Ducks Unlimited Podcast

Dr. Mike Brasher recently joined the crew from Campus Waterfowl for an opportunity to reconnect with his roots, as he shared a soggy morning in the cypress swamp with current and former students of his alma mater, Mississippi State University. This episode, which originally aired on Campus Waterfowl, recaps an exciting ring-neck hunt and shines a spotlight on the passion this group has for waterfowl and wetland conservation through their work on the Mississippi State chapter of Ducks Unlimited. Joining on the podcast were Derek Christians of Campus Waterfowl and Drew Brown and Hunter Yelverton from Mississippi State. The group also discussed duckDNA, the exciting project that is connecting duck hunters with scientists to inform some of today’s most ground-breaking research.

Creators & Guests

Mike Brasher
Ducks Unlimited Podcast Science Host

What is Ducks Unlimited Podcast?

Ducks Unlimited Podcast is a constant discussion of all things waterfowl; from in-depth hunting tips and tactics, to waterfowl biology, research, science, and habitat updates. The DU Podcast is the go-to resource for waterfowl hunters and conservationists. Ducks Unlimited is the world's leader in wetlands conservation.

Mike Brasher: Everybody, welcome back. Thanks for joining us here on another episode of the Ducks Unlimited podcast. We have a special occasion here for you today. The episode that we're going to be playing here in a little bit comes from a discussion we had as part of a campus waterfowl hunt down at Mississippi State University. And just, I guess, in late January, and I had the fortune of going on that hunt at my alma mater. The night before the hunt, we did a hour-long podcast discussion, and the host of Campus Waterfowl was part of that, and he is, he's the one that I have to thank for inviting me to go on that trip, and he's sitting right across the table from me here, and so it's Derek Christians, sort of the, what's your official title there, Derek? Director, Manager, Campus Waterfowl, what is it?
Derek Christians: Yeah, official title is coordinator of R3 Media slash Campus Waterfowl Productions.

Mike Brasher: Okay, and we had you on an episode of the Ducks Unlimited podcast several months ago. I think you, Chris Jennings, and I sat down and gave you an opportunity to talk about Campus Waterfowl. And that episode was actually 4-53. We did a little pause there and looked it up. So, it was like a year and a half ago. It's been a while. So yeah, I would encourage you to go back and listen to that, learn a little bit more about what Derek is doing. It's a really, really innovative project, program that he's got going, and it was cool for me to be part of that. And so what we wanted to do here at the introduction, Derek, is I guess just recap briefly what we were doing down there at Mississippi State this past weekend. And I guess introduce some of the folks that we were with. We did not have the advantage of going on the hunt and then recording the podcast. And so that's the other thing we'll do is, and that was a very eventful hunt that first morning. You guys actually went on two of these. I only went that first morning, but it was incredibly eventful. And we'll talk about that. But I guess, Derek, give the quick synopsis of what you do. You go out and you meet with the college students or make connections with these college students that are waterfowl hunters, and then just sort of explain how all that works.

Derek Christians: Yeah, absolutely. So, this was a part of our Collegial Waterfowl Tour. It's a video series that we do during hunt season where we actually travel to colleges around the country and highlight college students. how they hunt their areas and just go out for a weekend and just have a good time, just like you would do in college. And the reasoning for that is just because in college, you got limited resources, whether that's equipment, time, just everything's kind of limited. And so, especially this weekend was a perfect example you'll watch in the video of just all the things that kind of come at you and all at once in this weekend of just all the challenges that come with duck hunting and then being a college student. So this was kind of just a perfect weekend to showcase that.

Mike Brasher: And some of these you kind of you try to plan a few weeks or maybe a few months in advance. Others they just get a phone call on a Wednesday or on a Tuesday and then you load up and you're there on a Friday or Saturday. This one we'd been planning for a little bit though, right?

Derek Christians: Yep, so luckily, so obviously we know that kind of later in the season it kind of gets a little bit better. The students at Mississippi State, I did plan this one out about probably about a month in advance. Luckily, it wasn't the weekend during that cold front where everything locked up. So it was just the weekend after. So everything, yeah, was opened up and the birds were flying. But yeah, when it comes to figuring out travel times, I've come literally the night before and even gone an all night. day of driving, or drove all night to get to the spot the next morning, started filming right away. So that's what hunting is. You never really know sometimes where you might be hunting the next morning until the night before. And I got to be flexible enough with the student's schedule to make it work.

Mike Brasher: You and I had talked about this episode, or not the episode, but I guess the hunt. I've been talking about it for a couple of months because I wanted to give you an opportunity to talk about the Duck DNA project and you and I were sort of brainstorming and I don't remember which of us suggested the idea or if hunting with the Mississippi State students was on your agenda, on your kind of radar coming into the season, but somehow, The discussion kind of moved to this point where, hey, well, I will go along with you. It's my alma mater. I got my bachelor's and my master's there from Mississippi State. I grew up in North Mississippi and heavily involved, of course, in the Duck DNA project this year and wanted to share that with your audience. I think that those are the younger crowd, I think, are some of the ones that we find Our finding that are more excited about this, they think it's more, number one, they're more technologically inclined because it does require you to kind of interact on a phone and set up an account and all that kind of stuff. But we've got real diverse participants this year. But still, that younger crowd is the group that we really want to get engaged in a lot of the data collection, citizen science, anything to do with science of waterfowl and ecology of waterfowl and conservation. I mean, that's, they're the future.

Derek Christians: Yeah. Yeah. You hear that all the time of them being the future. And it's really a matter of if you give them an opportunity, a lot of them will jump at that opportunity to do something. So whether that's going on a hunt somewhere else or even, yeah, being a part of something like this. They want to be asked and just be able to participate in things, as many things as possible, because they're wanting to learn and they're open to learn all these different things. And when it comes to our content, it's, yeah, it's… Having that duck DNA thing, that's a science piece that's pretty unique for this weekend, but then anything when it comes to bettering how they can hunt. And that's what's so great about Campus Waterfall is that students can learn from one another from across the country and see things, maybe how someone sets up decoys in California versus how they set up decoys down in Arkansas or just anywhere. And so they can take all that in and learn just from one another.

Mike Brasher: Derek, I came away thoroughly impressed and inspired by the students that we interacted with there, and we hunted with their dedication to hunting, their passion for hunting, but also their keen interest in supporting Ducks Unlimited. That's the other thing that I think is pretty common in some of the groups that you go with. I don't know if it's always the case. This group was heavily involved and made up basically the leadership, the sort of past, current and past leadership of the Ducks Unlimited or Mississippi State Ducks Unlimited chapter. I should say the Mississippi State chapter of Ducks Unlimited. They were, and we talked about that, and they talked about some of the events that were coming up for that chapter, but their excitement for being associated with Ducks Unlimited and wanting to help and contribute to our mission was another very inspiring aspect of that weekend.

Derek Christians: You'll hear it in the podcast here shortly, just the passion that they have for Ducks Unlimited and knowing that what they do just at their local college is making an impact for Ducks Unlimited and just the greater good for conservation.

