JULY 15, 2024

Letter From the Editor

Howdy Hunting Wire!

It's time to submit nominations for our 2024-2025 Voice of Leadership Panel. We're looking for all levels of experience within our community, and from all aspects of it. If you know someone who is ready and willing to make a difference in our community, please email me at jay@theoutdoowire.com.

Do we have any lever-action rifle fans out there? I wanted to share the latest addition to the Pinsky gun safe, a 1955 Winchester Model 71 chambered in 348 Winchester. If you have any good (or bad) 348 Winchester stories, let me know. After I do some load research, and find components, I plan to take the 348 Winchester after Nilgai, and maybe a few deer between now and then. That's the plan anyway - we shall see what life throws our way between now and then.

The countdown to October Aoudad with my father's tribute rifle has started. I'm looking forward to seeing world-class gunbuilder Mark Basner build the 257 Roberts.

Have a great summer everyone!

-- Jay

Ever find yourself daydreaming of waterfowl and wondering if they're thinking about you too? Haha, well chances are pretty good they aren't, but it does leave a person wondering, “what are they doing now?” Reports are starting to trickle in on the successes and struggles of this breeding and rearing season, so let's dive into what we know so far, and what we may be able to expect for this upcoming fall!

Mixed Results Across North America
The 2024 waterfowl breeding season has been a rollercoaster. In critical breeding areas like the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), which spans parts of the Dakotas, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, late-season rains in May and June were a game-changer. Droughts have been a large topic of concern for the waterfowl community in many areas that typically hold breeding and nesting habitats for many waterfowl species. However, timely precipitation in the PPR region has been crucial for renesting and brood rearing, giving a much-needed leg up for duck production. Thanks to our friends in organizations like California Waterfowl, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, and organizations alike, wetland restoration projects and wildlife reservations are strongholds for success for our feathered friends, despite an overall massive decline in these habitats over the years. (Delta Waterfowl, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

Population and Habitat Conditions
According to the 2023 Waterfowl Population Status report, the breeding duck population experienced a 7% decline from the previous year, with pond counts showing a 9% decrease. However, these late-spring rains have brought on a more optimistic outlook.. Key areas including southern Saskatchewan and the Dakotas have maintained sufficient water levels, which is vital for success stories, especially in duckling survival rates.

While some parts of the Canadian prairies have faced significant droughts, regions like Quebec and Ontario continue to have good-to-great conditions for breeding and rearing ducks. However, wildfires have become a huge concern in northern Canada, and they could potentially impact nesting habitats if they spread southward (Delta Waterfowl).

Atlantic Flyway
Conditions remain favorable throughout the eastern survey areas, supporting strong breeding populations of black ducks and eastern mallards (Delta Waterfowl).

Pacific Flyway
California continues to maintain excellent breeding conditions, a positive sign for resident mallard populations. Alaska's river deltas, especially the Yukon region, also show excellent conditions for pintails and other species (Delta Waterfowl).

Factors Affecting Production
A significant factor working in this year's duck production favor has been predation. A long harsh winter in the Dakotas and southern Manitoba reduced the populations of typical duck-nest predators like raccoons and skunks. The reduction in predation pressure is projected to positively impact the overall hatching success of ducks in these regions. (An Official Journal Of The NRA).

What Are They Up To?
During the summer, we know wild waterfowl are consumed with breeding, nesting, and raising their young. - Dabbling ducks, such as mallards and teal, prefer shallow wetlands, ponds, and marshes, whereas diving ducks like canvasbacks and redheads choose larger deeper water bodies with lots of aquatic vegetation.

After breeding, nesting, and the magic of hatching, hens will lead their ducklings to water almost immediately, where they can feed on invertebrates, insects, and aquatic plants. This period is critical and vulnerable as for ducklings to grow rapidly, they need a rich and plentiful diet to develop flight feathers and gain strength for flight.

Another significant summer activity for wildfowl is molting, the process of shedding and regrowing feathers. Molting usually occurs after the breeding season and during this time, they lose their flight feathers and become temporarily flightless for several weeks. Waterfowl need to seek out safe, secluded areas with ample food and protection from predators to survive this vulnerable stage.

As summer rolls along, waterfowl start preparing for the best time of year, the fall migration! Preparation for the journey involves building up fat reserves and practicing flight. Ducks and geese increase their food intake, focusing on grains, seeds, aquatic plants, and small invertebrates to accumulate the required energy for their long journeys. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, An Official Journal Of The NRA).

Migration Patterns

Early migrators like blue-winged teal and pintails often leave their breeding grounds as soon as late August, while late migrators like mallards and some Canada geese typically depart in November or December. Migration timing is another complex topic, with some birds leaving according to weather conditions, and some who we refer to as “calendar birds,” leaving as their built-in biological clock tells them it's time to fly.

Four Main Flyways
Waterfowl use traditional migratory routes known as flyways. The four main flyways in North America are:

  • Atlantic Flyway: Extends from eastern Canada down the East Coast to the Caribbean and South America. Key species include black ducks, Atlantic brant, and various species of diving ducks.

  • Mississippi Flyway: Runs from the Great Lakes through the Mississippi River Valley to the Gulf of Mexico. It is a vital route for mallards, wood ducks, and snow geese.

  • Central Flyway: Covers the central United States from Canada to Mexico. Species like pintails, redheads, and greater white-fronted geese are common travelers.

  • Pacific Flyway: Stretches along the West Coast from Alaska to Central America. Key species include northern pintails, wigeons, and Pacific brant

So, while the situation is complex, and mother nature always has the power to flip things on its hat when we least expect it, so far this upcoming hunting season is looking cautiously optimistic! Keep an eye on regional updates and prepare for a potentially great hunting season, especially in areas within the Prairie Pothole Region and other key breeding grounds.

