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Old 10-16-2012, 12:31 AM   #1
eriecutemoutfitter
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Alberta Day 1

Could hardly take the anticipation of the 700 miles I'd be driving after work as I sat patiently at work avoiding line of sight tasking's like the plague until the clock struck 12:00pm and I could take the remainder of the day as a "flex day". As 12:00pm came and I carefully approached my boss's office, I read his every expression as I approached the threshold of his office and he had made it clear that what I was about to ask was already approved, see I had been telling him about my trip for sometime now and he was well aware that the time had come. I have been researching this trip and preparing for over a year now and nothing was going to stand in the way of me and 4 cases of shells, two shotguns and the hopes of shooting at lots of birds.
Me "...sssssssssoooooooooo I got those TPS reports done like you asked, no problems and was kinda thinking, maybe if you didn't need me here so much for the afternoon, I might just take a "flex day" and get on the road to Canada a little earlier?"
Boss "We don't do TPS reports and I'm surprised you are even still here".

That was all the reassurance I needed to have to ensure the hounds wouldn't come looking for me a hour after I departed. Most of the morning I kept replaying the strategic dance I performed while packing the trailer, making sure everything had it's place and nothing was left behind...air compressor-check, tool box-check, layout blinds-check, passport-check, boat/decoys/dog/dog food/clothing/guns/gun paperwork/ect-check check check check..... I grabbed my phone as I departed the office and see that the wife has texted me and called to remind me that I forgot to take her sunglasses out of the truck and I was to meet her before I left for Canada as those where the only sunglasses on the face of the earth that could possibly block the sun from her eyes : The idea of fulfilling a lifelong dream hunt in Canada kept my spirits strong and my anxiety for random sunglass exchanges at a all time low.

After kissing the baby and wife one last time in the mall parking lot and checking on the dog, it was finally just Daisy and I on the open road to south central Alberta where I had made arrangements to meet up with Daniel a native of Alberta and a heck of a good guy.

A little background on what I have done to prepare myself for the trip. Since my return from my deployment in November of 2011, I have been researching where to go and what to expect via the internet. Because I knew I wanted to go to Alberta for ease of driving it was just a matter of narrowing down what part of Alberta to go to. The province of Alberta is roughly the size of Texas and has the population of Rhode Island so picking one town in a land so vast wasn't going to be a easy task. The first thing I did was printed a picture of the province and did a internet search for every duck and goose outfitter in the province. I would cross reference the locations of those outfitters with my map and indicate a small dot on the map showing there was a source of ducks and geese in there area.
Realizing that outfitters will normally be located in areas that have ease of access to a from there business, (airports, major metropolitan areas ect.) I knew the next step was scouring the forums for tid bits of information.
I spent countless hours scouring the internet reading about every outfitter imaginable before it came time to use the "search" feature on multiple hunting forums to narrow the search further. Reading hundreds of threads, downloading every picture ever posted from Canada and running it through a program that exploits Exif data I now have a great idea of where to start my journey north. The only thing left was purchasing landowner maps and acquiring phonebooks for the areas in Alberta I wanted to target. A quick $500.00 from http://www.maptown.com/albertacounties.html to acquire landowner maps and have them laminated before I got to Alberta and I was starting to feel confident that time wouldn't be wasted on tracking down county offices for these priceless tools. The phone book turned out to be the biggest hassle of them all as Telus is there main phonebook company in the province and trying to reach someone with the authority to send one to me in Washington proved taxing and EXPENSIVE . I decided that I'd up my cell phone plan to include data and use whitepages.ca and cross reference the plat maps with my cell phone to retrieve landowner address's and phone numbers. (more on this later).

With the clock approaching 3pm and I-90 not in sight I knew the weekend was fastly approaching based upon the amount of traffic building on I5.

Once Daisy and I made it to I90, I was relieved by the fact that I had again escaped traffic and was making for a early entry into Canada but not before I coordinated to meet up with Tool-Man and Vikingfan to borrow their 12 dozen snow goose decoys and their bird hitch.

If you haven't picked up on it yet, I'm doing the first portion of this trip (9 days) by myself as my dad couldn't orchestrate a passport in time to fly out from Calgary half way through the trip and all the others I had asked last minute had prior commitments. ops: : As much as the company, conversation and financial burden would have been nice to split, I'm greatly appreciative of my alone time and there was no better place to spend it than in the countryside of Alberta Canada!