Mike Brasher: It also took me back to whenever I was a college student, and you talked about it earlier, you don't have, you're kind of cobbling together resources and gear from different people. We had to, we were in need of a second boat, and so they called up a friend and said, hey, are you doing anything tomorrow? We need a second boat. No, I'm in. And so we, you pull people together, you pull gear together, however you have to and however you can in that kind of situation. It was a wonderful event for me. I'll mention the names here of the folks that we were with. Hunter Menjes, Hunter Yelverton, Drew Brown, Sarah Ann Weaver, Betsy Neubel, Cooper Little, and Owen Schnedler. I apologize if I mispronounced any of those names, but I think I got those right. They were absolutely wonderful from start to finish. We ate dinner on that Friday night, had fantastic conversations about everything ranging from waterfowl science. Hunter is a master's student there at Mississippi State. I believe he's a master, yeah, he's a master's student. And then, of course, Sarah Ann and Drew and I were talking about some of the fishing that she and her family have been doing in Florida for a long period of time, and Betsy Newble is a host of Ducks Unlimited TV. So, it was just a wonderful group of diverse conversations. That was all Friday night. And then, of course, after we ate dinner, we went to, I guess, to Betsy's place, and that's where we recorded the podcast that's going to be coming out on the Campus Waterfowl platform. You do a podcast episode every time you do one of these hunts. But we wanted to also kind of feature that, that discussion on the Ducks Unlimited platform. And we're going to play that here in a little bit, but that was the, it was, it was just an insightful, thoughtful, great conversation and all around. And so that was just Friday night. I guess we departed there. We kind of broke camp around, I don't know, what was it? 10 o'clock or nine 30, 10 o'clock when we concluded there. And then the wake-up call was 3 a.m.

Derek Christians: Yeah, my alarm had 245 on it, so the two got me pretty early.

Mike Brasher: Yeah, it's a wake-up call at 3 a.m. and about a 45-minute boat ride over the 10-ton waterway, and it was raining. It started raining whenever we got over there. And it continued to rain for about, I don't know, two hours, two and a half, three hours. All the gear in, nobody flinched. We'd never once asked the question, do we really want to do this? It was just, we're all in. Had to make a couple of back-and-forth boat rides just for safety's sake, and got there, went on the Tintan Waterway, maybe a quarter, half-mile probably, I would say, a half-mile to a mile. Had to climb up a steep embankment, then went into this cypress slough, this scrub-shrub type of wetland. It continued to rain, but we had a great hunt. We ended up, what was it, 23 or 24 ring-necked ducks? I believe so, yeah. And then three gadwall, and then maybe three green-winged teal. I forget exactly the total count. Yeah, it was a great hunt. Ring-necked ducks are, I think, underrated in a lot of ways. They're a very sporty duck and, of course, you get into some situations like that, some of those cypress sloughs and forested swamps. of that particular area, and it can be pretty good, and it was.

Derek Christians: Yeah, it was to my surprise. I didn't even know ringnecks would go into that type of habitat. So, being able to shoot divers in that area was pretty cool and special.

Mike Brasher: I think it was the night before that somebody was telling me what kind of habitat type we were going to be in. I said, oh, it sounds like it might be some ringneck ducks in there. Sure enough, it was. I think I mentioned to you, it's this classic ringneck duck habitat in North Mississippi. Reminded me a lot of the places I hunted growing up. And let's see, then I left. I had some other things I was gonna do and went hunting in another, back in my old stomping grounds the following day. But you guys went hunting again, I guess it would have been Sunday morning. That was a little bit slower if I remember, if I heard correctly.

Derek Christians: A little slower of a hunt, but it was a lot less challenges. There wasn't any rain, a little easier walk-in. Compared to the morning before, it was kind of nice being able to just relax that next morning.

Mike Brasher: What kind of place did you say it was? Were you hunting out of a pit blind or were you… Just kind of right on the bank.

Derek Christians: Oh, okay. Yep, yep. Similar to what you'll see in the video. But this, yeah, then this hunt will actually be about a week later. Okay.

Mike Brasher: So talk about that. We're recording, well, this episode is probably going to air the day that that YouTube video comes out. We're here in very late, you and I are sitting here on January 30th. This episode will be coming out in early February. And so at the time that you're listening to this episode, you'll be able to go to Campus Waterfowl's podcast. You can listen to that. If you want to listen to the episode twice, you can. But the other thing that we want to draw your attention to is the YouTube channel for Campus Waterfowl. So you can see the videos. The neat thing that Derek does is he puts out a video of the hunt, but then he also does a podcast. So, check out his other podcasts and some of the other people and places he's visited. Check out the other YouTube videos he's created, but tell folks where they need to go to find that on the YouTube or podcast.

Derek Christians: Yeah, so anything, if you search Campus Waterfowl across all platforms, you'll find our stuff on YouTube. Every trip that we go on, we try to do four pieces of content. So, we start out with a podcast, we do two hunting videos, and then miscellaneous videos. So we've done in the past a lot of cooking videos, kind of tips and tactics. We've gone fishing before, deer hunting before, just something outside of the hunt that students do. So you'll see on our channel that they're kind of in batches of four, these kind of trips. is what I kind of just categorize them as. But I do, before we get into the podcast, this didn't get brought up until at the end. So the Mississippi State Ducks Unlimited chapter, March 19th, we'll be hosting a concert for conservation. So Sam Barber will be the featured artist there at Rick's Cafe there in town, presented by Mossy Oak. So just in case you couldn't get all the way through the podcast, I did want to plug that for the chapter. Yeah. Um, so if you guys are in the Starkville area, be sure to attend that.

Mike Brasher: Rick's cafe is, you know, you and I were talking about this when we were in Starkville, you might've, might've heard some of the conversations. There were very few places that remain in Starkville the way they were whenever I was there two and a half decades ago. But Rick's cafe is one of those that is, it's like an establishment and it's stuck around, but yeah. So March 19th, thanks for plugging that Derek. Uh, I don't know what my schedule is like right now, if I'm going to be able to get down there, but, uh, would certainly be nice to do so. And it was a great weekend. Thank you, Derek, for inviting me. Check out the YouTube video. Check out all the other great stuff that Derek is putting out with Campus of Waterfowl. You're going to be transitioning to sort of a research tour here as we get into the spring and summer. You going to do that again?

Derek Christians: Yes, for sure. So yeah, during the off season, we'll have, well actually coming up in March here, we got our big Collegiate Waterfowl National Championship. It's a big bracket that we do, but for video content that we will be publishing is we'll be doing some snow goose conservation hunts with some students this spring, but then also we'll also be doing our research tour where we travel to colleges and find where we highlight graduate students who are heading waterfowl or wetland research. So, kind of same premise as the waterfowl, or the collegiate waterfowl tour, but focusing on research.

Mike Brasher: Yeah, very cool. Check that out as well, folks. There's episodes from the past couple of years as well, showcasing the great work that graduate students all across the country are doing. So final thank you to Hunter Minges, Hunter Yelverton, Drew Brown, Sarah Ann Weaver, Betsy Newble, Cooper Little, Owen Schnedler, and then you Derek Christians for allowing me to tag along. Uh, that was, that was a special event for me and, uh, thoroughly enjoyed it. So with that, we're going to kick it over to the Campus Waterfowl podcast with Derek Christians, Hunter Yelverton, and Drew Brown and myself featured on that one. So enjoy folks. Thanks for joining us.

Derek Christians: Welcome everyone to another episode of the Campus Waterfowl Podcast. I'm your host, Derek Christians, and on this episode, I'm here for a collegiate waterfowl tour at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi. Here we are. Yes. It is unfortunately the last weekend of duck season. It's been a long season. This is stop number 10, only 10. So typically we do 12 trips on our collegiate waterfowl tour, but we kind of got a late start to the season this year. So we're going to extend the tour into conservation season. So hopefully get on a couple of trips this spring and go after some snow geese. I'm looking forward to it. It'll be a fun couple trips, I think. And we've never done it for a tour, so why not this season? Might as well. Right. So if you guys are listening to the podcast, this is on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, all those streaming platforms. But we also record it on YouTube and then also you can actually watch the video on Spotify as well. If you're watching on YouTube, take it on the road if you can't finish the podcast. But if you're watching, this is probably our most elegant scene of all of our college trips. We're here at one of their colleagues' places, where it's probably, would you say it's the cleanest of all the places? You'd have to think. Yeah.

