OUTFITTER REVIEW ON:
Part 1:THE HUNT
by dan johnson
|I can’t think of a better place to be at 4:30 am than Winsted, Minnesota starting out the day with an amazing Minnesota Waterfowl Hunt! Our guide, outfitter Phil Schmidt, informed us that we would be hunting a pond that he had been scouting, with over 200 ducks and multiple groups of Canada geese frequenting over the past few weeks. According to Phil, this was going to be the first time anyone had hunted this pond since opener. Needless to say we were extremely excited and couldn't wait to get on the water.|
The big October moon gave us plenty of light as we made it down to the water’s edge. Before we made our way across the water, Phil explained where we were going to set up, well before shooting time started. Again, Phil made sure that everyone knew what the next step was so there was no confusion. The moon gave not only enough light see where we needed to paddle the boats, but also the silhouette of the decoys and even a few ducks moving on the water. When we finally made it to the decoys Phil and Derek made sure that all of the boats were pulled up into the cattails far enough to be out of sight from incoming birds. They also did a great job making a blind from the back and over top of us with the surrounding cattails, so no matter what way the birds came by they would have a hard time seeing anything that was out of the ordinary.
As we settled into the blind Phil and Dan Wennerlind were in one boat, while Bill and Steve who were hunting with Phil today from Florida, and myself were in the second boat. Derek was also nearby in his own. During the time we were waiting for the shooting time to get closer, we could hear more and more birds starting to make noise as the night turned to day. Before we could barely see past the decoys the ducks were starting to fly. “15 minutes to shooting time” said Phil, “10 Minutes to shooting time, 3 minutes to shooting time get ready!”
|Almost immediately as shooting time arrived we had a group of teal come zipping by the boats so close that you could have stuck out your hand and grabbed one of them. Phil yelled, “Take ‘em guys!” and two teal dropped to the water. The next half hour was a barrage of teal, widgeon, and mallards coming in from every direction. The teal would come flying by so fast sometimes from behind us that you could hardly see them before they were half way into the decoys and almost down on the water.|
The decoy spread that Phil had decided to go with today was a mixture of around forty decoys made up of Canada geese, mallards, wood ducks, teal, widgeon and one robo duck. The ducks definitely liked what they saw and Phil had no doubt put us in the perfect spot! The birds were determined to land in our decoys no matter how much shooting they heard.
Outfitter Phil Schmidt of Goose Busters Guide Service has been guiding in the west metro area of the Twin Cities for 9 seasons now. He had been scouting this particular pond for the past few weeks and was just waiting for the perfect time to get out and take ‘em down!
After the first group of teal flew in and we dropped the first couple birds of the day, there was already another group set up to fly right into the decoys.“Here they come straight ahead, take em guys!” said Phil. And again birds dropped! It seemed that almost as quick as they hit the water, Phil spotted more ducks across the pond that were looking for a place to land. Mallards! Phil started calling and the ducks turned right toward us. After taking one big loop around the edge of the water they were ready to come into the decoys, about twelve feet off the water. “Take em!” Shots rang out across the water and we knocked down another three ducks. “Here they come, to the right,” more mallards were coming in from a different group just over top of us. When Phil gave the go ahead to shoot these ducks, they were right on top of us. It was great being able to see all the color that they already had even for the middle of October. As I looked around at the rest of the hunting party it was good to see I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t keep his gun loaded fast enough to keep up with the ducks, they just seemed to keep coming....Steve’s dog Major, who was in the boat with us, could hardly contain himself from running circles in the boat, being so excited with what just the first few moments of the morning had brought. After waiting for a couple of minutes, and finally seeing no birds flying, Phil said it was time to pick up the birds that we had knocked down. Steve gave the signal and Major was out of the boat bringing in birds as fast as he could, and heading back for more. Derek was also out in his boat to help pick up the downed birds. Derek had just grabbed his first bird when Phil spotted more birds coming toward the decoys. Making just a few sounds on his call the ducks were already committed-
coming right into the decoys again! Derek backed his boat to the western edge of the decoys while Major kept retrieving downed ducks as Phil gave the go-ahead to shoot. This time they were pintails that hit the water. It was just a little too early in the season for the birds, mallards or pintails, to have all of their feathers changed to their late season vibrancy. It was eveident that there was a lot of excitement from everyone in the group today, as we were getting to enjoy the amazing show that is Minnesota ducks locking up into a set of decoys!
