Thursday, June 21, 2012

You think your passionate?

Dave Rogers and his awsome Lab "Sally"

I'm a self professed "spaz" for everything outdoors.  Everyone I know gives me a hard time about my love of the outdoors, especially fishing and hunting.  Its ALWAYS been that way for me.  Back when I was a kid, I remember my mom and dad telling me "there's more to life than just hunting and fishing you know!"  Ya, I know that.  The Lord, family, work, eattin', sleepin' (a little), showerin' (even less)... I got all that.  And I think I balance it all pretty well. Mostly.

This week I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting a man whose passion for the outdoors, especially waterfowl hunting, puts all others I've ever known or even heard about to shame!  Dave Rogers and his farm near Brownsville, Oregon is in a word - AMAZING!

Dave owns and operates River Refuge Seed Company Situated on about 500 acres in the mid-Willamette valley, the farm has been painstakingly designed and developed into a Mecca for waterfowl.  Dave has built approximately 75 ponds and lakes in various sizes that draws tens of thousands of migrating waterfowl to the property for rest and feed every winter. 

Dave and a small group of friends and family hunt the property during the duck and goose season, one day a week.  The rest of the time, migrating waterfowl are left alone to rest up and get fat on a huge assortment (read smorgasbord) of native and introduced marsh grasses and crops.  Ducks and Geese have a preference for high protein feed and Dave provides it in abundance.  Wild Rice, Wild Millet, Buckwheat, Sudangrass, Smartweed, Short Corn and approximately nine other varieties of marsh grasses, tubers and aquatic plants adorn the pages of his "Seed for Native and Introduced Plants That Attract Waterfowl and Upland Birds" Catalog.  

I had the privilege of spending a couple hours with Dave and his Lab "Sally" as he gave me a tour of his remarkable farm this week.  His knowledge and understanding of wildlife and plants is unmatched in my experience.  His entire life has been spent enjoying the outdoors and along the way, this intelligent, hard-working visionary has created something that few of us could even dream of. 

Photo courtesy of River Refuge Seed.

Dave explains with a chuckle, that he "created my own flyway".  When he bought the farm in the early 80's he had a dream of creating a perfect duck hunting spot for family friends.  While the farm is geographically in a great location, the ground itself wasn't very well suited to the needs of the migrating birds.  Dave changed all that.  Over the past 32 years his dream has been fulfilled.  From the top of the knoll above his barns, he looks out across the valley where we can have a birds-eye view of his vision.  Its breathtaking.  I can't hardly conceive of the effort all this took.

Dave's farm produces seed crops that he harvests and makes available to State and Federal Waterfowl Refuges everywhere ducks and geese fly.  Dave's other customers include folks who want to accurately recover grass and marsh lands with native plants and flowers as well as others fortunate enough to have their own marshes and duck hunting areas.   Recently Dave sent his seed to the eastern shore at Chesapeake Bay and swamps in Louisiana.

I left Dave and "Sally" with $75.00 worth of Sudangrass and Wild Millet seed that my wife and I will put in the ground in the coming days for my duck shoot.   I also left with a ton of knowledge that was so generously provided by Dave from his "Professorial" and encyclopedic knowledge of duck and goose habits and behaviors, stewardship of marsh land and how man can positively improve ground that was once used for agriculture and farming.  I also left with the sense that I have a new found friend and a man who sets the bar for those of us who consider ourselves "passionate" about the outdoors.  I'm looking forward to one day sharing time in one of my boats or in a duck blind at first light with Dave and "Sally".