Hunter Yelverton: My place is pretty squeaky clean, if you can believe it from looking at me, but… No, Betsy is a great decorator.

Mike Brasher: She can do it well. Yeah, it's definitely your… It's not the typical, like, college decor that I suspect.

Derek Christians: No.

Mike Brasher: For this group. For me, whenever I was here.

Derek Christians: Absolutely. But so to kind of introduce our guests lightly, so to my right here, we got Drew Hunter, and then we actually have a special guest joining us, Dr. Mike Brazier with Ducks Unlimited, who is back in his alma mater at Mississippi State. He did his undergrad here.

Mike Brasher: Is this where I say Hell State? Yep.

Hunter Yelverton: I do that at least once, right? Hell State and go Dawgs.

Derek Christians: That's right. So it's fun to have him here. He's actually, since our kind of Since Campus Waterfowl became a part of Ducks Unlimited, this is actually our first time actually having someone a part of DU on one of these trips. So I'm excited for Mike to be here and kind of get to witness what we've been doing these last three seasons.

Mike Brasher: Yeah, it's an honor, man. It's cool. I'm glad to be part of it.

Derek Christians: All right. Enough of the intro stuff. Let's get into the podcast. So Drew, you want to start us off?

Drew Brown: Yeah, so my name is Drew Brown. I'm from Columbus, Mississippi, 45 minutes down the road. I've pretty much, coming out of high school, I pretty much knew I was coming to Mississippi State. And I started duck hunting three years ago. I've come a long way since then. Very blessed to be able to do what I do and glad I can share it with other people.

Hunter Yelverton: My name is Hunter Yelverton. I'm originally from Brandon, Mississippi, which is in the Jackson, Mississippi area. I actually did not know I was coming to Mississippi State until right at the last minute. I grew up a fan of another school up north. We don't like to talk about too much, but yeah, when you talk to my high school friends about where I went to college, it shocked them at the time, but now it just, I love it here. And so I chair the Ducks Unlimited chapter here at Mississippi State. I've been involved with it for about three years now, and so yeah.

Mike Brasher: And me, I'm Dr. Mike Brazier. I'm the Senior Waterfowl Scientist for Ducks Unlimited. I've worked for DU 18 and a half years now. I was in Louisiana for a number of years, 13 or so years, and moved to Memphis in the current position I'm in, whatever that would be, five years or so ago. And this is an amazing opportunity for me to be part of this with you, Derek, Campus Waterfowl, and Drew and Hunter, you guys also. It's just so cool to have the opportunity to come back and spend this time with folks half my age. But doing the things that I love to do on a sort of a different platform, getting the exposure that Campus Waterfowl is providing is just so amazing. And I'm, like I said, beginning honored to be the first DU staff on campus waterfowl and to have it occur at my alma mater is very, very special. So it's, it's cool. Thanks for having me here.

Drew Brown: We're excited to have you here. I really appreciate you making the trip down. Yeah.

Derek Christians: Mississippi State's been kind of a college I've been wanting to come to for many years. So, Campus Waterfowl started in 2014, and I would say some of the earliest pictures that we'd share and get sent into, or get sent in by, were from Mississippi State. And actually one, I do want to give a shout out to one of the first interns of Campus Waterfowl back in 2014, 2015 roughly when we're getting off, getting going, was Logan Smith, who I think, I think he was involved with the DU chapter down here. And yeah, he was one of our first interns. So, big shout out to Logan.

Mike Brasher: Derek, the one thing that I forgot to say in my introduction is that one of the other roles that I found myself doing now is co-host of the Ducks Unlimited podcast, right? So, we're sort of a little collaboration here on the Campus Waterfowl podcast, DU podcast. And thank you to you guys for your volunteerism, supporting Ducks Unlimited. I tell everybody all the time that Ducks Unlimited doesn't exist without our members and especially without our volunteers. The amount of time and effort that y'all put in, it's very humbling and much, much appreciated. I was a volunteer for the, I think the Starkville chapter and the Mississippi State chapter. whenever I was here and so it's great that we still have all that going.

Hunter Yelverton: When I started I got involved with DU probably my sophomore year of high school and at that time my family didn't do it on Duck Hunt. I kind of got into it through people I met through DU. So yeah that's that's I've loved building this community and being a part of it and seeing where it's taken me so yeah.

Derek Christians: One of the first things I kind of want to dive into in this podcast is kind of, it's a big question time. It's kind of always happening. But since we have Mike here, who's, it's been a while since he's kind of hunted these same grounds that he used to when he was in undergrad. And I think it's pretty comparable to even other college campuses around the country, just how fast these types of landscapes change over time. So, I kind of want to kind of get your guys' feel of what it's like hunting in this area, and then kind of get Mike's even input on how things have changed in his eyes.

Drew Brown: Mike Smith Well, I think it's changed a lot. We were sitting down at lunch today, and Dr. Mahe said, he asked me how many black ducks we kill. And I looked at it and I was like, man, not that many.

Mike Brasher: But then you were honest with me and said, you've never seen one, right?

Drew Brown: Yeah, I've never seen one fly over. I heard of one being killed. Now, if they were lying a lot, you know, honestly, I don't know. But they said that they had killed one down here. And, but that's all I've heard of. Like it's, it's crazy because where we're hunting them are is, I mean, it's been around forever and we'll get into that, I'm sure, later on. But they said that… I talked to some of the older guys that had been hunting. He said when they used to hunt in there, he said they'd kill 10, 12, 15 black ducks a year. And now, I mean, if you see one, I feel like you've done something down here. It's just the flyways are always changing. They're always… Birds are doing different things always and it's constantly adapting, but now we're having to adapt to it. So it's interesting to see. It's kind of funny when you ask me how many plateaus we killed.

Hunter Yelverton: Yeah, I think that's one of the things that makes our sport so incredible though is you have to learn to adapt year after year after year. It's not just these long-term sort of shifts you see. It's something different you're dealing with every year and I think that's what it's a really You really do have to be sort of intelligent and sort of smart about how you go about these things. So, that's what makes it so incredible and seeing everything too.

Mike Brasher: And I think that's a good point. Good hunters are ones that adapt. And there will be ones that adapt. over multiple years, but also that will adapt within a given year, right? Because your weather conditions change from one week to the next. We've already kind of talked about some of that. So, that is the very thing. You know, a lot of people will say that ducks are doing or that migration has changed or something of that nature. I forget exactly the word that's most common, but maybe the migration is changing. What I like to do is say, well, The phenomenon of migration has not changed. What is changing are those aspects of the environment and of the landscape that birds are responding to. The process of migration is the same, but where they go, when they go, and the timing that they go there, those things are what's changing. And those are in response to all these other things on the landscape.

Drew Brown: I feel like migration is always going to happen. They have to push down. I mean, up north, like, I mean, honestly, if I was up north and I didn't have to move down, why would I fly all the way down here? So, I mean, you can't really get mad at him because there's no reason for him to push down right now. And I'll say this, Duck Hunt's growing, man. I remember my senior year of high school, like, it was me and one other buddy, like, that was it. Like, everybody dug hunting. And I work at Hunt Store in Columbus now. And, I mean, which I think is a good thing, but like, ninth, tenth graders, I mean, you have, like, boats and, like, they're going every day. So, like, it's good for the sport. Like, it's good everybody's going to do it. It's such a fun thing to do. Like, I, I hope everybody gets to experience what I've personally experienced, but pressure is involved in that too. So, then you have to put that into account, but it really is, it's growing, so.

