Ep. 511 – Inside DU TV with Videographer Austin Brown

00:00 John Gordon Hello everybody and welcome again to the Ducks Unlimited podcast. I'm your host, John Gordon, and I've got a special guest today, a gentleman I started working with. Oh, 2018-2019, but we first met on a Ducks Unlimited television set, Beaverdam Lake, 2015, on a pretty cool episode that was a ladies hunt. And it turned out really well. The weather worked out right. It's hard to make everything work out right sometimes, but it did in that particular episode. But Austin Brown, welcome to the Ducks Unlimited podcast.

00:30 Austin Brown Good to be here. I think the weather was a little extreme, it seemed like.

00:35 John Gordon Well, it was. I remember very well that there was a major cold front coming in from the north. Right before that shoot was going to happen, that was in, it was early January. And yeah, the temperatures for North Mississippi were going to be more like Canada, really. So, it was going to drop into the single digits. And with a lake like Beaver Dam, What you get is all the surrounding field areas that birds have been holding in and feeding in will freeze solid. And then what you get is a captive audience, so to speak. You know, if you've got open water, that's where they're all going to be. And that's what happened in that particular hunt. And y'all folks, you can check it out on the DU website. Yeah, it's in the 2015 season. It was a really great show, but Austin, you and Richie filmed that, and that's the first time I'd ever met y'all. I wasn't working for Ducks Unlimited at the time. I was just helping the Boyds out. As a matter of fact, Mike and Lamar Boyd, Beaver Dam Hunting Services, great host of that deal. Oh, let's see. Who was the cast of women? Let's see. Carrie Lingo. She was an Olympic gold medalist in field hockey. And then we had Christine Thomas, a longtime DU board member from Wisconsin. Jan Young from California and let's see Ainsley Beaman hosted that show and it was really cool. One thing that really stood out in my mind with Austin is it was really windy the first day when that front was coming in and it was blowing about 25 and the Boyd's Blind there at Beaver Dam, it looks like a big beaver hut more or less, but Austin got up on top of that blind and stayed up there the entire morning filming birds and it was pretty special, man. We all thought you were gonna freeze to death.

02:09 Austin Brown I remember just the, I don't even know is an inch or two inch thick ice. We had to break in boats and kind of going out there. I was thinking in the dark, cause you don't know that they've got a little bit of open water out front of the blinds. I was thinking, man, this is going to be a short hunt. And then we get out there and I mean, we've got the perfect, you know, 20 by 30 hole right in front of the blind and. And like I was telling you, we had such a good hunt. I think they've just the past couple of years stopped using that actual footage from that hunt as far as for like intros and other, other things. Cause it was so, I mean, right in your face. I mean, and they run a great operation. I mean, that's like picture perfect, easy hunt, roll up to the blind. I mean, that's not something that you're used to hunting on public land. So that was, it was pretty spectacular to say the least.

02:47 John Gordon Yeah, and that leads me into what I really want to talk about with you today is the real challenges of filming a waterfowl hunting TV show. I mean, I know you've done Big Game and other stuff. I mean, is there anything more challenging than doing waterfowl?

03:01 Austin Brown I mean, the thing with waterfowl too, is a lot of things that people don't see is like, just, you know, normally like me being a public land doctor in Arkansas, I know that there's challenges in itself, just trying to get birds where you want them. But then like multiply that by like three, you're hiding, you know, two more guys, maybe three more guys, depending if you got a sound guy or whatever you're doing. And then. trying to get the birds, you know, 20 or 30 yards right, you know, right in front of the camera. Cause like you mentioned earlier, if they're not on camera, then that one doesn't count. So that's the, uh, and then not, not to mention, I remember one of the first trips that I went to, uh, with John Paul Morris in North Dakota, blizzard, snowy conditions, trying to keep camera gear dry. I mean, then We had to, this was a public land spot, so we had to walk in like a mile. So we're carrying, you know, 30 or 40 extra pounds, easy of camera gear, and you get out there, blizzard, and it's just, you know, times, multiply however hard the hunt is by about two or three, and then you're going to get, let's film a show for DUTV. So that's how it usually works.

03:55 John Gordon Yeah, isn't that the truth, Ed? It's a lot more difficult, too. And it's difficult as well, the fact that you're not just hunting three or four people. You've also got a cameraman inside the blind. You've got a guy outside the blind. So what are the real challenges of hiding from the birds?