Gear up, stay informed, and get ready for an exciting season. Let’s keep talkin’ and share our waterfowl passion! Email us @ Keeptalkin@tflproductions.com


By Jay Pinsky

Heavy guns are for bench rests, tree stands, and sherpas, not for upland hunters.

Franchi knows this and purpose-built their six-pound 20-gauge Affinity 3 Elite Upland to give all-day mobile bird hunters a firearm that works well, points better than some dogs, and doesn't beat the snot out of your shoulder.

Aside from endurance, there's a far more sporting reason to have or want an ultralight upland gun – they're faster. It's a lot faster.

Over the past upland season, my trusty bird dog, Allie Bama, and I took Franchi's firearm all over Virginia, chasing pheasants, quail, chukar, and the ordinary but tough-to-eat sporting clay. Not Allie nor Franchi ever let me down. I doubt either would say the same of me, but that's another story.

My first impression of the Affinity 3 Elite Upland was how thin and balanced it was. I'll never get mistaken for Bigfoot at a meager 5'6" height, so smaller firearms always work better for me. By smaller, I don't just mean shorter length of pull, either. How broad a gun is matters just as much, if not more, when handling. That's part of the allure of lever-action rifles – they're thinner and more accessible to carry because of it. The Affinity 3 Elite Upland is 48 inches long, thanks to a 26-inch barrel in the 20-gauge.

My first impression was the Elite Upland's balance, and my second was its uptown girl look. (A head nod to Billy Joel.) It's a pretty gun and a rare one in the upland market, with its GunMetal Gray Cerekote matched to A-Grade Satin Walnut furniture.

Still, the only thing a shotgun with good looks gets you is style. They hit or miss just as much as ugly guns, and missing with the Franchi might be worse because people tend to keep their eyes on the good-looking (guns) ones, so missing with one won't be a secret.
The shotgun handles 2 ¾ and 3-inch 20-gauge shells and comes with close, mid-range, and long-range ported choke tubes. The upland-specific chokes are super-easy to change out in the field when you need an excuse for missing birds – I mean to adjust the shotgun to the proper expected engagement distances for the birds you plan to hunt based on the field conditions and ammunition used. I mainly shot Federal Prairie Upland, but the Franchi had an easy taste palate to appease, with Fiocchi and Winchester loads cycling just fine. I shot (at) a lot more sporting clays than I did anything else, so I used a lot of different kinds of ammunition. I never had any failures to feed, fire, or eject, and that included 2 ¾ inch as well as full-powered 3-inch loads.

To be fair to Franchi and myself, the loaner gun was quite long on me. The standard length of pull for this shotgun is 14-3/8 inches. My preferred length of pull is 12 inches. If I owned this gun, I'd get it sized to fit me, and the gun would have reviewed better because it would have been faster, and I probably would have shot better. But that's a testimony to proper gun fit, which is obtainable with this gun (and most shotguns), not to its overall quality and functionality. Note that the Franchi comes with the Omni Stock adjustable fitting system, which allows you to adjust drop and cast. Doing either would have helped me a little, but LOP issues are complex. That's no knock on Franchi.

Some other engineering elegances of this shotgun include Franchi's well-established Inertia-Driven action, unique forcing cone design for more consistent patterning, recoil mitigation, and faster follow-up shots, Truglo Dual-Color Fiber Optic sights, oversized and textured bolt controls (so you can find them and use them with our without gloves), a removable trigger group assembly for easier cleaning, a beveled loading port which makes a lot more of a difference than I thought after extended use, and a very effective but proprietary TSA recoil pad (by proprietary I mean if I sized this shotgun to fit me, I'd lose this pad and have to use an aftermarket pad. Is this good? That's a personal thing, but it's a point worth making).

The folks at Franchi know upland hunting, which shows in their shotgun. The Affinity 3 Upland Elite is a gorgeous, reliable, upland-minded shotgun that will please anyone focused on killing birds in style. It will cost you $1349 MSRP.


Elevate your pursuit with LaCrosse Footwear’s new Ursa LS (Late Season) boot, available now in both an uninsulated version and one with 400g of Primaloft Gold insulation. 

Easton is proud to announce the launch of the July '24 "America Month" celebration.

The National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF) recently recognized Kenny Fort as Instructor of the Year at the International Hunter Education Association gathering. 

The world’s largest sportfishing trade show, International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST), is just days away and thousands of fishing industry folks are gearing up for lots of business and fun throughout the week of July 14 in Orlando, Fla.

Series Continues to Inspire Countless Bowhunters with Host, Curt Wells

Dryshod continues to expand its Evalusion-series with the all-new Evalusion All-Around outdoor shoe.

Outdoor Sportsman Group (OSG) is pleased to announce its continued dominance and growth on the linear networks, streaming with MyOutdoorTV and in its publishing arm, within the fishing enthusiast market in the United States.

Evolution Outdoor, a leading provider of high-quality outdoor gear, is excited to announce its participation in the 2024 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST). 

Pope and Young, a premier bowhunting conservation organization, is pleased to announce that Moultrie Mobile has shown their commitment to Preserving, Promoting and Protecting the sport of bowhunting by joining Pope and Young as a Platinum Level Corporate Partner.

Get ready for the fall archery season by tuning into Full Draw Fridays found exclusively on Sportsman Channel beginning at 8 p.m. ET every Friday night.

Shoot ON, the premiere source for firearms reviews, instruction, and DIY gun content, announces the launch of the Shoot ON“Long-Range Giveaway.”

Remington Ammunition will be hosting its 3rd Annual Shoot to Cure sporting clays fundraiser on September 20, 2024. 

Now available for the Glock 17 with or without red dot sight.

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