Mike Brasher: That's interesting to hear you say that. You know, and I'm a big data person, and we look at the data. In some states, you look at 100 numbers and they're going up. Most states, and then when you look at them over all states combined, 100 numbers are going down. What's interesting and what, well, what would be interesting to dig into, and I don't know if the numbers are out there right now, but to see how sort of the age demographic is changing. I mean, we knew that, we knew we were facing this situation where most of the hunters at one point in time were in this aging sort of, this age bracket, and they're getting older, and then once they get to about 70 years old, they really start to drop out, right? But then, and so that's why a lot of these recruitment, retention, reactivation efforts have been put into place. What is that earlier, that younger age demographic, the number of hunters, what does it look like? Is it growing? Sounds like you think it is based on what you're seeing.

Hunter Yelverton: It's exploding. I mean, I even talk to like my dad and some of his friends all the time and they say compared to what duck hunting and waterfowl hunting is now, it just wasn't, at least in the Jackson area growing up, wasn't nearly as big of a thing as it is now. Young people, it's exploding. Why do you think that is?

Mike Brasher: I think it's an exciting sport.

Hunter Yelverton: I mean, I know a lot of people, I think deer hunting has kind of been the king around Mississippi for a long time. And I think a lot of people like duck hunting, a lot of young people especially, because they can get out, they can kind of talk and kind of, I don't know. It's a lot more, you can be a lot more loose with it. You can go have, you know, there's sort of an art to calling ducks too. That's a whole nother sort of trick to learn. So I think it's, there's a lot of excitement to it that gets young people kind of into it.

Drew Brown: Over in Stouffville, over on the refuge, you know, you can only hunt at certain days. But they said, people come to Stouffville all the time. Yeah, we're going to head out of the refuge in an hour. It's 530. I mean, they're going to spend the night, which I can't say- Oh, 5.30 in the evening. In the afternoon. They're going and stacking up trucks, and they said it is an all-out war every day to refuse to go hunting, which is good. We never did that. Five, six years ago, I feel like that's unheard of.

Hunter Yelverton: Mississippi State's a big community for that, too. I guess with a lot of the ag people and the wildlife and biology background we have here, I hear about I know out-of-state students that come from all over the country and they say well I came to Mississippi State because I want to go to school but I want to go hunt the Mississippi Delta on the weekends and stuff so it's it's a there's a ton the community is great down here it's incredible.

Mike Brasher: That's awesome to hear. You know, Derek, what I would say, I think back to my time whenever I was here and the people that we hunted with. There was a core group of us, and we were pretty hardcore, but we never did the 5.30 p.m. type thing. Oh, yeah. We didn't have to, and I don't even remember what the hunt opportunities out at Knoxville were. It's been a while since I was here. We had a pretty small group, you know, that would hunt and we just, we didn't hear a lot about it. Of course, social media and the way people communicate has changed. Campus Waterfowl, right?

Derek Christians: This is pre-social media.

Hunter Yelverton: Well, even one thing that's helped it blow up so much, I think, is the explosion of media along with hunting. I mean, even guys as big as like, you know, the Robertsons and stuff helped duck hunting just explode in the last decade, all the way down to you seeing your buddy on Instagram, you know, going out with all his friends, you think, Oh, I want to, I want to do that.

Derek Christians: I asked students last weekend, uh, when I had NC state and ECU, um, if they're, if a lot of people involved with their chapter or just people that they know, are you, do you see a lot of your peers, uh, even traveling out of state or even just willing to travel for different types of hunts?

Drew Brown: I got buddies up in Arkansas right now. Really? They, uh, he called me today. He's like, you going in more? And I was like, yeah, we're going to try it. He said, We just crossed the Arkansas state line. So, I mean… They're one of them out-of-staters. Well, and it's crazy because in the boat ramp, we'll see it in the morning, the past couple times we've hunted is there's been seven or eight trucks from Alabama driving. I mean, it's… There's out-of-state people coming here. I know it sounds crazy because as terrible as the weather's been and the hunt has been down here, it's… I say terrible, it ain't even bad, but… I mean, it's crazy to see how many people are traveling to come here, not people traveling to go other places.

Hunter Yelverton: When I was, I lived in North Carolina this summer. I was working there this summer and I had friends I was working with that they went to Clemson and some other schools up in the Carolinas. And they were like, yeah, we're going to go hunt the Delta this winter. We're going to hit the Mississippi Delta and then we're going to go to Stuttgart, Arkansas. We're going to have a time over winter break. You should come with us." And I was like, dang, y'all are coming all the way to my neck of the woods. So, yeah, people do travel, especially young people too. I mean, people love to come to this part of the world and be able to hunt and see what experiences they can get all over the country. So, it's incredible to just meet the people from all over.

Mike Brasher: I bet you that's one of the… I say I bet you because, you know, I would love to have the data. I bet you that's one of the biggest things that has changed is people's willingness to travel and the frequency with which they travel and the distance they go and the amount of time they spend doing that. I think it's a great thing because we're talking about waterfowl here. It's a migratory resource. It depends on landscapes all the way from Alaska and Carrick Lake, the Queen Maud Gulf, all the way down to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. And I don't think you can really appreciate those connections until you go there and you realize you're hunting the same birds if you go to Kansas, if you go to Lake St. Clair in Michigan, if you go to Pacific Northwest. I mean, those are all North American birds. They come from different regions and all that type stuff. they're all connected on this continent. And by traveling and seeing those different places, I think people develop a greater appreciation for that. And I think it probably builds some of that network, that broader network of hunters.

Hunter Yelverton: That's another great thing about Ducks Unlimited is just the connection you can make all over the country. I know we went to third term in Memphis this past summer, and we met people from all over the country that just, they were like, well, yeah, man, I'll give you my phone number, hit us up. You can come up to, you know, Iowa or something, come hunt, just come hunt with us. And so now the young people that you meet through this organization, particularly, and the opportunities you get are just amazing.

Derek Christians: Mike, when you hear these types of programs, what do you think what it could have been for you in college if these types of programs existed? Even for like, like you were doing your undergrad. What did you do your undergrad here?

Mike Brasher: Yeah, it was wildlife ecology. It started as forestry with a wildlife major. By the time I got to my senior year, we had added the Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Ecology. Yeah, that was the first group.

Derek Christians: Even in amongst that like science community, like having different, now there's like just different things all over the place where you can meet one another.

Drew Brown: So, now you're talking about like adding things. WFA now has tons of things. They have so many different things like you can concentrate in. So, I mean, that's always changing too. Just, I mean, I bet you could go down a list. Everything you were here to where I was here is just Crazy the differences.

Hunter Yelverton: For the listeners, WFA means Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture.

Mike Brasher: That's a very popular major here at Mississippi State. Derek, I'd have probably been one of the people on the couch. I think it would have probably accelerated my appreciation for those connections and it would have accelerated my ability to network with other people in the hunting community, build those connections. I built my connections in the scientific community and research community as I got into graduate school. but building those connections with a hunting community has taken much, much longer, at least outside my professional colleagues. But yeah, I'd probably be one of these guys sitting here on this couch. I think the other thing that I see now and I continue to be impressed by is how well-spoken and how much more comfortable younger folks are today than what I was back then. I would imagine social media plays a role in that. I mean, you put yourself on video all the time whenever you're communicating with your friends. I'm still a little uneasy about doing some of that, but, you know, Snapchat or a little selfie or whatever. For younger folks, I mean, that's just the way you communicate. And for me, it's still a little different. So, I think, you know, as much as we wring our hands about the ills that can come along with social media, I mean, you can say that about any kind of, any form or platform of communication, I think there's also a lot of good things about it and how it's, for a lot of people, it's made them more comfortable in the different communication settings. At least that's my unofficial take on it, but that's the way I see it.

