Hunting Canvasbacks On The Mississippi River With Hideaway Hollow Outfitters
by brandon jensen
FOOTAGE FROM THE 2010 HUNTING SEASON
Riding in a 20’ duck boat blind at 4am on the Mississippi River in the pitch dark is not what a normal person would enjoy, however today I was in my glory! I was heading out on Pool 9 of the Mississippi River just south of Ferryville, Wisconsin with Capt. Matt Raley of Hideaway Hollow Outfitters and one of my good hunting buddies Trygve Chinander. Matt guided his boat down the dark river with ease, just as he does almost everyday of the Wisconsin waterfowl hunting season.
Upon arrival to our spot for the morning Matt pulled us up closer to shore and shut down the motor and as he does every morning, jumped out of the front of the boat so he could get us into our “hiding spot” for the day. Matt pulled us into shore and snugged the boat up behind some cattails and vegetation. It was still too early to set up the decoys, so we discussed what the plan was and what we could expect for the day.
Matt told us that he had been seeing over 100,000 Canvasbacks on the river the past week, but he also told us that the weather forecast was not in our favor for the day. It was suppose to be 68 degrees with a very slight wind which is almost unheard of for the end of November! As time went on it became time to set up the spread. Matt again jumped into the water as Trygve and I handed him decoys. He had decoys everywhere in the boat!! Matt set up a spread of around 80 beautful oversized Avery duck decoys and a couple bonus Canad goose decoys to boot. Matt explained that the original forecast he had heard for the day was to have wind around 15mph, but now that forecast had changed to hardly any wind which was not what we wanted to hear, but our spirits were high.
As Matt jumped back into the boat we only had to wait about ten more minutes for legal shooting light. About 7 min. later a hen and drake Mallard appeared from the right anddropped picture perfect into the decoys- we thought it was a start to what was going to be a great day.
It’s time Matt said as we heard a couple gun shots from up the river. And all of a sudden it was like the river went dead. We didn’t see anything for about 20 min. Then I heard Matt say we have a bull Canvasback coming from the south. He swung up the river and took a hard right, right into the decoys. I heard Matt say “shoot em’ up” and with the duck’s wings cupped and its landing gear down, I arose from the blind and dropped it cold, right in the spread! It was a beautiful drake Canvasback, the duck I really wanted to shoot today, and it happened to be the first one that came into the spread! Matt again jumped out of the front of the boat to retrieve my duck. As Matt got back to the boat he handed me the bull can and congratulated me. I looked at it with a huge smile on my face, and already began to think about how I was going to get it mounted.
Brandon Jensen With His First Bull Canvasback- Another Happy Hideaway Hollow Outfitters Customer!
After that we saw a couple flocks further out in the river but nothing came close enough to get a shot at. About the time Matt asked us if we were ready for breakfast another bull Canvasback swung through the decoys but we missed him. So Matt proceeded to start breakfast. He started by putting an entire pound of bacon into the fry pan and said, “Every good breakfast in the duck blind starts with a pound of bacon.” After the bacon was done he scrambled a dozen eggs and mixed in the cut up bacon. At the end Matt put a bag of shredded cheese on top and served it up. It was amazing and just what these two hunters needed to get re-energized!
Just as we were finishing the meal two gadwalls flew right over the spread and we dropped the drake. What a way to end breakfast! As the day progressed we got a good look at one more bull Canvasback but again missed. At about 12:30 Matt had decided that the action wasn’t going to pick up as there was still no wind. At that point we decided to head back to the landing. We helped pick up the spread and off we went back to the Ferryville landing. The view on the ride back was absolutely amazing. On our trip back to the launch Matt shared with us that he felt bad at the lack of action we experienced this day and stated that this day was not at all a reflection of a typical day on the river. Matt went on to share with us that the majority of his hunters this fall had opportunities at a full daily bag limit during their hunt including a trophy drake Canvasback which is the main draw for most of Matt’s clients, but Mother Nature did not cooperate this day and enjoying the scenery and a good day on the river is better than a day at work any day, we both agreed.
To a lot of hunters it is all about getting a limit of ducks, but to me it’s all about the experience and learning something new every time I go out hunting. And today was not short of that. This was the first “diver” duck hunt I had been on and I loved every minute of it. Matt is a great guide and a very knowledgable outfitter. It was evident that he loves what he does and I would recommend him to anyone who is interested in shooting a trophy Canvasback, or just enjoys a high quality diver hunt with a great guy on the Mississippi River!
Part 2: THE REVIEW
OUTFITTER KNOWLEDGE / PERSONALITY:
5 / 5
One of the nice aspects about Matt’s duck hunts is that you actually hunt with the outfitter himself. Matt is a very knowledgeable and safe outfitter. Matt has a passion for making sure his hunter’s have a satisfying experience. Matt has been guiding hunters on the river for over 5 seasons now and has this down to a science.
QUALITY OF EQUIPMENT USED:
5 / 5
Matt uses a 20 foot Excel custom built boat blind fully equipped with a 33,000 btu heater and breakfast facilities. Matt also runs a spread of up to 150 oversized Avery duck decoys. From start to finish Matt runs a very professional operation. We were very impressed with his set up.
OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE GAME:
4 / 5
Although Mother Nature did not cooperate very well on this day, there were plenty of ducks on the river including upwards of 100,000 Canvasbacks but as we found with little to no wind and warm seasonal temps the birds were not moving. Both hunters had opportunities at trophy bull Cans on the hunt with a couple other opportunities at other species. Matt states that the majority of his hunters have good success early season at Cans, Mallards, Gadwalls and Teal. Then later in the fall they have good success for Redheads, Bluebills and Golden Eyes.
QUALITY OF MEALS AND LODGING:
3 / 5
Lodging is not included in the daily hunting rate but a hot tasty breakfast on the boat is. Matt has several options for his hunters for lodging including cabin rentals just minutes from the boat landing to a warm comfortable motel room also located within 10 minutes from the boat launch.
HUNT PACKAGES AND ADDITONAL FEES:
5 / 5
Matt offers half day hunts from before sunrise to 2 pm or a full days hunt from before sunrise to sunset. Matt’s half day hunts are $175.00 per hunter. Matt’s full day hunts also offer the option of an afternoon fishing or pheasant hunting combo added to the morning duck hunt or a full day on the river duck hunting for $300.00 per hunter.
OVERALL QUALITY OF THE TRIP:
5 / 5
Overall we felt the hunt was well put together from start to finish. Matt sent out an itinerary after we booked the hunt date and was in contact with us several times prior to the hunt date. Upon arrival Matt was prompt and had a very well thought out plan of action for the hunt. From the custom built duck boat to his knowledge of the river this was a first class hunting experience.
Overall Hideaway Hollow Outfitters Scored 27 Out Of 30 Giving Them An "A" Rating. We Would Not Hesitate To Refer Them For Their Excellent Mississippi River Duck Hunts!
27 / 30
Part 3: Booking Information
Contact Information For Hideaway Hollow Outfitters
Matt also offers World Class Wisconsin spring turkey hunts and is the HuntTheNorth.com officially endorsed Wisconsin turkey outfitter. In addition to the spring turkey hunts when summer rolls around Matt is one of the best Wisconsin muskie hunting guides out there. Matt has been chasing “Big Muskies” across Wisconsin since he can remember and he is good at it. One final option that Matt offers once the Wisconsin fall waterfowl season ends, Matt heads down to Texas to guide for the HuntTheNorth.com official Texas waterfowl outfitter for redheads, pintails, and more. Be sure to contact Captain Matt Raley for details on anny of these exceptional hunting opportunities!