If you aspire to complete the North American Waterfowl Slam, plan on a lot of travel. Beyond that, here are a few helpful tips from Mike Bard, the slam man himself. Read the full story behind Bard’s slam here.
Case Study: Rip the foam out of your hard-shell gun case. Line the bottom with a full day’s worth of clothing, then set in your gun, binoculars, and other fragile items on top. Next, line the top of the case with a set of outerwear, ensuring it’s all packed snug. Airlines tend to delay regular luggage, but firearms are flagged as “must fly,” so you have a better chance that your gun case will arrive without issue.
Social Network: Many of Bard’s ducks and geese came through a loose network of waterfowlers, who trade advice, hunts, and even gear online, all in pursuit of knocking a few more birds off the list. You can do this, too: Build a network of other hunters, offer to take them out to your spots, and opportunities will happen. Well-traveled hunters are the best guys to ask for recommendations on outfitters in places like Alaska where you have to hire a guide.
Trophy Luggage: When Bard shoots one for the wall, he dabs away any blood and mud with a cotton rag, then double-bags the bird in two 1-gallon Ziploc bags, which he carries into the field. Bard’s taxidermist, Tim Schloss (timschlosstaxidermy.com), says to forget storing birds in panty hose, which can twist feathers, or wrapping them in newspaper, which draws away moisture. As soon as possible, get the bird into a freezer. Bard travels with his frozen birds as a carry-on in a soft-sided cooler.