Hunter Yelverton: I think we're definitely a lot more used to it. It's kind of hardwired into us that the world's a little more interconnected than it was even a generation ago. But I know for me and Drew, we're both pretty outgoing people, so I think we were both pretty excited about this podcast. But two, just being involved with DU and other organizations on campus and stuff like that. I mean there's tons of ways to just put yourself out there and so we're always excited for stuff like this.

Derek Christians: One thing you mentioned, Mike, was the hunting community and kind of the science community. One thing I learned these last couple of years doing our collegiate kind of research tours, kind of what I called it, is on social media, these science communities and these hunting communities are You think they're kind of, well, they definitely are related, but the people within them are very kind of distant. And so bridging that gap is something that we're trying to do and something that even Ducks Unlimited has obviously been doing for a very long time. But now this year, and you guys didn't even, Hunter and Drew didn't even know about this beforehand, but so Ducks Unlimited has this project called Duck DNA.

Drew Brown: Well, I've heard of it. I didn't know we had it, like, on the scene.

Derek Christians: Oh, yeah. We got a kit here. So, Mike, would you like to share a little bit about what Duck DNA is?

Mike Brasher: And I'll just say that was an outstanding segue, Derek. So, yeah. This one, actually, you enrolled. You know, we had a number of these things that we we assign to people in our organization like you and me and Mallory Murphy, our social media manager, and a few other folks that interact with a lot of different groups to kind of help us spread the word about these and get feedback. So, what DuckDNA is, first I'll just tell folks you can go to our website There's some write-ups there about what it is and how people can get involved in it. It's, Derek, to your point, the way Ducks Unlimited is viewing this is fundamentally our role in connecting researchers with the hunters. We've talked a lot in our organization about the role that hunters play in providing data for the management of waterfowl populations through reporting your band when you harvest a banded bird or participating in harvest surveys whenever you're asked to do so. And I'm trying to think, it seems like there's one big one that I'm missing, but basically harvest surveys and band recoveries and then participating in other ways as well with research. And so we know hunters are really, really keen to do that. We know hunters get real geeky about the birds they shoot and want to know all about them. So we wanted to take advantage of this to kind of connect hunters with geneticists, a genetics researcher, at the University of Texas, El Paso, Dr. Phil Levretsky. He's one of our leading waterfowl geneticists, and there's a lot of technological advances that have occurred in genetics these days, and they're able to extract a lot more information from tissue, from genetic material. This program was launched this year. We're enrolling, have enrolled about 300 participants. We're asking those participants to submit tissue samples from five ducks that they harvest. We've been, I'll show this here, there's a little infographic in there and five vials in this kit that comes with it. People would go to and they would apply to be part of the program. We had over 4,000 applicants this year. We were able to select only 300 of them because there's limited capacity, limited resources. It has been free for people to participate. This has been underwritten, cost of this underwritten by some of our philanthropic donors. We appreciate them very much. They're acknowledged on our website as well. So, yeah, the way this worked is that we selected hunters in two different rounds, mid-October and then late November, and they have been submitting samples, been taking All we do is cut… Request that we cut a quarter inch from the tongue of a harvested duck, focusing on mallards, black ducks, model ducks, Mexican ducks, and then any interesting hybrid. And we are… Yeah, you then put them in these vials and you put them in the freezer and It includes return shipping label, return postage, instructions here. The other thing that comes with this is you enter the information. When you cut a sample, cut the tissue from the duck's tongue, you go online to your account. You know, when you're selected to participate, you were directed to a website where you create your account. And then for each of the samples that you submit, you answer a number of questions, like what was the date of the harvest? Where was it harvested? Was it a male? Was it a female? Do you know if it was an adult or a juvenile? What habitat was it in? And a few other questions. And so then, you know, you submit that, so we have, basically what that does is link some data to your sample, and then you ship it off to UTEP, and then they do the analysis, and then in about four to six weeks, we actually ran a little late on, ran behind on this first round of analyses, we're learning the ropes, learning a few things, we've got some of that smoothed out. The hunter receives their certificate for each piece, each tissue that they submit, it tells the, sort of the genetically vetted species identification. If the genetic material matches more than one species, it can identify what those are.

Drew Brown: Is that looking at game farm mallards? That's part of it. That's one of the questions.

Mike Brasher: So, that's one of the more pressing, one of the more prevalent issues in this field of genetics, and that's kind of one of the main reasons why we… I should say that's one of the main research questions that waterfowl geneticists are looking at right now is the presence of game farm mallard genes in the birds that we shoot. Game farm mallard genes are very prevalent in birds harvested in the Atlantic Flyway. pretty prevalent in mallards harvested, I said birds maybe, but in mallards harvested in the Atlantic flyway. Prevalent in mallards harvested in the Great Lakes region. The farther west you go, there's a lower incidence of game farm mallard genes. And so that's one of the primary research questions that are trying to be answered. There's a host of other questions, but DU is primarily just acting as a connector between researchers and the hunters. The response from hunters this year has been pretty remarkable. I get all sorts of Instagram messages now and emails. We have an email website or an email address set up for this, but the level of support and excitement from the hunters and just the… how badly people want to participate in this is really surprising. We've had people offering to pay to be part of this. We've had people kind of making their case, promising that they will collect high quality samples. But, you know, we've kept it outside of the folks like Derek and a few others within the organization that we've wanted to share these with. for this kind of, these type of promotional opportunities. It's been, it's been largely random. We're taking, I guess by the time this airs, we'll probably be outside the duck season, but right now we are collecting or taking samples from hybrid birds. If somebody shoots a hybrid bird, they can get in touch with us and we'll send them a single vial and then they'll, we'll run the analysis for them, so.

Drew Brown: Yeah, and see that's cool because like I had no idea that that was even like And, like, I know so many people that would be so interested in doing it. So, and, like, like you said, this was, like, kind of, like, not really a trial run, but, like, still trying to figure out how— Yeah, for sure. And, like, there's so much research you could get from doing it. and it's only going to grow from here.

Mike Brasher: It's just like 23andMe, right? The more information you get on like the behavioral characteristics or the morphology or the habitat associations, who knows what else that you get from a bird and then you have also the genetic information from that bird, the greater the opportunity to link these different parts of the genome to what the bird is doing, maybe where it is. That's one of the other things that I'm sure we'll look at as we go through time. Are there any kind of genetic signatures that are unique to birds? Let's say mallards that go to the South Atlantic, mallards that go to South Louisiana in October, or mallards that go to Texas in January. The space and time kind of nature of waterfowl migration, and are there any genetic… Is any of that genetically controlled, and can we identify? It's gonna take a large number of samples, right? We've got a few other things to work out, but this is the start of it. The response has been overwhelming, and hopefully we shoot some mallards maybe a black duck, maybe a hybrid.

Drew Brown: Yeah, that black duck's coming in a moment. And we will take care of this.

Mike Brasher: We will submit it there. Inside each of these vials is some buffer solution, which kind of prevents the degradation of the DNA material until it can… We put it in here, a quarter inch piece of the tongue, put it in here, put this in the freezer until we're ready to ship it back, and then That's it. We haven't had any problems. I think we've had maybe one or two samples that have failed analysis. Sometimes that happens, but the fact that we've had such high success rate thus far tells us that this buffer solution is really good. had really good performance, even with all the vagaries of how hunters handle these things. It's been pretty good, been actually really, really good.

Derek Christians: What do you guys think about that?

Drew Brown: I'm hoping that black duck flies over in the morning, is what I think. But no, I think it's like, who would have ever thought that this would even be a thing? It goes to show that if there's enough people that care about it, and there's enough people that will actually put forth the effort to do something like this, how much information we could actually learn from something like this program.