04:10 Austin Brown Well, I mean, basically, you know, before every hunt, we try to have the conference call and figure out a way that we're going to make this work. Because if you've got like trees or stuff, it's usually easier to hide people. But if you get out in some of those fields, like in a Canada or something like that, now the A-frame, uh, invention of the blind has obviously made that a lot easier because you can drop somebody back. But before that, you're sitting on your back, laying out there trying to hide two or three guys in layout blinds. And that is, I mean, that's a nightmare. Nobody likes to sit on their back and film birds coming over your head. So that's definitely a major challenge of it.

04:37 John Gordon Yeah that's one that has been a big change and it really has helped film television to me the A-frame style where you've got the portable blinds you can set up you can also make as a little portable one-man blind right for the camera operator who's filming birds and folks that's how it works okay you what you see is the final product you see the birds coming in and guys getting up and shooting but it's two guys right and one that really focuses on the waterfowl themselves and somebody else is focusing on the conversations and the blind and the and the shooters. Folks, y'all have seen Austin's work quite a bit on DUTV if you're a fan. He does incredible work capturing those birds in flight. I mean, coming in to the decoys, flying over, I mean, that's a challenge in itself.

05:20 Austin Brown Well, that's another thing too, as far as like, you got to make sure the wind's right, but then also the sun's got to line up because you can't be looking, you know, that's a lot of, you know, when you're hunting, usually you always want the sun at your back, but when you get, you know, when you're hunting with different, every time we go somewhere, it's a new, different, different people that don't know how you hunt. So you've got to line up the wind, line up the sun and it's all, uh, it just all keeps going. And then, like you said, hiding people, that's the, that's usually the main, the biggest challenge, I would say.

05:44 John Gordon Another aspect that that's really difficult, it's really challenging for waterfowl hunting, any television show, where you've got a lot of moving parts and you've got people got to take off work, you've got, you know, maybe kids need to be out of school, whatever is is the fact that you've got to put these shows together. and, and pick the date range you're going to film in, in, you know, April, July, August. And this is going to take place in January or December. And you have no idea what the weather conditions are going to be. Austin, give us a little example of, of how that can really change everything.

06:14 Austin Brown Oh, yeah. Weather's huge. And then, like I said, the biggest part about even with the weather is just keeping all that camera gear, like, you know, You got to have almost a perfect condition because you start burning through camera gear. It's going to get expensive quick. Uh, last year, I know we went up to Maine. It may have been two years ago. And a guy, I just remember looking over a guy we're going out across this, uh, yeah, sound or whatever they call it up there. I'm not a big seat, a guy, but anyways, just the waves, you know, all that saltwater spray going everywhere. It's raining. I look over there and he's got like a camera. He's got his life jacket on and a cat in his coat draped over, you know, I mean, it's just stuff like that, that people don't really see behind the scenes. It's, you can't really show it, but that's stuff that goes into making a show is just keeping all that gear in perfect condition. I mean, it's a nightmare a lot of times.

06:59 John Gordon So, yeah, folks, I mean, you're dealing sometimes with, like I said, with, uh, with a lot of cold, you got extreme cold, you got, it's too warm. I mean, it's raining, it's going to storm. It's, it's snowing. I mean, it, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's. Because, let's face it, I mean, outside of teal season and some of the early seasons in Canada and stuff like that, you're really dealing with weather that could change on a dime, just like it did that day at Beaverdam, where it went from pretty typical lows in the 30s, 40s, to low, that second morning was eight degrees there in Tunica, Mississippi, which is really unseasonable weather. But yeah, it makes for great hunting a lot of times. I mean, down here in the South, You know, we're really sort of weather dependent. It's, uh, you know, I mean, you just, you gotta get those fresh pushes of birds.

07:44 Austin Brown Oh yeah. The, uh, I always give guy a hard time. Like his go-to rental vehicle is a minivan. And so we'll, I've got videos of him. We'll be up in Canada and he'll be just driving this minivan out across this field, like cutting over corn stalks or, you know, where they've harvested or whatever. So, and, and that's the other thing you don't get to see is like, uh, in North Dakota last year, you got that thing stuck. I mean, here we are. Cause it was, when we got North Dakota, it was like, uh, you know, sunny skies supposed to be a perfect week. Well, day two pouring down rain. I mean, we're sitting there slipping or slipping and sliding. So it's just, uh, all this stuff you try to plan ahead, like you said, never. gets planned accordingly. So you just got to go with what it is.

08:21 John Gordon God does love the minivan, doesn't he? You know, and I get it. I mean, y'all got a lot of equipment.

