John's Journal...

Guns of the Waterfowling Pros

Bob “Rip” Clark and Jay Cavanagh of Canada’s Dog ‘N Duck Outfitting

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Ducks and geese rained from the sky like a giant black cloud that contained more than 300 ducks, 20 specklebelly (white-fronted geese) and about 50 Canada geese. I waited in my layout blind for Bob “Rip” Clark of Alberta, Canada, the owner of Dog ‘N Duck Outfitting in Edmonton, to call the shot. Then finally I heard the words, “Take ‘em.” The Canada geese had dropped down through the swarm of ducks and flew right in front of me. I quickly tripled on geese for the first time ever. My Browning Gold Hunter in Mossy Oak’s Shadow Grass pattern had proved its worth as it shoved Winchester Xpert High Velocity 3-inch steel shells, carrying a payload of No. 2 steel, out of the barrel at 1,550 feet per second. And, I knew I had a great guide to hunt this target-rich waterfowling area where some of the best waterfowlers in North America came to hunt. To become a professional in anything, you need to study a professional in that area of expertise and learn how he approaches his craft and what makes that professional successful. In the hunting world, you need to determine if a professional’s success depends on his skills or the tools the guide carries with him on a hunt. I’ve interviewed five waterfowl guides to learn what guns and shells they use and why.Click to enlarge

Bob “Rip” Clark:
Rip Clark, the owner of Dog ‘N Duck Outfitting and the son of well-known waterfowler, Bob “Spoonbill” Clark, has hunted waterfowl all his life and has guided goose and duck hunters for more then 14 years.

“I shoot an Ithaca 37 pump action,” Bob “Rip” Clark says. “I’ve owned two of these guns. One of the main features I like about this gun is that it has a bottom eject that allows the shells to fall in the blind with you and not be kicked out into a field like a side eject does. I believe picking up these empty hulls is extremely important because in the field they may put off a glint or a glare that can spook the ducks and the geese. I also like the Ithaca because it’s a fairly-light gun. I’ve learned that a pump shotgun is much-more maintenance-free than a semi-automatic. Much of our hunting is in fields where the guns can come into contact with a lot of dust, dirt and grime. I’ve seen hunters come in from the fields after a morning hunt and have to clean their semi-automatics because they’re fouling from the amount of dirt and dust that they’ve picked up in the fields. I’ve never had that problem with my Ithaca. In terms of shells, I use Winchester Xpert High Velocity shells because they have 1-1/8-ounce loads and the velocity of 1,550 feeClick to enlarget-per-second to totally stop a bird when you hit it with the shell. We’ve just from shooting lead shot to steel shot here in Canada, and I feel these shells have helped me to make the adjustment better than any other shells I’ve tried.”

Jay Cavanagh:
Jay Cavanagh lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta, and guides for Dog ‘N Duck Outfitting.

 “I prefer a Browning BPS .12-gauge 3-1/2-inch Magnum for hunting ducks and geese,” Jay Cavanagh explains. “I like the way this gun looks and how it feels when I put it to my shoulder. I like the synthetic stock and the Wetlands camouflage on the gun. I do quite a bit of field hunting, I travel a lot of back roads, and I spend time in mud. That synthetic stock can take all the abuse I can give it and not look bad. If I’m hunting in the cattails, it blends in really well, and I don’t have to worry about hiding it. This gun also has a bottom ejection. I prefer Winchester ammunition No. 2 shot for both ducks and geese because I really like to shoot fast steel shot so it can pass through the duck or the goose. I like the smaller shot because I’ll have more pellets chasing the heads of the ducks and the geese. Not only do I like the number of shot in the No. 2 Winchester, this shot doesn’t waste the small ducks that are shot from close-up as bad as BBs or BBBs will.Click to enlarge

“When I’m hunting ducks, I don’t call very much because I’ve learned that later in the season, the more you call, the less chance you have of getting the ducks in close. When I hunt ducks, I intend to go home with ducks, so I want those ducks to come in as close as I can get them to the blind to keep from taking high-flying shots. I’ve also noticed when I’ve watched from the road as hunters are taking ducks, that the ducks in the sky are usually the birds doing all the talking. The ducks on the ground generally just walk around and look up at the birds above them but don’t talk much.”

For more information: Dog ‘N Duck Outfitting, 89 Courtenay Terrace, Sherwood Park, AB T8A 5S6 Canada; Phone: (780) 913-1337;

Tomorrow: Steve Bierle – the Creator of Hunter’s Specialties’ Bad Medicine Goose Call

Check back each day this week for more about "Guns of the Waterfowling Pros"

Day 1: Bob “Rip” Clark and Jay Cavanagh of Canada’s Dog ‘N Duck Outfitting
Day 2: Steve Bierle – the Creator of Hunter’s Specialties’ Bad Medicine Goose Call
Day 3: Bob “Spoonbill” Clark of Canada’s Dog ‘N Duck Outfitting
Day 4: Barnie Calef – World Duck Calling Champion
Day 5: At the Other End of the Flyway – Louisiana’s Jeff Poe and Texas’s Chris Lee


Entry 492, Day 1