DAY 2

Armed with $800 Canadian and $300 American dollars in cash and with strict orders not to use the debit card I knew that making my buck go far on this trip was paramount. Planning ahead I had already purchased my WIN card, 6-day Waterfowl Tag, and wildlife certificate but the one thing that I still needed to buy was my Federal Migratory bird stamp, Canada's version of the one we can buy at the same place that sell hunting license. The wife had packed the ice chest full of pepsi's and cold cut meats so that I didn't have the option to eat out and man was I happy she did. Armed with all the essentials and a few survivor cans of tuna, chicken noodle soup and some type of beef medially I knew that surviving a week on what was already in the truck was possible. While I continued the drive east bound I made contact with Tool-Man to see what their location was. Tool-Man and his crew of elite goose hunting veterans, think of a elite fighting force of 4 men with hall passes at college homecoming, have been making this homage north for some time now and being able to pick his experienced brain for the week prior helped to ease the anticipation that Canada still had birds and that seeing them would be no problem. Aside from his wealth of experience, Tool-Man and crew also offered up a portion of their snow goose decoys and man was that a blessing!! (more on this later) and their bird hitch. Thinking to myself on the drive along I90 through Spokane and into Idaho it dawned on me that I have never cleaned a bird and had to leave the wing on it. Still not overly convinced that Canada would offer me any shooting, I ignored the idea of keeping a wing as if I needed to I would do a experimental surgery to teach myself how to clean the bird with the wing on or worse case I would unhook the trailer and attach the bird hitch. After all, Tool-Man and his crew assured me it was the easiest way they had cleaned 4 birds the whole trip .

After pinpointing a general area of where we would make the exchange of decoys and bird hitch, it became apparent as I approached the rendezvous that neither my cell phone or IPad had any type of service. Knowing that Tool-Man uses the same network I do, it was a recipe for no snow goose decoys and bird hitch as both rigs circumnavigated the winding back bending roads of Idaho as I approached the border and they continued back home to their wives and children. As I approached the top of this hill it stuck out to me that the skunk I smelled on the road was the first road kill I had acknowledged since departing from the west side. As I continued on up the road using what little oxygen was left in my lungs from the balloon sized breath of air I took to combat the skunk smell, my phone rang. "TOOL-Man" is calling...."Tool-Man" is calling..."Tool-ma"......
Me: "hello"?
Tool Man: "how'd that skunk smell?"
Me: "what?"
Tool Man: "that skunk you just passed, how did it smell?"

Ah now it made sense! While holding my breath I must have momentarily blacked out at which point Tool-Man and the hall pass crew drove by me. After flipping around, no easy task backing a trailer up a logging road in the pitch black alone, I was greeted by the fighting force of 4 where we discussed the border crossing and exchanged decoys. No sooner did we exchange decoys when a US Border Patrol Tahoe pulled up at a screeching stop. Acknowledging that this elite fighting squad of 4 was suffering from a mild form of PTCD, post traumatic canada disorder, I knew I needed to act fast for the fight that may ensue could be ugly. After reassuring the agent that we were merely exchanging decoys and that we would be on our way momentarily he wished us all a due and drove off. Crisis averted.

.....day 2 to be continued until tonight.
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Old 10-16-2012, 12:52 AM   #2
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Drive safe, shoot straight and have fun!!!!
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Old 10-16-2012, 12:58 AM   #3
eriecutemoutfitter
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Wade,

Already back home from the best 14 days ever!!!! Just now gathering my thoughts and trying to capture the memories by journaling.
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:06 AM   #4
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That's awesome. I'll be up there next year for sure! Can't wait to read more!
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Old 10-16-2012, 07:49 AM   #5
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Great to see you made the trip.
We just returned from our annual trip on the 7th. I think your timing was perfect, as we left just as the mild weather was changing and some fronts were moving in.The hunting this year was a little slower than last, but In Alberta a slow day is probably better than most good days here.
One thing I think you will find in Alberta, is that the landowners, for the most part, are very welcoming and it's fairly easy to gain permission to hunt.
On our trip, I ended up putting over 2000 miles on the truck and about 44 hours of driving time in.
I couldn't imagine doing that by myself.
Where did you end up?

Looking forward to your posts.