08:25 Austin Brown That's right. Well, and nowadays it's the only thing that's usually available. I mean, you go to like, do you have a four wheel drive truck? They never have one. So it's like, do we going to be in the, you know, the small Ford Taurus, or are we going to be in the, in the minivan? That's your two choices. So you gotta go minivan.

08:39 John Gordon Gotta go minivan, and I know it. That's part of that, and I know y'all over the years have had to, you know, go out of your way sometimes to pick up the host, you know, from different airports and stuff like that. So, there's a lot of coordination that goes on behind the scenes that folks are just watching the show, a 22-minute show with commercials, you know, 30 minutes. They never see it, you know. It's pretty fascinating. Tell us a little bit about your background, how you got involved with videography.

09:07 Austin Brown Yeah, just, I went to school, you know, marketing management's kind of the degree, so I'm not really, I guess, taught, I'm self-taught, I guess is the way to say it, on like the editing and the filming side of it. It's just like picking it up, you know, I always enjoyed being outdoors and then, you know, just kind of getting a job here and there, and then you just kind of work from there, who you know, and then, you know, do a good job here, you're going to get another job, and so that kind of just expanded from that. I think probably the thing that gives me an advantage as far as, like you mentioned, filming birds is just that, you know, I've always grown up waterfowl hunting here in Arkansas, and It's just kind of been a passion of mine. So I've kind of, it's, it's kind of easy for me to kind of know when a duck's going to commit or what it's going to do. I would say somebody that might be a big game hunter might not, you know, have that. instinct of when a bird's gonna, you know, dip in or when they're gonna fly away or whatever, so I think that gives me a little bit advantage, the bird side of it, so.

09:52 John Gordon I think that's an important point that the best videographers that I've worked with on the waterfowl side of it, with the exception of our buddy Zach Eshelman, he really picked it up pretty quickly on picking up birds in flight and how to capture it, you know, really to make it entertaining. is the fact that you really, the best ones that I've worked with, have got pretty extensive hunting backgrounds, especially waterfowl hunting. And like you said, you're an Arkansas native, I mean, so you were, I'm sure, a little kid, you know, tagging along with older guys, your dad and such, and chasing birds here in Arkansas, and that gives you a big advantage.

10:26 Austin Brown Yes, for sure. Once you've seen it a couple of times, you know what's going on, but if you've done the fishing or the big game and then they try to throw you in there and try to film birds, I would say it could be more of a challenge, so to speak, for sure. Guys picked it up great, but he's got to see it over and over again, see how it works. I think that's a huge… Seeing it again and again starts being easier, obviously, like anything else, but to throw you out there in the… in the woods or something trying to guess when they're going to pitch in. It could probably be a little bit of a challenge, I would say.

10:57 John Gordon I know a lot of what Zach has done is that he's pretty good about figuring out where to position GoPros, you know, to where, you know, he's might be focusing on a different area, but he's got that GoPro right there in the decoys where, you know, you get them dropping in and you still got that shot. So, there's all kind of, it's changed a lot. I remember, you know, I was a broadcast production major at Mississippi State and the, you know, the beta news casting type gear that was used back in those days. I mean those huge cameras that were very heavy that you had to you know put on your shoulder basically or tripods and there was you know it's it's it's changed a lot. Tell us about the advancements in technology and how that's really changed how it's done.

11:37 Austin Brown Oh, that's, you know, here in like Field Hudnall and Fred Zink, some of those guys talk about the old days when they were like, you mentioned taking those big, expensive, heavy cameras and setting those up. And then I think even like the cuts and stuff that they used to do on kind of the older show or like, you know, it'd be more focused on production side of it. You know, like as far as now we get away with things where we can, you know, easier to edit and easier to know when to shoot and stuff like that. So, and drones, for example, just over the past couple of years. You'd be taking like the inspire or something that's just huge in a big Pelican. Well, now you can get away with a, you know, 4k, you know, one 20, just, you know, state-of-the-art drone. You can put it in a backpack. So I think that's just huge over the past, even my own stuff. I've noticed the way that we've started off with camcorders and now you, a lot of times we'll just roll DSLR or something real small, throw that in a backpack. So as far as like traveling. Airlines, especially, that helps a lot, not having to worry about if your luggage is going to get there or whatever. You can throw all that stuff in a carry-on. So, you know, you got your cameras with you.

12:32 John Gordon You know that it happened in the past with shows is that the baggage ended up in a different location and the show was completely shot. There was no gear. Right. Right. I mean, yeah, that's a huge advantage of the fact that you can carry on cameras and you know they're going to be there when you need them.

