Waterfowl Stories Propel Wetlands Conservation



John Gordon has a tough job. He produces Ducks Unlimited TV. I know, it sounds glamorous, but each year, he has to come up with a 13-episode season to inspire hunters to pursue waterfowl with an ethic that lends a helping hand to our landscape. Conservation is hardly covered in school. It’s either passed down from family or friends, or it is presented through media. Making sure video media released by Ducks Unlimited, the nation’s largest waterfowl conservation organization, resonates, is what drives Gordon.  

Don’t feel too bad for him, though. There are plenty of upsides. For example, Gordon works through about 40 ideas a year to come up with a list of winners. In order to whittle the list down, some site visits are required. Meaning he undertakes scouting trips to ensure the destination meets the ethical, professional and actual hunting standards required for a Ducks Unlimited partnership. Then he has to manage the relationship from start to finish. It’s certainly not all dropping greenheads from heated blinds.  

I was fortunate to join Gordon for a quick trip to T&C Hunt Club in Bourbon County, Kansas. Bourbon County. That name alone was enough to entice a quick acceptance of the invitation. Joining us were Greg Powers, also with Ducks Unlimited, Joe Genzel, a digital editor with Outdoor Life, Kevin Orthman, the Executive Director of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, and Liza Sautter, a professional outdoor photographer. We arrived Friday evening with plans to hunt Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Except for me, I had to leave Sunday afternoon. 

T&C Hunt Club is a first-class operation. It’s fancy and it’s not cheap, but you certainly get what you pay for. The hunting is incredible. They’re operating on around 20,000 acres, much of which they own. There are many different waterfowl hunting opportunities, including timber, open water and flooded corn. The whitetail bucks on the wall in the lodge will make you question if they were killed in a high-fence facility. None of them were. I heard the turkey hunting is ridiculous. I believe it. 

Think of this place like the hunting version of a golf course country club. You pay to be a member, which affords you opportunities to hunt. While you’re there, everything from the food and drink, to the lodging, professionalism of the guides, skill of the dogs, quality of the habitat and personal customer service is top notch. If you’re at a point in life where you don’t have much time, or you’re beyond the years of hunting being hard work, then you should check out T&C Hunt Club. It’s also a great option for corporate retreats and entertainment. 

There were flash floods occurring in Kansas as I barreled west down Interstate 70. It rained all night, only to turn to heavy snow just as we entered the blind for our first morning. The shooting was slow, which is common after a hard night’s rain. We saw birds flying and squeaked out a few, but mostly we enjoyed the breathtaking beauty of snow falling in a marsh, blanketing the landscape around us pure white.  

After warming up next to a blazing log fire, we enjoyed a hearty meal of prime rib, mashed potatoes and fixings, which was preceded by appetizers of jumbo shrimp cocktail and seared ahi tuna. Then we retired to watch playoff football on a jumbo flat screen television, again fireside. Sitting in a recliner with craft cocktails at the ready from the bar mere feet away, I was pretty happy. I could get used to it. 

Sunday morning was supposed to be sunny. It wasn’t. Overcast makes it easier for ducks to see you, which makes it harder to lure them into range. Our guide, Caleb Boulware, did a great job of calling, and we killed a half dozen ducks on the day. After lunch, I headed home. The rest of the crew had one day left to hunt. If you think you know where this is going, you’re probably right. They hammered the ducks on Monday while I was at work. The weather was right, and the ducks poured in. They experienced everything T&C is known for, and I got to see it through a long series of texts containing pictures of smiling hunters holding ducks.

See you down the trail…