Straight out of college, Chad began owning and operating several of his own businesses, and eventually became a pro-staffer and champion caller. His time on the call circuit put Belding in front of some industry stalwarts, who continue to help shape his business. It also gave Chad the chance to talk with waterfowlers from all over the country, giving him a better understanding of the gear real hunters crave.
A consummate worker, Belding was driven to push his own waterfowl brand. Banded Productions began in 2008, and “Benelli’s The Fowl Life with Chad Belding,” his hit TV show, followed shortly after. More shows followed, namely “Dead Dog Walkin,’” focusing on predator hunting. By 2014, Banded Productions will be involved in seven different hunting shows. We are honored to interview him here on HuntingLife.com.
What calling instruction programs do you recommend for new callers?
When it comes to learning how to blow a duck or goose call, it is imperative for the caller to listen to live birds. He or she needs to listen for pitch, cadence, volume and various tones. After he or she has an idea of what real birds sound like in the wild, daily practice routines are a must. Start with the basic quack by acquiring hand position and back pressure on the call, then move into strings of greeter calls. Once the basic quack and greeting call is down, we like to incorporate sheet music for the caller to read and follow as if they were learning to play a saxophone or clarinet. This will help them build a foundation of hand control, tongue control, mouth cavity and larynx use, as well as how to use their diaphragm to get the hot, pressurized air needed to sound like ducks and geese. We offer several instructional series online via our YouTube Channel, as well as a DVD series called “The Goose Gospel.” Banded Calls will also be releasing more instruction online, as well as on the air on “Benelli’s The Fowl Life with Chad Belding” on Outdoor Channel.
What should new hunters look for when scouting new locations for waterfowl?
Scouting is the most important piece of the waterfowl puzzle. Whether it is the hunter’s local area or a new area in which he or she is traveling to, it is important to develop a network of local land owners and farmers who can help them attain permission for hunting locations. The hunter will need to look for bodies of open water where the birds are roosting or using as a day loaf. Then, with the use of binoculars, notepads and recording devices, they can watch the birds and follow them to their feeding areas. It is important to be very detailed about where the birds enter the fields or bodies of water, and where they choose to land. Then after the birds leave their feeding areas, the hunter (after attaining permission) can go in and strategize where their hide needs to be. Then they can go back to the lodge or hotel and put together a game plan for the next day’s hunt. All of these components mixed with paying attention to the weather report will help ensure a successful hunt.
In my opinion, the biggest mistake that waterfowl hunters make is not taking enough time to conceal themselves. The “hide” is very important once the hunt location is established. Wild animals have very strong vision and can pick apart something that is not natural. The hunter needs to have a small imprint on the land and disappear with the use of blinds, natural vegetation, shadows, etc. Staying still is imperative and once a hunter learns how to read the bird’s body language, they will learn to move at different times and get ready for the shot. Do not underestimate their sense of vision and give yourself ample time to create a great hide.
What’s one rookie mistake you’ve made hunting?
One rookie mistake I have made is overcalling. Duck and goose callers love to use their calls but it is imperative not to call too much. Call at the right times and at the right volumes. Ducks and geese can be blown out of the hole and probably will not allow for a second chance. Hit them on the corners and do the minimum in which it takes to keep them interested. I will probably make this mistake again because I love to call but discipline is key.
What’s the hardest lesson you have learned while hunting?
The hardest lesson I have encountered while hunting is learning how to make sure that incoming flocks don’t spot our faces or hands. Human skin is a beacon and it is very easy to pick out. We always step back, look at the hide and make sure that we are concealed. We use face paint or face masks, as well as gloves, if we are not inside a pit blind or box blind. It is the little things that will allow the hunter to finish birds at ten yards, making it easier to make clean, harvestable shots.
What one hunting skill that you most want to improve?
One hunting skill that I always want to improve is my calling. I want to sound exactly like ducks and geese. It is an ongoing learning experience that most hunters never master. The vocabulary of ducks and geese is so diverse and it takes a lot of time and practice to be able to produce it. I want to be a sponge and become as proficient as I possibly can with my calls. They are not the most important tool of the hunt but one that I would love to become more skilled in.
Who do you admire most in the hunting and conservation world and Why?
The person that I admire the most in the hunting and conservation world would be Bill Jordan. He stands for everything that I want to stand for. Following his career and the Realtree brand has taught me a lot — not only lessons, but what it means to be a part of the outdoors. How we are not entitled to it and we are blessed to be able to share it with our family and friends. I am humbled every day that I get to be part of nature, and when the animals we pursue cooperate and afford us opportunities to harvest them, that is just icing on the cake. Following Bill and Realtree has taught me to enjoy the little things like the dust in the rear view, the sunrises and sunsets, the dinners, the camp fires, introducing a young hunter to our great lifestyle, etc. I have had the chance to meet and talk with Bill and it was like standing next to my hero. I respect his business accomplishments as well as everything that he stands for.
How were you introduced to hunting?
My father had us in the outdoors before we were old enough to walk, let alone shoot. We followed him in the mountains of northern Nevada as we chased antelope, elk, mule deer and upland birds. He instilled in us a respect for the outdoors that has laid the foundation of what Banded and our television shows are built on. I was able to share so many wonderful days in the field with my father. Losing him in 2006 shed light on the importance of what he did for us by getting us involved in the outdoors; it’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me, as well as my two brothers, Clint and Clay. My Uncle Mel, as well as friends like Dave Stanley and Jim Rhea, introduced me to waterfowl hunting in the late 1990s and it was over from there. My life revolved around my family, my daughter and ducks. It got into my blood and pretty much takes up most of my time.