12:47 Austin Brown Well, logistics to like field handles told me about, they'd show up to the airport, just have like the whole, you know, check in line block down. Cause they've got just like Hollywood production stuff coming through and then, you know, try getting all that out to the middle of a cornfield and, you know, Saskatchewan or something. I mean, it's just a, you know, debt definitely today, I would say is easier as far as, you know, filming in the field without, you know, hands down. So.

13:30 John Gordon Here's, here's one for you. Uh, you filmed all kinds of different hunts in different locations as far as what's the most challenging bird to really get on film correctly. Is it divers? It's gotta be, I would think.

13:41 Austin Brown Uh, yes. That would say if you get out there, I mean, I would say most of my hunts, uh, puddle ducks and stuff like that have been the majority, but we have like Maine, I mentioned, we went out there and trying to get those, you know, buffalo heads or stuff like they're just scooting across the water. Cause they're tough to pick up in the camera. And then if the lighting's not right, you're trying to work with all that. So. And like, obviously you try to get as tight as you can on a lot of these ducks. It's tough to get tight on like knowing what a diver is going to do. And I'll tell you, me not being a diver hunter, once again, I, you know, that's not something I'm going to have a lot of experience in. So somebody will probably look at my video and be like, man, what was this guy doing? So, I mean, that's just something that goes with. Now, I mean, like, you know, Mallard's in the trees. I think I know what's going to happen there, but like you throw me out in a, in a sea duck situation, I'm probably not the guy you want, you know. telling you how that's going to pan out. So anyway, disadvantage for sure.

14:29 John Gordon Yeah. Yeah. Hunting some divers on the Texas coast, especially redheads, you know, those jokers are like little fighter jets, right? So, I mean, they'll come bombing out of the sky and before you know it, they're right there and your decoys in your face and you know, we're a mallard where you're working it and they give you plenty of time, you know, swinging around and, you know, setting up and, and it's just, it's a heck of a lot easier, I would think. And Canada geese, too. It's got to be pretty easy. They're big birds anyway. And then you're calling to them and they're not moving nearly as swiftly. You know, some of my favorite footage since I've been a producer of DUTV that you did was that North Dakota shoot that was in the snow where those Canada's were just right in y'all's face, man. I mean, you got some extremely good closeup shots of those birds. I mean, just hanging right there.

15:12 Austin Brown Yeah, I think that was, if I remember right, that was up there, Buck Paradise with Field Hudnall, and that was, I mean, that was… No, this one was… It was last year. Was it?

15:21 John Gordon With Fred? No, it was with… Oh, Doug up there.

15:25 Austin Brown The Drake Waterfowl guys. Oh, yes, that was crazy. Yeah, that was… There was a lot of geese, and it was… A couple of those hunts was, like, freezing cold. We were glad the hunts were short because it was pretty much in your face quick, and we got back and got in the lodge, got warm. We got that camera… I mean, Like you said, when you start putting cold and camera gear together, it usually doesn't turn out like it should.

15:46 John Gordon I remember watching the weather before that hunt going, wow, it looks like it's going to be lows around zero. But it's like, you know, uh, the guy up there on that, uh, Matt Peel, Dirty Bird Outfitters in North Dakota, extremely experienced if, uh, you know, and he knew that in that part of the world, if the conditions got right, they were going to be right in y'all's face. I mean, they were going to be close and that's how it turned out.

16:07 Austin Brown I think, I think everybody before that trip, I know Doug and I specifically were like, man, what are we getting into on this trip? I think we might've even been, uh, talking bad about you being like, what is John got us into on this deal? You don't have to have faith on me, man. Well, I mean, we didn't have faith. It was like, are we going to be able, not if we're going to see birds or not, it's like, are we going to be able to function while we're out there with these birds? So it ended up, you know, a couple of those days, what is bad, typical, you know, weather forecast, what is bad as they said it was going to be in it. when you get those, those fronts and that weather all to line up perfect. I mean, you know, magic happens for sure.

16:39 John Gordon Yeah. Folks, you check that show out. Like I said, it was on, uh, it was from last year's season. And, uh, it's, uh, we like say with, uh, with, uh, some of the drag guys there in North Dakota and that's December in North Dakota, which, you know, the weather can, yeah, you know, it can go below zero at that point, big time up there, but that area that Matt hunts that near Lake Sakakawea, uh, those Missouri river headwaters are there. So it, It keeps that water open and all those birds will stay in there, Canada geese and mallards both. I know y'all saw a ton of mallards too.