|After the pintails had been retrieved and the remaining birds that were still floating on the water were in the boats, the sun came out from behind the clouds. As soon as that shift happened Phil was instantly telling everyone what to expect from the birds now, and how we needed to react when we saw birds in the air. Phil told us that as the sun came out and got higher into the sky, the birds would start to do the same. Flying high and looking for a safe place to land. We needed to make sure that as soon as we spotted birds, that we crouched down or sat as low as possible in the boats to stay hidden from the incoming birds, scoping out the spread from above.|
Not more than a few minutes after Phil gave everyone the heads up on the changes with the duck patterns, more birds were circling overhead ready to come into the decoys. It was another flock of big mallards and as Phil had predicted they were at the highest point they had been all morning. But sure enough there was still no question where the birds wanted to be. Phil again gave a few coaxing calls to the ducks, as we all crouched down low.
With hardly any delay the birds turned and were headed towards the far edge of the decoys, then making their turn while getting lower and lower, they were right over top of us. “Shoot these ducks guys!” said Phil and shots sounded out on the water. The birds were flying so fast that they were nearly straight above us by the time we had our guns to our shoulders and shot. Steve, who had been wearing a video camera on his hat all morning got some of the best video of the day. He swung his gun so fast he fell backwards nearly taking himself right out of the boat. As the shots sounded his friend Bill showed Steve little sympathy for his situation- laughing more than he was willing to give his buddy and hand back into the upright position. Steve watched the birds fall to the water from his horizontal position. For the next hour the birds kept flying high with a few groups deciding it was a suitable place to land, as well as those who decided it just wasn’t right for them. We had 7 different species of ducks already down- What A Day!
As the hunting started to slow down I started to visit with Bill and Steve who were up from Florida, and asked them why they had decided to book the hunt with Phil today. They told me that it was Derek, a mutual friend of theirs, that had shared with them what a great job that Phil does. Initially that got them excited about the hunt. Then they did some research on their own about Phil's operation online and couldn’t find anything but great info about his past hunts so they booked today's hunt without hesitation. Prior to this, Bill and Steve had been hunting in Minnesota for the past few days and had only been seeing a few birds here and there, nothing like what we saw during our hunt today they said.
After we decided to call the hunt for the day, we all helped Phil and Derek pick up the spread. Sure enough just as we were about half way across the lake after picking the decoys, six Canada geese came flying in with their legs down and locked up from behind us. When they saw us out in the boats, instead of being scared off, they made four loops around the pond still looking for a place to land. This proved to us again that Phil had done a great job scouting and knew exactly where the birds wanted to be and had put us in a prime location for a great hunt!
One of Phil’s favorite parts of the day is having breakfast / lunch with his hunters after the hunt is over. After we made our way to the local café we spent the next hour talking about the hunt and what everyone’s highlight was. We also were able to learn about some of Phil’s techniques that he uses when duck hunting, as well as the other hunts that he offers. This extra time with Phil off the water getting to talk about his overall business was a great way to see firsthand how much he wants to learn about your experience from the hunt and what he can do better to improve it for the next group that he takes out.
|After talking with Phil we found out that he hunts on over 75 different fields and sloughs throughout the fall, just west of the Twin Cities. These areas range from Monticello to Hutchinson. He is also able to accommodate goose hunters and duck hunters alike, depending on what each customer is interested in hunting. Phil limits his hunts to a ½ day so that he can get out and scout for the next day. He also only books hunts 4 days a week in order to make sure that the birds can have a rest and that there is always a fresh location for his next group of hunters. In addition Phil only has one group of hunters in each day and limits the group size to a maximum of 4 hunters and 2 guides on all of his fall waterfowl hunts. Because of these practices year after year Goose Busters Guide Service has over 90% rebooking rate! |
In addition to his fall waterfowl hunts, Phil has also been expanding the hunting opportunities he offers his to hunters. The latest and most exciting hunt Phil now offers is a summer field pigeon hunt. These pigeon hunts are conducted similar to the waterfowl hunts, with decoys and a layout blind set up in pastures and grain fields. Each day Phil is out scouting the day before the hunt to find where the birds are feeding. Pigeons typically only feed for a few hours in the morning and just like ducks can be coming in from all directions so fast that you might not be able to load your gun fast enough. In fact Phil says that on average his hunters shoot 50+ pigeons per hunt- all in the decoys! Phil plans to run his pigeon hunts full time this summer as it has become such a popular sport for his existing customers.