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Old 10-16-2012, 08:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Wade Finley View Post
That's awesome. I'll be up there next year for sure! Can't wait to read more!
Wade if you need one more guy for your trip let me know.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:52 AM   #7
eriecutemoutfitter
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Originally Posted by birdhunter007 View Post
Great to see you made the trip.
We just returned from our annual trip on the 7th. I think your timing was perfect, as we left just as the mild weather was changing and some fronts were moving in.The hunting this year was a little slower than last, but In Alberta a slow day is probably better than most good days here.
One thing I think you will find in Alberta, is that the landowners, for the most part, are very welcoming and it's fairly easy to gain permission to hunt.
On our trip, I ended up putting over 2000 miles on the truck and about 44 hours of driving time in.
I couldn't imagine doing that by myself.
Where did you end up?

Looking forward to your posts.
3762.7 miles, 257.3 gallons of gas used with a average of 14.6 on the ecoboost. Very expensive doing it by myself but I wouldn't have changed it for the world. Met the nicest people in the world up there and plan on continuing this homage north each year...more to come tonight when I get done journaling.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:55 AM   #8
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3762.7 miles, 257.3 gallons of gas used with a average of 14.6 on the ecoboost. Very expensive doing it by myself but I wouldn't have changed it for the world. Met the nicest people in the world up there and plan on continuing this homage north each year...more to come tonight when I get done journaling.
Good luck and be safe.
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:08 AM   #9
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Awesome! Looking forward to the rest of the journaling!
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eriecutemoutfitter View Post
3762.7 miles, 257.3 gallons of gas used with a average of 14.6 on the ecoboost. Very expensive doing it by myself but I wouldn't have changed it for the world. Met the nicest people in the world up there and plan on continuing this homage north each year...more to come tonight when I get done journaling.
Wow, and I thought we put on the miles! We didn't have to do as much scouting this year as we already had hunting property secured.
Only 971 Liters of fuel... ehhh?
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:42 AM   #11
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Updated
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Old 10-16-2012, 11:27 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by eriecutemoutfitter View Post

Me: "hello"?
Tool Man: "how'd that skunk smell?"
Me: "what?"
Tool Man: "that skunk you just passed, how did it smell?"

Good thing I seen ya
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Old 10-16-2012, 12:34 PM   #13
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Red face

Quote:
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Wow, and I thought we put on the miles! We didn't have to do as much scouting this year as we already had hunting property secured.
Only 971 Liters of fuel... ehhh?
Part of the trip (first week) was about me seeing as much as the countryside as possible. The birds I shot first week were a bonus. But yes I put a lot of miles on the truck. "Simply driving oout and aboout, ehh".
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:52 PM   #14
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As I continued my venture northbound to the border I started getting nervous about the high fuel prices in Canada so every little town I came through as I approached the border I stopped and topped off the tank. On some instances it was only a 10-15 miles between fill ups so getting ahead of the scheduled timeline was merely a fart in the wind. When I finally hit the border it was approaching 1am. Being so dark and processing such a small border crossing I was uneasy about where to go and where to park the vehicle. Should I pull the truck and trailer through the scale? Should I carry my weapons inside, cased, to process the country? Do I need to take them to the US side first and then over to the Canadian side? YES! All of those questions were answered when I decided I better park the car and go inside and ask. Other than driving to Windsor CA when I was a minor to drink in the casinos, I've actually never drove across the border before and doing so with multiple guns, ammo and alcohol certainly wasn't going to make it easier. As I approached the US side of customs the office was very dark and I was certain that the place was locked up for the night and having researched the crossing prior knowing it said it was a 24hour crossing, had me pondering whether or not I had gotten lost on my way.

Pulled on the door and sure enough it was open, proceeded inside where two agents emerged from behind a cubicle wall and proceeded to look at my documents and ask me a series of 5-10 questions in a different context every other question. After talking with me for 5-7 minutes, he followed me out to my trailer where I had both firearms and he verified the serial numbers, confirmed they were not stolen and signed my paperwork. After taking care of the US side I got back in the truck and drove through the xray machine with the trailer and truck, stopped at the window where the Canadian border agent made small talk for a minute. He asked me the general questions and asked if the dog had all of her shots and a certificate of health. I had it prepared to give to him but he trusted my answer and told me to hang onto it. Asked me about how much alcohol I had in the trailer and whether or not I had gifts for anyone. He never asked about how much ammo I was bringing across as I was prepared to pay the duty to take 4 cases, the limit is 200 shells per person, but he never asked and I didn't bring it up. I parked the car and went inside with my weapon paperwork where I had to pay the $25.00 Canadian and he signed the paperwork. As a quick side note, be sure that you have the proper currency when paying this fee, he and the other Canadian agents all made comments on how typical it is of Americans to bring there paperwork in only to try and pay the fee in USD : They aren't a bank and will turn you away and leave a bad impression for sportsman trying to enter the country with weapons.