17:07 Austin Brown We were basically targeting the Canada geese when we got up there, but the mallards, I think on the last day we kind of got thrown in on a little afternoon duck hunt, if I remember right. And they were, like you said, they were coming off that open water on that lake to those fields to feed. And it was, you know, impressive. It was just, you know, hundreds and thousands of mallards coming off that lake. It was pretty, pretty cool to see.

17:26 John Gordon Yeah, most people think, oh, it's frozen up up there. There can't be any birds left. Well, they're pretty resilient. You know, I mean, they don't, Mallards and Canada's especially, I call them kind of lazy birds because you got to freeze them out. You got to, the French freeze their feet to make them leave sometimes. You know, that's why we got to have that weather down here, you know, up there big time to have really good hunting in Arkansas, Mississippi, uh, West Tennessee. Um, yeah, we need it, but. Don't often get it lately, man. I just remember the winters being colder when I was a kid. I don't know why. It just seemed like I froze to death every time I went out there when I was like 10, 11 years old.

17:58 Austin Brown That may be true, but I remember a couple, I think two or three years ago, it got pretty cold down there in Arkansas because I think we were just trying to find open water there for a little while.

18:07 John Gordon You know, and I think about it, I was thinking about about the very tail end of the season last year. Remember that ice storm hit and it got down to, uh, yeah, it was pretty cold. I mean, it, well, you get ice and, and, and Memphis and stuff mixed together and man, it just turns into the, you know, a disaster and everybody just shuts down. But I remember, yeah, I actually took a couple of days off and I was hunting, uh, with my son, uh, over near Fair Oaks, Arkansas. And yeah, it was cold. And I remember looking at my dog and he had ice all over him and, uh, but he was out there. He was a champ, man. Young dog, you know, old buster, man. He's a, he's a, Well, he's in training right now. So he's he's getting ready for next year. Well this year I'm man, I keep I lose track of time Austin these days man. It's all running together before we know it will be on the DUTV be filmed again We're you know, mid-september kicks off, you know the in Texas once again.

18:53 Austin Brown Yeah, that's what you were to ask me about dates earlier I was telling you that a lot of this stuff runs together because and even last year to bring up the the weather I remember the Kansas trip we did right there at the very end. I went on a hunt with a buddy the day before and we were breaking ice in the Arkansas River Channel and it was like crazy. And then we get up there to Kansas and, you know, they got a little open water hole and then magic again. So that's what you're looking for.

19:14 John Gordon Man, that's why I hate to cancel hunts, right? And shoots. This is like… And I talked to the guide the day before y'all were going to leave, I believe, you know, and it was, it was cold, but I was like, look, man, are the, did the birds leave? Are they still there? And they're just hiding. And he said, oh, they're still here. And I was like, okay, well, I was looking at it. It was going to go right back up into the seventies. You know, it looked like, so everything was going to open up and I was, well, it should be, it should be fine, you know? And sure enough, I mean, but they were calling me, man. They were worried to death. Everybody gets, everybody gets terrified when the camera's turned on, right? This is not going to work out. Oh no, we don't want to do this. I'm like, look, This is hunting. Sometimes it doesn't work out, but sometimes it just, like I said, just like magic. I mean, just the conditions improve and there you go. It's, it's really an awesome deal.

19:57 Austin Brown Yeah. You really never know. I mean, the day before it can change it one way or the other. And like on that trip going up from Arkansas, you always get excited when you start seeing, you know, migrating waterfowl in the area you're going to be hunting. That always gives you like a little glimmer of hope because you just never know. You could hit it perfect. And that, that trip, it ended up working out like had just enough open water where we'd get up there and break a little ice off that morning. But then, you know, as long as you keep that water open a little bit and those birds are coming off the fields and stuff, it was, you know, pretty spectacular.

20:25 John Gordon Yeah. Yeah. That's Kansas. I love Kansas. It's not as a big known waterfowl state, a place like Arkansas or something like that. But, you know, Kansas has got, especially for Mallards, I mean, Kansas has got plenty of them, you know, and geese too, you know, Canada specs, they've got all that. I'm gonna switch gears for a second here because you know the reason that we're talking here together in beautiful Lake Ouachita, Arkansas is a little DU Nation folks. I mean everybody you know y'all know y'all are watching them because it's been doing really well and we decided you know with the success of DU Nation that we really wanted to do year-round content with it so that's really expanded it into a really outdoor lifestyle series right and so We were in, let's see, we were south of New Orleans last year, first episode of DUTV that's about to hit in the first week of July. And you brought up spearfishing. And I was like spearfishing. And I'm like, yeah, I had no idea. that you were big into it and you were like, well, man, we really need to do something for that. So we, we, uh, we showed up for the DU Nation cameras, folks, um, opening day, uh, Arkansas spearfishing season. And, um, I tell you what, it's really a really cool experience. I mean, uh, give us a little insight in, I mean, how you got involved in that deal.

