the tally for several hunters that day,
but the quality of our harvest remains outstanding.
The cameramen came back to the lodge in the middle of the day and did some extra filming, interviewing the dog trainers, the DD owner and the DU executive. The episode first aired in the Fall of 2006. Other activities at the lodge that afternoon included rounding up extra pintail decoys, cleaning out the now muddy ARGO amphibious vehicles that carry the hunters into the marsh and scouting out where the waterfowl roost on the property come sunset.
That evening the nearby town of Chandler, OK had their annual Ducks Unlimted Chapter banquet and fundraiser. One of the most sought after items of the live auction was a DU TV hat signed by host Wade Bourne, which followed his speech about how local dollars mean so much to DU.
The second day of hunting brought slightly better hunting conditions, with cooler temps and some wind. The DU TV blind had a great day of hunting, bagging nine mallards, and two pintails. The film crew noted they had some remarkable footage of the large number of pintails circling their duck blind. Remember, the federal limit on pintails is only one duck per day. The Chesapeake retrievers Dash and Sly performed admirably on cue, fulfilling one of DU’s conservation messages that hunting waterfowl with retrievers leads to fewer lost birds.
Still thankful for time spent at the Drunken Duck LLC
After a morning hunt, the final day of filming included winding up some interviews, swapping some waterfowl recipes and practicing retriever training in the pond. The mutual feeling of goodwill that pervades when like-minded hunters gather together was present all weekend. From a hunting perspective, opportunities abounded, and a large variety of ducks species were taken by all the hunters, including mallards, pintails, gadwalls, green-winged teal, shovelers, ring-necks and a couple of Canada geese.

We came together to support the conservation efforts of Ducks Unlimited television. The teamwork mentality demonstrated during the filming, speaks volumes about the die-hard supporters Ducks Unlimited serves, and provides hope for the future of waterfowling.

Media Mentor Wade Bourne and I in 2013.
Still friends and both still writing.

To view past blog entries about Ducks Unlimited click on The DU Story book - DU Magazine - NAWCA - 75th Ann. Capital Hill Diamond Dinner - 2010 SC DU State Banquet - 2011 Santee Delta Wounded Warrior Hunt - DU Photo Contest - Remington Outdoor Foundation - ACE Basin

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