All said and done it probably took me near 30-40minutes to finish everything and I was back on my way. During my research and preperation there was one thing I failed to look at.....Moonphase :fingerhead: Whether moon phase plays a important role in how waterfowl act it most certainly does when discussing the moving of the larger critters. I can't even begin to estimate how many deer i saw along the road during the night as I continued the voyage towards my first stop in south central Alberta. Next year I'm moving my dates back a week to facilitate a better moon phase and hopes of colder weather up north but more on that later.

I drove through the night until I got about 30minutes west of the town I had planned on meeting Daniel Saturday morning for a Saturday afternoon hunt. I found a nice truck pull off on a bluff overlooking what looked like a river in the moon light. I listened for waterfowl after turning the truck off but couldn't hear anything as the wind blew across the rolling grain fields.

....to be continued.
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:19 AM   #15
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great stuff, been looking forward to every update
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:15 PM   #16
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After sleeping for 3 hours in the truck along side the highway, I awoke as the sun started to peak through the windshield. Knowing that I was likely still 30-45 minutes from a descent spot to unhook the trailer and leave it for a better portion of the day so I could scout a area that Daniel told me about, I knew that I needed to get up and moving. After doing a quick "pre-flight" on the truck and trailer, I once again merged into traffic and set the cruise at 60mph/100kph. Cruising into town I was able to find a hotel that looked secure enough that I could park the trailer for the morning/early afternoon so I could save on gas while scouting. I unhooked the trailer, secured it with the chains and bolt lock and away I went. Despite only running on three hours of "ok" sleep, I was actually feeling fairly alert at I continued through town and headed south to a place where Daniel told me to look for birds.

Although Daniel and I had not met yet or even talked on the phone, we did share 20-30 PMs and countless text messages on the weeks prior to the trip. Daniel and I met on another hunting forum where he was discussing hunting in the states and the leasing of land. Daniel a 28 year old mildly built city worker with a very thick Canadian accent told me where to start scouting so that's exactly where I headed. After driving about 40mins to where he told me there would be birds, I found a field and a major roosting area. I called Daniel excited, thinking that I had done us a huge solid for our Saturday afternoon hunt and he told me that the birds I was looking at in the field where not that good and I'd likely find something better so keep driving. "Not that good", are you kidding me there was a mixture of 500+ honkers/specks using this field and it looked like a damn good field to me : While I'll admit I'm more accostomed to chasing the small central flyway cacklers and lessors where it's not unheard of to see 5K-10K using a wheat field, I figured 500 big 10lb honkers was a damn good field, or so I thought. :biggrin: I continued driving and much like the Tool_Man had told me when we exchanged decoys, I too saw about 20-30 ducks on EVERY small 1 acre pothole. If there's one thing about Canada that they aren't lacking it's the 1-2 acre potholes that I've read about in Ducks Unlimited magazine for years.

It seemed like everyone of them that I drove by for the two week period I was there for had 20-30 ducks on them. Others being used as transition sloughs like we hunted the last day of the trip were being used by 5K-8K birds. : :thumbsup: Close your eyes and imagine 5K dabblers using a 1-2 acre, shin deep mud hole, that's what Canada is all about.

After continuing my quest to find the mother load of geese I thought it was best if I ran to town and buy my Federal stamp and pick up the trailer before Daniel phoned and said to meet expecting me to have the trailer with me. Well just as luck would have it, on my way back to town I passed a pea field on a dead end road that had a LOT more birds on it!! Called Daniel excited again and after giving him a talk on to the field he laughed and said that he had just talked to the landowner last night about hunting it. : So now I'm the non resident that is 0-2 on fields and not really feeling like I've contributed a whole lot to Saturday's hunt. :fingerhead: After getting to town, purchasing my license Daniel called and informed me that we needed to start setting up around 2:30 so that we didn't get busted on the first few flights of the afternoon.