21:40 Austin Brown Yeah, I've got a buddy that actually took me out years and years ago just to kind of, uh, introduce me to scuba diving and kind of started there. And then he was a big spear fisherman, you know, kind of, kind of once I went down there and did it for the first time after I got certified and everything like that on the scuba diving side, I was, I was hooked. So if I, if I had to describe it to somebody, I'm a big bow hunter. And so it's kind of like a, I would say bow hunting on steroids or something. Once you get down there, you're, you're trying to, uh, you know, get in position, you know, using rocks and the terrain to your advantage. And so it's, there's just a lot of, there's a lot of. a technique and strategy that I think, you know, probably a lot of people don't know about, but, and, and just what I've learned on, on fishing and, and how they are under the water and stuff like that. It's been a, a big, uh, something that I've learned a lot over the years.

22:24 John Gordon Probably a better fisherman above, uh, the water surface, you know, you, you know, what's going on down below, you know, and, and what to look for from structures. So Lake, Lake Washington, beautiful place. First time I'd been here. Oh man, it's just, uh, it's just, I like the way that the state of Arkansas has kept it pretty wild. You know, I mean, they've kept it as, it's a state park, am I correct? The entire lake, is it?

22:43 Austin Brown Yeah, the Corps of Engineers pretty much has all the land kind of around the lake. That's kind of kept most of it. There's a few little spots and pockets that have homes or, you know, marinas and stuff like that, but for the majority, you can't build on the actual, you know, shoreline, so to speak.

22:57 John Gordon Right, yeah, that keeps it, you know, like I said, a really clean look to it. You don't have houses all over the place. which a lot of lakes, you've got houses right there on the water everywhere. And not so at Ouachita. It's a huge lake, 40,000 acres. Very, you know, it's clear. I mean, very clear, very rocky bottom, very rocky shoreline. So that keeps that sediment out of it and keeps it really, really clear water. And that, you know, from what I just gathered being with y'all, that's a huge deal. You've got to be able to see what you're doing.

23:24 Austin Brown 100%. Yeah. A lot of these lakes around here, even the lake that, uh, we live further north up here. You can't, you could see, you know, five feet in front of your face if you're under the water, but here the, uh, the water's really clear. You know, we've got a couple other lakes like Greer's Ferry and stuff that, and Bull Shoals that you could see pretty good, but this is kind of just where I've always grown up. And then, you know, every year we have, you know, family camping trips over here and it's just, it's just closer to home. So it makes it easier for me traveling back and forth.

23:47 John Gordon Like I said, it's similar to bowhunting, right? I mean, you develop strategies and what's the real key to spotting a fish under the water and getting in position for a shot?

23:56 Austin Brown I would say kind of different fish will have different things. You know, walleye, the main thing that I see on those is their fins when they're underwater, you kind of see like a little white kind of coming down and they're kind of lower on the, obviously closer to the surface of the lake. Every fish kind of has different little niches, so to speak, too, of how they move and stuff like that. And that's just things that you learn about once you're down there. and doing it over and over. Like those, like we were talking about stripers earlier, you caught that big, big striper off the boat while we were here.

24:27 John Gordon Yeah, folks, I, I, uh, I did, I happened to catch a striper off the boat. I, it was totally by accident. Trust me. I had no idea that was going to happen. And, uh, I hook into a really nice striper off the, off the back of the boat when everybody was getting ready to dive. And it was like, uh, that, that, that really was a highlight of that first day. But, uh, um, yeah, so those different fish much like different areas, right?

24:48 Austin Brown Yeah, they have different characteristics on how they act, too. I would say catfish, for example, are probably a little bit more confident. If you kind of swim up to them, they're not as spooked, I would say. Striper, for instance, it's probably easier to catch them on top of the water than it is underneath spearing them because You may get like one shot at him, but once they kind of swim up to you and figure out what's going on, they're out of there. So you just kind of, there's a lot of strategy of how you approach different fish, when to take the shot and stuff like that. When I, when I first started, I was rushing my shot a lot. Like I was getting, you know, getting excited, obviously like anything else when you get down there. And I would say over the years, I've kind of got more confident being patient. That's the main thing. Cause you're only going to probably get one shot at just like a deer, very similar to bow hunting.