Mike Brasher: And we don't know long-term what the management implication is for this. There have been some additional studies looking to see, to answer the, okay, so what? So, these birds have Game Farm Mallard genes in them. Big deal, right? There have been some work, and actually Brian Davis from here at Mississippi State has been involved in some of this work, looking at some of the morphological differences, physiological differences, between pure wild mallards and game farm mallards or game farm hybrid mallards. And they have found some preliminary differences in certainly in lamellar spacing, you know, the comb-like structures on the bill that helps birds, helps ducks forage, the bill length, wing shape, and also some preliminary differences in like their ability to put on fat. And also some of these other studies that are using GPS tracking devices. So, here's what you can kind of think about. If you have these birds with GPS tracking devices on them, and if you have the genetic material associated with that, and you have all this data on movement, on the timing of migration, the location of their movements, what kind of habitat they're using, and that gives you all sorts of opportunity to link those behaviors with some piece of the genetic code. And so they have found in some Some preliminary work has identified some differences in the way game farm hybrids move about the landscape versus pure wild mallards. A lot of this will need to be replicated and substantiated before you can really have any strong inference for moving forward with any kind of management recommendation, even if you could. Like we're talking about a lot of wild and free ranging animals. It's even imagining a management action that would be effective is kind of challenging. But anyway, it's we're trying to just help collect the data and then the researchers will be the ones to look into all those questions and then the the management agencies charged with decisions that would intersect any of this information would, you know, get involved if they want to.

Hunter Yelverton: I think this is great. It's me coming from less of a biologist side and more of like a trying to manage an organization, trying to recruit people. A lot of the questions we get all the time is, well, yeah, y'all hunt ducks and we're raising money, we're doing these events. What are some of the things y'all do? And something like this would be perfect to say, well, I, as a hunter, I can do something this simple and Ducks Unlimited can collect data points from something we harvested as hunters. just while we were out doing our thing. So I think that's incredible for us just as, you know, regular people trying to organize this chapter, so.

Drew Brown: And I'll say this about the whole, you were talking about GPS, but like even like bands, like I would hope everybody that kills a band would report it, but like some people just like don't. And like that's crazy to like think about. Like if you had to think like what percent, I know this is like a crazy question, but like what percentage of Ducks do you think get banded. It's got to be like an insanely low number. I was actually lucky enough to, this summer, band a bunch of Wood Ducks and Wilson Ducks on the Refuge and the survivability of those ducks, like you would never think because I would say just under 50% of the birds that we would pull out of a box would already be banded. From the previous… These would be hens that you're… The hens, yes, sir, that we were pulling out of the box. So, like, that just goes to show, like, even that you banded, that don't mean that you're gonna find out. So, like, even the ones that you are banding, not… All of them are even found. So, just like hunter's responsibility of when you are lucky enough and privileged enough to kill something like that, you take the little bit of initiative to go online and type it in. You know what I'm saying?

Mike Brasher: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things, and this is a question for Brian, for Dr. Brian Davis, because he studied wood ducks for many, many years, but so you have a sample of birds that are banded that you're pulling from the nest box, right? That you're encountering. I'm curious what percentage of those that you encounter that are banded in the nest box are subsequently encountered via hunter harvest, you know? You'd have to think. I don't know what that is. I suspect Brian or other researchers have kind of calculated that.

Drew Brown: With us doing everything at the refuge I wish there was like at the refuge like a banded like If you kill a man, please just write a tally mark on this so we can try to like we banded I think we've been like 50 something so if we've been like 52 will only 17 get killed there's you know, however many left over. So, I just wish there was a way to figure out, like, how many are actually being killed, but who knows if they're even staying on the refuge.

Mike Brasher: Well, we do, I say we, the research community and management community does use reward bands. We do use methods to estimate reporting rate, and those reward bands are a way that we, that they estimate that, and I forget what it's, the current reporting rate estimate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 80%. Which is good. But yeah, to your point, we encourage everyone, every chance we get, if you encounter a banded bird, yeah, report it. I mean, that's useful data.

Drew Brown: Here's a funny story. I was able to, I was lucky enough to kill one this year, and I was working at the store, my coworker said, man, I killed one too. And I was like, where's it from? He goes, Iowa. I was like, mine was from Iowa. I was like, where? The same guy, We pulled up our safety and the same guy banded both of our ducks, except mine was born two years before his was.

Mike Brasher: Well now, so here's something I'll share with you. Not to say that the person listed on there wasn't the one that physically banded. It could have been, but a lot of times states will have a master bander listed on the permit, and then they'll have sub-permittees. It could be a situation like that. Orrin Jones, was that his, was that, do you remember if that was his name?

Drew Brown: I'm not sure. It was on, it was like on a lake. Yeah. He lived like on a lake. I don't know.

Mike Brasher: It could have been. Yeah. Anyway, but, but a lot of people will, um, that's the intuitive way to interpret those bans or those certificates. But for some states, they'll have a master bander, and then they'll have a lot of different sub-permittees.

Drew Brown: But still, it's really cool. It's cool that you did that.

Mike Brasher: But yeah, I would imagine that wood ducks are one of the more interesting returns that people down here get anyway, because you grow up… I mean, during the summer, you see wood ducks all the time, right? And then When winter comes around, you shoot a wood duck, it's from Iowa. Wood ducks will migrate, right? A lot of folks, I don't know, it's a local breeder, but then a lot of the birds that you get later in the winter are gonna be wood ducks that have migrated in from other regions, and that's a species that we're still trying to learn about in terms of some of those migratory movements.

Drew Brown: It's also crazy to see the variability in the flyways. Like, I was in class the other day, And me and this guy were walking and he's like, you ever kill any wood ducks down here? I kind of looked at him like, are you crazy? I was like, man, I was like, there are too many of them. I'll be honest. He's like, dude, it is my dream to kill a wood duck. I was like, where are you from? He goes, like the upper parts of Texas. I was like, so what do you mean? He was like, Pentails, we go sand hill crane hunting all the time. Yeah, I was like, yeah, no big deal. Like, whatever. I was like, dude, that is, like, crazy compared to… But, like, that was his dream was… He said, I want to kill a wood duck so bad.

Mike Brasher: And so, there's the value in making these connections with hunters from different parts of the world. It's like, hey, you come hunting with me, I'll get you on a wood duck.

Hunter Yelverton: You just get me on a pintail and a crane. We can make a deal. You never expect that. It's like I said earlier, people come from all over to hunt these. Any Mississippi, any part of the country, people will go anywhere. So, it's incredible to see.

Mike Brasher: Derek, anything else about this? we wanted to cover. Hopefully, we'll get to put that thing in use today. I actually put four pieces of tissue and some vials that I had today, so I was happy about that. Season's winding down and so, yeah, hopefully we get as many of these things in as possible.

Derek Christians: Yeah, I'm hoping Canvas Waterfall can contribute to some of this research here and you guys can get a certificate possibly from it.

Mike Brasher: Appreciate y'all letting us talk about this and being a part of it.

Hunter Yelverton: Yeah, we definitely hope to help. That's why we all do Ducks Unlimited is to be able to just play a small part in research and stuff like that. I try to tell people I have people approach me on campus that maybe aren't duck hunters or just don't hunt at all and they say like, well how are y'all for the environment if you kill animals? And we're like, I hate to break it to you but hunters, they're the original environmentalists. You know, there's nobody that cares more than we do. And so anytime guys like us get an opportunity to even do something like that, it's exciting. It's very exciting.

Mike Brasher: What do you say to them as part of that conversation?