Who were the influencers in your life that helped you get into hunting?
My father, Orville Belding, was who made me the hunter and conservationist that I am as he taught me to scout, hunt, stalk, shoot, clean game, cook game, build camps and survive in the woods. I miss him every day and I thank my lucky stars that he was my father for 32 years and gave me the chance to be an American hunter.
Tell us about your first hunt?
My first hunt was a northern Nevada antelope hunt with my father, Cecil Washington, and my brothers. We stalked an antelope for over two hours and had to wait out his does, and when they all finally laid down, we made our final stalk. We closed the gap to about 250 yards and waited for him to stand up. He scored 74 inches but that never mattered to me. He fell after my only shot, and my dad picked me up and sprinted the entire 250 yards up to him and smiling all of the way. It brings tears to my eyes thinking back to that day in 1987 when I was 12 and it is even hard for me to type this. I miss that man!
What advice would you give someone just getting into hunting?
The advice I would give to someone just getting into hunting is to learn how to take the good with the bad, and to understand that success comes with hard work and a respect for whatever animals you choose to chase. In my seminars, I teach people how to take hold of the entire experience and not just the hunt. The kill shot happens so fast and is over so quick, that without the rest of the experience, the hunt would be over in a hurry. I always stress to take a lot of photos and video if possible because the memories of the field are everything to me and the Banded team. Besides that, I always preach to become a consistent shooter so you are always on target. Crippled animals take the fun out of a hunt, but it happens — and when it does, it is the hunter’s responsibility to work tirelessly to find that crippled animal and disperse him. There is a ton to learn about hunting and we can always get into the details, like scouting, calling, concealment, wind direction, scent control, blind placement, etc. I feel that we have to have an understanding of the big picture before we key in on the detailed parts.
What species would you most like to hunt?
My favorite animals to hunt are the mallard duck and the Canada goose. Those two, with predators added in, are my three favorites and are all very close to the top of my list. I also enjoy chasing mule deer, whitetail, all species of turkey, Rocky Mountain Elk, and prairie dogs.
What gear do you carry that you could not live without?
The gear that I carry that I cannot live without would be my Benelli Super Black Eagle II, Federal Black Cloud Ammo, Do-All gear, HI-VIZ sights, and my Banded Calls.
What is your most memorable hunt?
My most memorable hunt was in December of 2005. It was Christmas Eve and it a very foggy day. We were set up for Canada Geese in northern Nevada and were on the X. My father was in the ground blind next to me and he was like a kid in a candy store. As the geese began to leave their roost and approach our spread, it took everything I had to keep my dad relaxed and still in his blind. As I called, “Take ‘em”, my dad was the first one out of his blind each time. The smile on his face was unforgettable and a photo from that hunt is framed and hung on the wall in my office. It would be the last hunt that I ever shared with my dad.
What conservation organizations do you support with your time and money?
I am involved in the following conservation organizations:
- Nevada Waterfowl Association
- California Waterfowl Association
- Ducks Un limited
- Delta Waterfowl
- Mule Deer Foundation
What three tried and true tips do you have to offer hunters for small game?
- Don’t ever hunt without scouting hard the day before you hunt.
- Learn to study the weather patterns and how the birds migrate before and after storm fronts. Be out there when they are moving.
- Learn to hide. If they cannot see you, you will be able to get them close!
In all of the years of hunting what is the most important lesson you have learned from the outdoors?
This is easy, the most important lesson I have learned in the outdoors is that we are so lucky to have a good day when the birds cooperate. Hunting is difficult and it takes a lot of tenacity and learning ability to attain success. We should be humbled by the outdoors and the hunting lifestyle. We should never let ego play a role in this and we need to understand that we are not entitled to this. It can be gone in an instance if we do not practice conservation efforts and if we do not hunt ethically. And finally, hunting takes us all, no matter who you are. You could be a country music star, a professional athlete, or a NASCAR champion, but when you are in the duck blind or the deer stand, you are just a hunter, and that is the way it should be.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Check out our website is www.bandednation.com and we can be followed at:
Where and when can folks tune in to catch your show?
“Benelli’s The Fowl Life with Chad Belding” airs starting July on Outdoor Channel on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. ET.
What would you like other hunters and non-hunters to know about you as a hunter?
I guess what I would want hunters and non-hunters to know about me is that I take a lot of pride in our brand and I work hard every day and get very little sleep in order to make things, such as “Benelli’s The Fowl Life with Chad Belding” and Banded Brands, happen. I pride myself in my work ethic and my approach, as well as how I treat the people around me. It is impossible to please everybody but I want to be good to people and give back because I feel very fortunate to be able to live this lifestyle. I do not take any of it for granted and I never will. I am just a normal guy who loves to hunt and I wish I could hunt with each and every one of our fans and customers. There is no way Banded would be where it is today without our team. From my brothers Clint and Clay Belding to Alex Crosby and Tom Rassuchine, Christian Curtis, Eric Larsgaard, Rick Frisch, Keith Allen, Josh Dokken, and JJ Moser. There are too many to name but if it was not for these guys and Team Banded, none of this would be possible!
When youngsters and their parents come up to meet you for a quick photo or autograph, what message do you hope to convey?
When I am fortunate enough to do an appearance and meet fans, I want them to walk away knowing that they just met a down to earth duck hunter who is humbled to get to shake their hands and get a picture with them. I love to put my call lanyard around a kid’s neck and listen to him or her blow the duck and goose calls and see their face light up. It blows my mind — the response we have received for our gear line and our television shows, and it drives me to continue down this path of producing quality television and hunting products.