25:29 John Gordon Right. I mean, boy, you get nervous, you start shaking and you're, you know, and you're, and you just get, you know, you just wait for the right shot. You know, a lot, a lot of deer wounded, I'm sure missed. both because of the same fact, and you say the same thing with fish, I'm sure that it takes a minute to figure out, okay, I need to wait for the right shot to really take it. So, you know, pneumatic spear guns, you all use them?

25:49 Austin Brown Yes, yes. A lot of people, like I mentioned, some people use band guns, I never have. I don't do much saltwater spearfishing, so for us, it's pneumatic.

25:57 John Gordon So, so if somebody wanted to say, I mean, just beginners like, man, this spearfishing sounds like a great deal. You know, they, they watch this DU Nation episodes. I'd really like to get involved. So first steps, I guess, you have to, you've got to be certified to, uh, to be able to dive.

26:11 Austin Brown Yeah. Unless you're going to, I mean, you can always free dive and stuff like that. Um, I've always been on the scuba diving side of it. I kind of like it a little bit better in my opinion, but. Yeah, it's certified basic certifications probably all you're gonna need for like wash it all here You're probably only gonna be the deepest usually that we are is probably, you know, 35 40 feet top You know maximum on that end and then it just depends different times of the year. You'll be You know shallower like right now this early season. We may be 5 to 15 so it's a I wouldn't say nobody should be discouraged on how deep you are because it's pretty You know, pretty shallow for the most part. So if somebody was just wanting to get into it, they can start off shallow. And like I said, you can start off free diving, come out here and just kind of see if you like it and all that. If you want to get on the diving side of it, obviously basic certification. And then, um, like I was telling Zach. You know, a lot of this stuff you can get in for fairly cheap. You know, you look online just like anything else and everything's going to be expensive if you're buying it brand new, top of the line. But a lot of these people, you know, will get into diving for just a couple of years and you may find a deal on Facebook marketplace now or something like that, that somebody may not even taken out of the package. And so you can be in it, you know, for fairly cheap right off the bat. So.

27:16 John Gordon Yeah. You were telling me that diving is definitely not for everyone. So you ought to, maybe you should go down with somebody beforehand and see if you even want to do it. Am I correct?

27:24 Austin Brown Yes, no, for sure. You definitely, I would go somebody that, like I said, get certified or go to some of these, they've got these beginner courses. You go, even get in a swimming pool and go down there and see, because a lot of people are, you know, they'll get claustrophobic or stuff like that, and that may not be for them, you know. Like we were talking about, you know, I'm not a big golfer, so this is kind of my, you know, I'd rather be under the water, so I'm probably different than a lot of people out there, so.

27:47 John Gordon Well, no, man, I can tell, you know, he said, I mean, I, you know, I know from being around you for years that, I mean, that, that, you know, yeah, you love to hunt. And this is a real combination of hunting and fishing together. 100%.

27:59 Austin Brown And that's the thing too, kind of for, you know, Arkansas green timber, you only hunt it 60 days out of the year. So you got to find some, you got to find a few other hobbies. So this is, you know, when it's a hundred degrees outside, you know, at 35, you know, 40 feet, below the lake, it's going to be cool down there. So that's somewhere you can get out, escape the heat. And, uh, it's kind of, um, you know, always want to dive with a buddy. So most of the time it's going to be kind of a social aspect where, yeah, you're not talking under the water, but when you come up, you know, you're still going to be able to talk about the fish you saw or whatever it is. So most of the time you're going to have two or three people diving with you. And so it's, it's pretty fun.

28:36 John Gordon Right, right. Yeah, it brings up a good point. Why we created the DU Nation series in the first place was the fact that we really wanted to show that what we do on the ground affects, you know, not only waterfowl, but a lot of other species of wildlife and helps people as well. And then just, you know, Like you said, you can only, you know, you can only hunt birds 60 days a year right here. Well, out in the out West, I don't know where they got like 110. Yeah, that didn't count. You know, down here we got 60. So, you know, so if you live the outdoors lifestyle, you end up doing all kinds of other things, fishing and camping, hiking, spearfishing, you know, fly fishing. I mean, it's just, it's really the DU Nation is about the outdoor experience. So we're really trying to showcase that. And I think this is really cool. Uh, you know, something that a lot of folks don't even think about this, you know, they, they've seen spearfishing in saltwater, but they haven't seen it in fresh.

