Bucks and ducks

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

I'm on my way back from a hunting trip in Kansas. Was it ever a trip! I shot a buck — eight points — that'll probably score somewhere around 145. That's not the biggest deer in the world, but it's respectable for an eight-pointer. I'm happy with it.

The real thing about this trip, though, was the duck hunting. We — my brother-in-law Russ and me — hunted out of a place called Carter's Big Island Hunting Club. It's located on the Neosho River, near the Neosho Waterfowl Refuge in St. Paul, Kansas.

Let me tell you, I've duck hunted around the country over the years, but I've never been to a place like Carter's Island. We hunted flooded, standing timber that was both functional and beautiful. Some mornings we had as many as 200 ducks sitting on the water with our decoys before safe shooting light.

Then, when the sun came up and there was enough light to shoot, we'd see as many as 500 in the air. Groups of 10, 15, 25 and 50 were everywhere. I've never seen so many ducks. It was a limit every time we went out. Unbelievable!

And the dogs: Roy Carter, the man who owns and runs the operation, has some of the best trained black labs I've ever had the privilege of hunting with. It's amazing what they're able to do — watch for birds, retrieve, remember where several ducks went down — when their instincts are guided by an experienced human hand.

Watching dogs like that work is a real privilege. It's almost worth the trip just to see them do their thing. You won't see it every day, I'll guarantee you that.

This hunting club is an example of what can be done by someone who's serious about our natural resources. The Carter family has owned and leased land in the immediate area for about 100 years. Over the decades they've taken great pains to develop duck habitat and enhance their clients' experience.

They have professionally managed fields of grain — corn, milo and soybeans — to attract the ducks as well as vast stretches of standing, flooded timber. In all, their hunting lands cover some 2,500 aces. And when you're done hunting you can have a delicious steak dinner at their restaurant in town. It's as good as anywhere I've ever eaten.

Carter's Big Island Hunting Club is the destination of a lifetime. In my opinion, hunting there is like bass fishing on Falcon Lake. There are a lot of great bass lakes in our country; you can catch big fish in any number of waters. But there's only one Falcon, and there's only one Carter's Island.

If you're a hunter you should check this place out. Their Web site is www.cbihuntclub.com, or you can call them at 620-232-4829.

The Carter family is just further proof that it's all about the attitude.

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