Duck Hunting with the Cleveland Browns

Jim McConville doesn't work ducks he works for ducks.

On a crisp September morning, McConville, the National Sales Manager for WILDFOWL, sped down the Lake St. Clair shoreline on an ATV, racing for a coveted public spot to set up the decoy spread and lure in some birds.

With the water down more than two feet from normal levels, the former Ohio State linebacker splish-splashed his way through the sandy bottoms of St. Clair. At last, he arrived and breathed a sigh of relief there was no one else in sight.

"I hung a couple of flashlights on pieces of driftwood to let other hunters know we were out there, and on this most desirable peninsula of grass that was 400 to 500 yards offshore," McConville said. "This is light your hair on fire (public hunting) he who sits on the couch, owns the couch. I knew that was the spot I wanted to get to."


It was vital to the hunt that he did so, as Joe Thomas, Alex Mack and Colt McCoy of the Cleveland Browns wouldn't be far behind. The two Pro Bowl lineman and backup quarterback were just 48 hours removed from a tough loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and with the weekend free after a Thursday night game, they were ready to pile up the ducks.


The three pros would soon be transposed from the gridiron to the shallows of St. Clair, calling in mallards, teal, pintails, and bluebills with the EZ Debutante by Knight & Hale and shooting Federal Black Cloud over Hard Core decoys and Mojo spinners.

"I was really impressed by the number of ducks we shot and the amount of fish we caught," Thomas said.

"During the season, it's all business, and anytime I have the chance to get away from football, just for a little bit...it's worth it."

Not long after the boys settled in and shooting light came, a couple mallards dipped into the massive spread McConville had laid out in the morning darkness. Guns roared and a single bird fell from the sky. The other two birds sailed, the first of which fell 150 yards away. The second was even further out. Taking it upon himself to act as Lab retriever, Josh Brown, son of MKS Supply owner Charlie Brown, went to finish off the cripples.


"By the time I got back, my waders were so full of water it felt like I was carrying an extra 25 pounds," Josh said. "I didn't realize how far I had gone out there. I was caught up in fetching the bird."

He grabbed the first mallard, but the other had been lung-shot and continued to dive. By the time he finally reached the still-alive greenhead, the high school senior found himself about 11 football fields away from the group.

"He kept sloshing through and kept on going, and we were like 'my god, the kid's going to walk back to Ohio,'" Charlie said. "It got to the point where I started worrying about him stepping in a hole. But it was a fairly hard bottom up there even though the water was down a bit."


[nggallery id=18]

The morning ended with a good amount of birds on the strap, not a limit, but enough to satisfy any public-land hunter. The boys finished off the two days in Ontario with 25 birds, though the highlight of the trip (other than Josh's long retrieve) was the 40 small-mouth bass Thomas, Mack and McCoy caught the first afternoon.

"I'll be honest with you," McConville said. "To go somewhere and shoot 25 ducks and catch 40 bass in a day-and-a-half that's pretty incredible.

"That's 'Wizard of Oz,' jumping behind the curtain and pulling some major levers to make that happen. I can't take credit for it though. I was just the spark, but those guys were the actual flame, and they made it happen."

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Swedish Duck Hunt

Swedish Duck Hunt

Kevin Steele takes part in a family driven duck hunt in Sweden.

Picking a Puppy

Picking a Puppy

Wildfowl contributor Mark Romanack shares advice about choosing your next retriever.

Women

Women's Waterfowl Lineup

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the company's full line-up of women's waterfowl hunting gear for 2019. From warm and moisture-wicking base layers to water and windproof outer layers, this is a complete system for women who love to chase fall and wintertime ducks and geese across the four flyways!

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

While there's no guarantee they'll make you a better shot, these 8 newly-designed shotgun choke Accessories

8 Best Choke Tubes for 2017

Wildfowl Online Staff - October 25, 2017

While there's no guarantee they'll make you a better shot, these 8 newly-designed shotgun...

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call. Calls

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during...

Author John M. Taylor has broken down the top waterfowl shotguns for the 2018 season. Shotguns

Best Waterfowl Shotguns of 2018

John Taylor - September 25, 2018

Author John M. Taylor has broken down the top waterfowl shotguns for the 2018 season.

Check out our picks for the best new waterfowl guns from the 2019 SHOT Show! Shotguns

Best New Waterfowl Shotguns for 2019

Lynn Burkhead - January 23, 2019

Check out our picks for the best new waterfowl guns from the 2019 SHOT Show!

See More Trending Articles

More North America

If you're considering a guided waterfowl hunt, consider these affordable options! North America

9 Affordable Waterfowl Hunts

Wildfowl Online Staff

If you're considering a guided waterfowl hunt, consider these affordable options!

For a true southern green-tree experience, head down the L'Anguille River, Arkansas, and hunt with a legend. Stories

Old Man River: Duck Hunting the Arkansas Timber

Skip Knowles

For a true southern green-tree experience, head down the L'Anguille River, Arkansas, and hunt...

Here are five top locations for killing a pile of snows this spring. Conservation

2020 Snow Goose Forecast

Mark Chestnut - December 27, 2019

Here are five top locations for killing a pile of snows this spring.

 On the short list of must-hunt destinations in the world of waterfowling, Manitoba holds a secure North America

Manitoba: A Waterfowl Mecca

Brad Fenson - February 12, 2018

On the short list of must-hunt destinations in the world of waterfowling, Manitoba holds a...

See More North America

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.