29:29 Austin Brown Yeah. Arkansas. I want to say, I mean, don't hold me to it, but I think Utah may be one of the only other states like actual like sport fish that you can actually shoot. So a lot of people are always surprised when I, when I. mentioned that we're shooting different things like walleye and catfish and stuff like that, but it is legal here in Arkansas. And I think, and since we've been here, we've seen multiple other people out here spearfishing. It hadn't been too crowded, which we're thankful for, but it's still, you're getting people in the outdoors and obviously the game of fish has set these legal parameters. And so, I mean, that's just one more way to get outside and have fun.

30:03 John Gordon Exactly, exactly. And, and, and once again, it needs to be stated that there's a season for this. You can't just roll out at any time of year and, and spearfish, you, you've got a certain parameters. Like this was, it was June 15th, Friday's opening day. But, and then once again, you can't shoot flathead catfish. You got to wait another month, July 15th for flatheads, right?

30:21 Austin Brown Yes. And so I think ever, ever since I've been doing it, June 15th has been our big day. You know, we're just like opening day of duck season. We're counting on that, uh, calendar that day, man. Cause that's, that's when you want to be out here. And obviously, just like anything else, if you can catch a weekday, there's going to be less people wakeboard and stuff like that, which is going to help visibility. But flatheads here in Arkansas, you got to wait until July 15th. And I saw a couple, like I mentioned to you when I was down there, that we didn't shoot. You know, you can see them. They're obviously, once you're down there over and over, you can just get more fish. Fish identification has been huge for me, just the different types of fish that I've learned since I started diving and stuff. You know, being an old school, just, I was pretty much catching at least large mouth, you know, maybe small mouth here and there. And then now just, Uh, walleye, just the different stripers, hybrids, white bass. I mean, just all that different. I mean, you were talking about a lot of people don't even know that they have a lot of lakes here in Arkansas. So that's been pretty cool for me.

31:12 John Gordon Very diverse. Uh, yeah, you know, you know, you don't have to go far, you know, I'm a Mississippi native and live in Mississippi. There's no walleye in Mississippi. That's it. And it's not that far away. We're four hours away really from, you know, being right there in the Mississippi Delta. And, um, that's something that they have here in these clear lakes in Arkansas that we don't have over there.

31:30 Austin Brown best eating too, as you can tell when we fried all those fish up last night, that you wanted to try to get a piece of that walleye.

31:36 John Gordon That's where it's at. That's it. Well, that striper did provide a lot of meat though, that I remember. He was, you know, he provided a lot of sustenance, folks, you know. Man, yeah. Great experience, folks. I mean, this is, like I said, DU Nation has really taken us to a lot of different places and a lot of different experiences. This one was really unique and something we're going to definitely have to come back and explore again, Austin. So thanks, man, so much for hosting us on this deal and thanks for being part of the DU Podcast.

32:04 Austin Brown I've always been a fan of Arkansas. I've been trying to get you over here. I always call it the promised land.

32:08 John Gordon Oh, I know. We've been enough places to duck hunt together and be like, man, we need to be down here in Arkansas, man. I'm like, yeah, I know.

32:15 Austin Brown I know. I really do love the state of Arkansas. The Spearfish is one more way to keep me here for the full year. So yeah, I'm glad y'all got to come and see it. And the scenery, like we mentioned, just getting out here and being able to driving out on that lake and see the sunrise, sunset, you can't beat it.

32:32 John Gordon Just getting out on that lake is worth coming here. I mean, it really is. Washtenaw's a beautiful place. And I mean, it really is. I mean, we saw a lot of folks, families here, you know, I'm sure, you know, over the weekend, it'll be really jumping.

32:44 Austin Brown Yeah, it'll start getting more and more packed as the weekend goes on. And then, you know, maybe next year you'll have to get that diving certification gets you down there and gets you hooked.

32:54 John Gordon Although I, you know, the bigger fish, you know, are on rod and reel. I don't know. That's all I'm saying. But, uh, anyway, folks, Hey, once again, thanks again for tuning into the Ducks Unlimited podcast. And thank you so much for supporting the Ducks Unlimited mission of wetlands and waterfowl conservation.

Creators and Guests

John Gordon
Ducks Unlimited Podcast & DU Nation Host
Ep. 511 – Inside DU TV with Videographer Austin Brown