.....until tomorrow.
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Old 10-20-2012, 06:54 AM   #17
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What happened to the updates?
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Old 10-20-2012, 10:49 AM   #18
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great thread! Keep em coming!
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:21 PM   #19
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Thanks for the few of you that posted up here and to the others that sent me PMs. It's tough to sit here and type about Canada as my PTCD (Post Traumatic Canada Disorder) has been really bad the last few days.

I hunted with Daniel his friend James and James father the first afternoon in a Hutterite pea field. I had no idea even what a Hutterite colony was before going to Alberta but after having spent two weeks there it will be on the list of things to locate as soon as I get to wherever I go in the future. GREAT PEOPLE!!!! Daniel had permission for this field from a week ago so it was merely a decision of when to show up and set up. We had a decent hunt for my first day but there where a few things that I would've changed had it been my field, but because it wasn't I simply listened to what James and Daniel wanted to do for the setup. James has a dog named Hank and him and Daisy really got along nicely in the blind but at first I couldn't decide whether or not his dog's name was "kennel" or if it was "hank". The first full day I was in Alberta and as a result of scouting and then hunting that afternoon/evening, I had no place to stay. Like I stated earlier, I was determined to do the trip on the cheap as being by myself for the first week was going to be expensive due to gas but nonetheless, I figured at worse I could drive into town and sleep in the trailer. As luck would have it, James asked/told me I would be staying at his house for the night because I hadn't made arrangements yet for a campsite. I can't stress to you all how nice Canadians are, I can't say that if I showed up at Potholes and met others to hunt and had no where to stay if they would invite me in.

After being on the road, scouting and then hunting I was in need of a bad shower and a real bed and having James take me in will never be forgotten. Sheer bonus that his wife had a late dinner prepared for us as soon as we got home. We enjoyed a few whiskey and ginger ale's and talked about politics, hunting and the economy and it was off to bed as 430am was going to come quick for our morning duck hunt.

When the alarm went off on my phone it was as if I had blinked my eyes and I hadn't slept at all. Tired was a understatement as I readied my clothes, snuck outside to feed Daisy and started the truck to warm up. Thankfully, I knew on our way out of town we would pass by at least 429 Tim Hortons so getting a coffee and bite to eat wasn't going to be a issue. If there are a few things that Alberta doesn't lack on it's golf courses, Tim Hortons and A&W's. As hoped, James pulled into the second Tim Hortons and we piled out from the trucks and headed in for a coffee with extra sugar and some type of breakfast sandwich that had a mystery meat, was like some type of bologna-meatloaf hybrid..or so I hope. We made right with the cashier and back on the road we went. We ended up getting to the little slough a bit after I would've liked but because it was the second hunt of the season for me, I would've likely been there at 230 am fine tuning decoys and straightening the blinds to ensure my OCD was tamed. We set up the decoys and where preparing the blinds when James dad said that he was just going to sit in the cattails this morning as he isn't as fast out of the layouts as us and it was more comfortable for him to sit in the cattails. I wasn't going to argue as again I was their guest and was just more pumped to be out hunting again that shooting hordes of birds wasn't as important. One thing that I noted on the first two hunts with James, Daniel and his dad is that concealment is of last importance to them. Whether that is the bi product of the gear being so expensive up there or the birds just being that uneducated I'll never know but I can assure you wearing a bi colored, camo in the front and hunter orange in the back Jimmy Johnson hat, will flare birds everyday....fact!

Daisy and Hank



We hunted for the first couple hours of the day and shot a fair number of birds and then I decided that I needed to wrap it up and look for a spot to stay for a few days so as to not impose on James and his family. I noticed a place up the road about 3 miles the day before when I was scouting so I intended to go back and see what it was like and if it was even still open. Stopped in and sure enough they were still allowing tent camping and they had vacancy, actually I was the only one there aside from the lovely lady I met when I dropped my money in the check station. I set up camp Sunday afternoon and then just relaxed, game planning my next few moves for the week. James had told me to drive north to check out a few other area's, which also correlated with what I had scouted on the internet so I decided to do that on Monday. Wednesday there was a cold front coming through so I wanted to make sure I had a real good field on Wednesday as I just knew there was going to be a push of new birds.

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Old 10-25-2012, 07:53 AM   #20
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More, more, more...
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