The continued focus and drive that Phil has to increase the quality of his hunts proves why he is definitely one of the best in the business.
| more photos from the hunt...|
Part 2: THE REVIEW
|OUTFITTER KNOWLEDGE / PERSONALITY: ||Score||5 / 5 |
|It was clear to see through the day that all aspects of Phil’s hunts are enjoyable. From his great personality to his expert knowledge of the birds as well as the surrounding area. Teaming with his determination to have a quality hunt each and every day, it made this day, as well as most others an absolute success!|
|QUALITY OF |
|Score||5 / 5|
|For this set up we hunted over about 40 floater decoys including a mixture of Canada goose decoys, mallards, wood ducks, teal, widgeon and one robo mallard. Phil likes to mix in about 4 or 5 different brands from top of the line manufacturers to make his spread look as realistic as possible. On Phil’s duck hunts he makes every effort to make sure that everything is set up as quickly as possible for his hunters. Never requiring that hunters have to help get decoys or blinds set up for their own hunt. He wants to make sure that hunters have nothing but a great hunt, every time they go out with Phil.|
|Score||5 / 5|
|From the minute we arrived at our location we could immediately hear birds on the water and knew that it was going to be a good morning. Almost as quickly as shooting time arrived the birds just kept coming, and Phil’s expert calling skills made sure that the ducks new knew where they needed to be. It was very clear that Phil had been scouting hard well before the hunt took place. It was easy to tell that we were not only on the best spot on the water, but one of the best places in the area to be hunting.|
|QUALITY OF MEALS |
|Score||3 / 5|
|Phil does not offer lodging with his hunts. However he is usually hunting within an hour of downtown Minneapolis, so for his local hunters that aspect of the hunt is not necessary. For his out of town hunters, Phil is able to make a recommendation for a clean, economical motel in close proximity to where they will be hunting. |
HUNT PACKAGES AND
|Score||5 / 5|
|Phil runs ½ day hunts, usually in the morning. He charges $175.00 per hunt for early season hunts. His regular and late season hunts are $150 per hunt. In addition to that Phil only allows a maximum of 4 hunters and two guides on the water at one time- guides. For the effort and the caliber of hunt that he is able to offer this is a steal! |
|OVERALL QUALITY |
OF THE TRIP:
|Score||5 / 5 |
|Every detail of the hunt was well planned and the overall atmosphere throughout the hunt was light hearted and fun. We also had plenty of opportunities to take multiple species of ducks in good numbers. After the hunt was over we all had a chance to have breakfast with Phil, offering a chance to visit with Phil about our hunt but also some of the different techniques that he uses as well as the variety of hunts that he offers to hunters.|
Part 3: Booking Information
|Contact Information For Goose Busters Guide Service|
Outfitter: Phil Schmidt
Address: 8517 Dempsey Ave. SW Waverly, MN 55390
Email Address: Phil prefers to do business over the phone
Website Address: goosebustersgs.com
Additional Services Offered
- Early Season Canada Goose Hunts (September - Minnesota)
- Late Season Canada Goose Hunts (December - Minnesota)
- Summer Pidgeon Hunts (June - August - Minnesota)
- Spring Snow Goose Hunts (March - April -South Dakota)
For more information on any of these hunts be sure to give Phil a call ASAP as 90% of his hunts are pre booked each year from his repeat customers
HUNTTHENORTH.COM OUTFITTER REVIEW
Last November we joined Phil Schmidt of Goose Busters Guide Service on a fantastic Canada Goose / Mallard Combo Hunt about 45 minutes northwest of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Talk about action packed! We had a full limit of Canada geese in hand with several bonus mallards before they stopped servicing breakfast at the local restaurant. This was a great hunt for Canada geese with Phil from 2009. Be sure to read about this and get a feel for Phil's regular season Canada goose hunts!
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