Hunter Yelverton: My response is usually I just talk about a lot of the stuff, the work that DU does, a lot of the research. I just say that if you look and see the people who are doing the most research as far as wildlife, as far as environmental science, forestry, agriculture, I mean they're all hunters. They're people that they sow and they reap from the land. So that's what I like to show people.

Drew Brown: Also, a lot of people don't realize how much money Ducks Limit puts to the breeding grounds. Because without the breeding grounds, there's no birds to even move down. So, I mean, there is so stupid amounts of money going to the breeding grounds in Canada. And, I mean, Ducks Limit does work all up and down the United States. I mean, I've seen pictures and data and so many things of just where all Ducks Limit is putting their money, and it's all over.

Mike Brasher: It may be stupid amounts of money going to the breeding grounds, but it's still not enough.

Drew Brown: No, absolutely not.

Hunter Yelverton: Stupid amounts of money raised by volunteers. That's right. That's right. And that's a wonderful thing about this organization is it's all people that just really care enough to put the work in. And so that's why we do this chapter. That's why all the local chapters and all across the country do it.

Mike Brasher: I've had the opportunity the past few weeks to visit with several folks that have not hunted before. and I was able to participate to help introduce a couple of those to hunting. That's a really special thing to do, but we were talking with them about the value of hunters and the financial contributions that come from license sales, whether it be state license sales, WMA permits, refuge permits, the federal duck stamp. Everyone aged 16 years or older is required to have one of those. And that's one of the most effective conservation investments that any person could ever make is purchasing a federal duck stamp. You don't have to be a hunter to do that. Anybody can do that. But every hunter, by virtue of buying a license, buying those stamps, the state waterfowl stamp from many different states, they have contributed to conservation. And when you go and harvest a bird and spend your time and spend your resources chasing these birds and sweating and being frustrated and falling down hills and then the reward on like, let's say, hopefully a morning like tomorrow, it gives you a connection. I was explaining this to a guy just the other day. It's hard to explain. It's hard to explain in words. But when you see people experience it, you know, for the most part, there are some folks that try it and they don't like it. It's just not for them and that's fine. But the people that do get it, it's like a switch that's flipped. And it's like, I can't really put words to that. But there's some visceral feeling and appreciation for that. And it causes you to care about that resource to a degree that Most folks that have been trying to explain it would simply say you just can't get from a lot of other experiences on as consistent of a level as you get from one hunter.

Hunter Yelverton: Well, as an outdoorsman, especially from a young age, you kind of grow a love for it, especially from the camaraderie that comes from it. But I joke with my dad and my family a lot that as land managers and conservationists, Sometimes we take better care of the land and the animals than we do of ourselves. We're losing sleep and we're skipping meals and stuff to go get out in the woods and chase these things. Most responsible hunters you meet really, really care about the land and what they have from it. It's pretty rare that you meet a hunter that just is extremely irresponsible and does not care about the land and the animals.

Drew Brown: Let's talk about tomorrow more. Tomorrow more in time. Let's talk about it. Let's get into it. All right. What do we got? You got it, Drew.

Mike Brasher: We just talked about getting excited as hunters.

Drew Brown: Yeah, here we go. This is my thing. All right. So, we're going to put the boats in tomorrow. We're going to travel across. I'll run in, sign in real quick. We'll head down, climb up the bank.

Mike Brasher: We're in like East Central Mississippi, the hot, the duck mecca of East Central Mississippi.

Drew Brown: The place to be, let me tell you. There are ducks over here. There are ducks over here. Chance of rain in the morning. I don't know. I don't know how I feel about it. It could be good. We'll stay a little bit later to see if they won't fly after the rain. The place we're going to is down. We're in a bad drought. Two years ago it was full. It has not been full since two years ago. So, but I'm thinking last time we hunted it, it was just about to where it was about to get back up in the trees. So I'm hoping with this amount of rain we got, which was a ton, is it'll be about shin to knee deep and that way we can hide the brush and they should be coming right on top of us. That's if we have them here. I mean, I'm hoping, so we were locked up bad the past, what, Four days ago. I mean you could have gone out there ice skating probably. Um, so Hopefully we catch them on the way back up. That's that's kind of what I'm thinking. Um, But we normally shoot pretty good when it's 45 38 degrees. Is that what it's gonna be in the morning? I think 48 look at that. No, not 48. I think it's gonna be like

Hunter Yelverton: right around 40, I think. Yeah, you're going to be touching 40s, lower 50s, stuff like that later in the day, not early in the morning.

Drew Brown: But this is a place I would say that if we were going to be anywhere, this is where we need to be. This is like scrub shrub, button willow. It's a bunch of buck brush, button bush in there. There's acorns over the slough, so there's acorns dropping there. I mean, this is, we hunted the other day and we hunted one side and then of course they wanted the other and they hit the water and in a corner. I'm just like, damn it. But, like, the good thing about the slew is that if you're on one side, you can shoot groups going over and then they'll just pitch down on the back side. Like, we would shoot and then five minutes, like, in the corner. So, it's cool. I mean, they're in there. We just got to hope they're in there in the morning.

Mike Brasher: Mostly mallards? What species should we expect?

Drew Brown: Teal are notorious for coming in there. When the gadwall are here, they're in there. When the Mallards are here, they're in there. It's just, it's got, it's got deep water, it's got shallow water, it's got food, it's got places to roost. I mean, I've walked there in the mornings, I had geese that flew over me from walking in. I mean, it's got every, in my eyes, I mean, we may get there in the morning and be like, this place sucks, but like, it's got, it's got everything that you would think a duck would want. I mean, it's, 400 yards long, just in the middle where I'm hoping there's water now, was dry. So, it's like in the middle it comes up and then it just drops off. So, there's water on both sides, buck brush all the way down the middle. So, was it totally dry this summer? So, it wasn't totally dry, but like normally… Alright, the first time we hunted it, we're walking through way steep water, whole way.

Mike Brasher: Is it mucky bottom? What's our bottom like?

Drew Brown: Pretty hard bottom. I mean, pretty good bottom, but right now, like when we walk in the morning, bone dry, should be. I mean, now I hope it's deep, because the deeper it is, they can swim in that brush, they can do whatever. But it should, I hope, man, with this rain that we got, it should be up enough to where we can stand in the brush, and then they… So you're not concerned about it being too deep? No, not at all. Now, if we shoot one out in the dead middle, we're gonna be swimming. But besides that, I mean, it's… Well, that's right.

Mike Brasher: We won't have a boat in there, will we? That's right. We take a boat to the bank.

Drew Brown: We had a boat in there.

Mike Brasher: There's an adventurous bank that I'm looking forward to, apparently, right?

Drew Brown: Right. We had drug a boat, we drug a boat up there and we drug it from where we're gonna step in all the way to where and like I'll stop us in the morning like this is where the water started because like I remember like it was yesterday it was we didn't sleep at all that night we went out there at 12 o'clock we're like we gotta go we got a lot of stuff to do so we pulled up the boat drug it through there and then put put it in and it took us probably an hour and a half we've never been in there before we didn't know anything Well, I take that back. We teal hunted it that year, and there was probably 300 blue wings in there. I mean, just last weekend of blue wing, I mean, just tons of them. So, we're like, we can come in here, we can hunt this, and that's when the water was up, of course, and we pushed a boat in there because, I mean, buck brush and everything. Now I got a cut trail. I mean, it's the best it's probably ever looked in there. Getting there wise, it's not bad. It's not a bad walk. I mean, it'll be interesting. I enjoyed it. I do it. It's fun.

Hunter Yelverton: Y'all gonna be in good hands. Drew is a heck of a guy. You're not going? I will not be there in the morning. Our good friend, one of our members, Cooper Little, will be replacing me. I've got to go out of town tomorrow, but… Well, we'll miss you. Yeah. It was nice talking to y'all tonight. And this is his home territory. I'm not quite from up here, but this is his home territory, so y'all are going to be in good hands. So, yeah.

Mike Brasher: It sounds a lot like the places where I grew up, hunting the scrub shrub and button willow. Is there cypress trees in there? Everywhere. Yeah. Yeah. It sounds a lot like that. Places where I've…

Drew Brown: If they're not there, we're going to look and be like… That's why it's called hunting. Yeah. But I mean, there's been mornings that we go in there and watch a couple and walk out with two. And then sometimes we get in there, we'll walk out with 20, 25. I remember last year, it was a family hunt. And I brought my dad, my granddad. My granddad got up the hill, so you'll be fine. I don't know why you're worried about me. I'm the old guy in the crowd, but I'll be alright. I think it was. The last weekend is when it was and we killed a six man. Everybody ran out of shells. Just crazy. I mean, we were picking up birds. Birds were still in the air. Then we went back in there. We skipped class on Tuesday and went back in there and we killed a four. So the last two hunts of the year, which is right now a year ago, I mean, they were, you couldn't keep them off of you. So if we just have a little bit of that in the morning, man, it'll be, it'll be so much fun. And nobody has anything to do, so we can stay a little bit later too. Get the second flight in. I'm bringing the grill. I have biscuits going. Are you serious? Oh, I'm mean on that grill. All right. Here we go.

Hunter Yelverton: No, we don't take anything lightly around here. We have a fun time at the duck camps around here. And I'll say this for some of my more national people listening that Mississippi is a sportsman's paradise, whether you're in the Delta or the Hills or the Pine Belt, there's great ducks, deer, turkey everywhere. So I highly recommend coming down here to Mississippi State and seeing us sometime.

Mike Brasher: Snipe, I hear you can even shoot some snipe around here. I have to get my snipe comment in. I've been shooting some snipe lately.

Drew Brown: I see that on your Instagram. Shooting shorebirds, man. The right kind of shorebirds. The ones that you're allowed to shoot.

Mike Brasher: So, how upset are you gonna be if we… I don't even know how many people we're gonna have in there, but how upset are you gonna be if… if you get the photo and we just smash it. I'll be okay.

Hunter Yelverton: You'll be happy for us. It'll probably bother me for a couple days and then I'll be okay. I promise you. I'm just here to be a pretty face on the camera. But yeah. As we kind of wind down, I just wanted to Give y'all a little, uh, little souvenir from our chapter I've had sitting in my pocket for the last two hours. No way. Bulldog Chapter Ducks Unlimited Koozie. Thank you very much. token of appreciation for y'all coming down here and seeing us. Hopefully y'all come back. We will be hosting our first ever concert for conservation presented by Mossy Oak. We're going to have Sam Barber come down to Rick's Cafe and he's going to play a private acoustic concert for us. Hopefully, we hope this is our biggest event ever and hopefully y'all come back and see us sometime.

Mike Brasher: What are the dates on that? March 19th. March 19th. All right, I'll get those dates from you here once we get off. I'll put it in my calendar. I don't, I'm not Don't have my calendar memorized well enough to know if I got anything there, but I'd love to come back. And man, thank you for this. This is cool. Look, I mean, best color, too.

Drew Brown: We can probably slide you in the back door. Oh, yeah, for sure. I do have a question, though. We free to get shales?

Derek Christians: Yeah, I brought a whole case. I got a whole case for you guys.

Drew Brown: Kent Cartridge hooked you guys up. Yeah, I can't, man. That ain't no joke right here. That ain't no joke.

Derek Christians: Two fours too, man. Two fours stack. I've been hearing a lot of good things from the students. They've been enjoying them all season.

Drew Brown: Hopefully that black duck falls over.

Derek Christians: I know.

Drew Brown: He's going to be on edge like all the time now. I'm just glad we're all getting to go, man. I'm really blessed to be able to do and have the the access and do something like this. And when I, when the opportunity presented itself, man, I was like, I would love, love to do it. And I'm glad you made the trip down. We're going to have the whole thing on video. We're going to have a good time regardless, but you're, you're staying Sunday too, right? Correct. Yep.

Mike Brasher: So I'm taking off tomorrow afternoon.

Drew Brown: Yep. Okay.

Mike Brasher: So heading back, trying to do, going to try to do some more hunting, um, up in my kind of home stomping grounds. I like to do that sort of towards the end of the season. So.

Derek Christians: I don't blame you. All right. Well, I don't, I don't really want to ask you guys the question, what you're going to do after duck season. I don't really want to think about it. Just shoot a turkey in the mouth.

Drew Brown: There you go.

Hunter Yelverton: I'm going to watch some baseball. That's what I'm going to do. Baseball is our big sport around here. Yeah.

Derek Christians: How's Mississippi state looking this year?

Hunter Yelverton: We, we came off that national championship a couple of years ago. We're still living on that, right? We're still, we're still kind of, still kind of living on top of that, but hopefully we have a good, a good baseball season down here and it's a fun time. I tell you what, so that's what I'll be doing after duck season.

Mike Brasher: I am proud to say that I was in Omaha for the national. It was incredible. I had, I did not want to miss it. And I didn't miss it. And man, it was, it was amazing. And it hasn't been, hasn't really been amazing since.

Hunter Yelverton: That was one of those moments where you were just out all night and you just never wanted it to end.

Mike Brasher: No, I think I pretty much was out all night.

Drew Brown: I'll tell you this too, what you said about What we're gonna do after season we've got got some pretty big things in the works for for next year We're talking about putting culverts in and taking a track down there clearing some stuff out So, you know this year like one of my best holes last year did not get water till January 8th Wow, like we would go in there we'd kill 15 or 20 just about every time you could go in there every day if you want to did not have water January 8th, so we're gonna try to implement a Culverts to that was raised this year this year. Okay. Yeah, like you could have drove I could've drove my truck all night and it would've been fine.

Mike Brasher: It's just crazy. I was gonna show you those pictures earlier where two weeks ago I was in North Mississippi and it was bone dry, and right now there's three feet of water in it, which is where it needs to be. I mean, it's probably similar to the type of habitat where we're gonna be tomorrow.

Drew Brown: Tomorrow, the water depth should be about… I'm hoping… I mean, that's a better… Which would be… But it's hard to hide in Bug Brush when you don't have water. You can't do it. But now, When we hunted two years ago, where I wanted to stand in the morning and when it was waist deep, you could hunker down and you're fine because your legs weren't there. But I have a backup plan if we can't go there. We can sit on the side of the tree line and hide pretty good. But it should be good, man. I'm fired up. It should be good. We should do all right.

Mike Brasher: Well, thank you guys for everything that you do.

Drew Brown: No, thank you, man.

Mike Brasher: I appreciate it. Well, thank you for the hunt tomorrow, but thank you for everything, more importantly, that you do for Ducks Unlimited. Oh, yeah, absolutely. Y'all are what make us go.

Hunter Yelverton: Absolutely. We love it. We love it every minute of it. That's why we put in the time we do, and we keep doing it year after year. So, yeah.

Derek Christians: All right. You guys all good? I'm good if you're good. All right. Thank you, Derek, for inviting me on this. I really appreciate it. You're welcome. No, I love getting the opportunity to do this. And it's sad to say that this is going to be our last trip for this duck season, but it's not over yet. We're going to be doing some hunting this spring. So, but that's going to do it here at Mississippi State. Thank you guys again. Stay tuned for this upcoming video. We gave you guys kind of what we're expecting for the morning, but see how it goes in our next video. So, that's going to do it here with the Campus Waterfowl podcast. We'll see you in the next one.