Busting Ducks in da Cajun Country!

Leaving on a jet plane and I don’t know when I’ll be back again!  Busting Ducks in da’Cajun country. Let’s shoot it! I guess sometimes I get so buried in talking about hunting that sometimes I kind of forget to remind everyone on what’s going on and where. So for those of you who may not know, I grew up hunting ducks in Louisiana with my dad and brother. Mom would make a roux stirring the pot constantly to make the best duck gumbo you could ever imagine or a yummy rice-n-gravy.  Umm talk about good eatin`!  Whatever game my daddy hunted my momma would cook.

Growing up, my brother and I would hunt before school and then hurry to class with my momma a fussing cuz she didn’t want us to be tardy. When we were in high school the teachers were still allowed to paddle you so one tardy and you were gonna get a whippin! For some reason, it always seemed that hunting or fishing was more important to us; we were too poor to have video games or any of that kind of electronic junk.  I guess our notion was to put food on the table for the family and keep the freezers full.

Over the years my brother and I grew up, living thousands of miles away.  I reside in the mountains of Colorado and my family still resides in my Home State of Louisiana. My brother travels the World on a ship and is gone for months at a time, floating the waves of the North Sea.  We don’t get to see much of each other; I only get to come home approximately twice a year to visit my family.  Well, for this year we decided to surprise my Mom for her 60thBirthday.  We planned a little party for her friends to come in and I would fly home to surprise her as well.  Wouldn’t ya know it was not only mom’s birthday but it was also DUCK SEASON?  Yeppers it was.  We planned mom’s “Surprise” birthday party but my brother also booked us a duck hunting trip.  I know, I know, your mom’s birthday and we chose duck hunting? Well duh, of course we would!  We were home, just not in the home.  Laughing

With the shotguns loaded we were ready to go meet our guide Mr. Corey Badon. Not only is Corey an avid outdoorsman, but he’s also a veteran that has served in Iraq and is a member of the United States Army. It was an honor to be able to hunt with such a fine solider that has fought to keep our Country Free!

The morning drive was a bit foggy as we headed to a lil ole` town called Johnson Bayou.  My dad and I were rocking out with come chank-a-chank (its Cajun music), and then my brother changed the channel to classical music.  I was like what in the world are you doing? Geeze you’re a dork! We all chuckled and finally arrived to our destination.

Johnson Bayou is a small unincorporated community located on the Creole Nature Trail along the Gulf Coast in Cameron Parish, Louisiana that was established in 1790, it only has about 400 people in the town. The village is spread across coastal Chenier’s which was formed by deltaic sediment by the shifting of the Mississippi River. The Sabine refuge is the largest coastal marsh refuge in the gulf containing 124,511 acres of land. This is also the wintering ground and migration route for over 3.13 million species of ducks in the Central Flyway Zone.

We loaded up the flatbed aluminum boat and started to head to the blind. The sky was as black as night and all you could really see was the fade of the cat tails and marsh grass as Corey steered the Gator Tail thru the grassy trails by memory. All you can hear is woomp… as the mud motor chomped thru the inches of water to get from marsh to marsh. As you look up to the early morning sky you can barely see the stars fading as the morning sun is trying to peak thru. Once arriving to the open water we carefully threw the decoys out one by one. We then pulled the boat on top of some tall marsh grass and put up the pop-up blind. We loaded our guns and gathered our gear, listening to the buzzing of the mosquitos and the croaking of the frogs. Capturing moments of silence you can hear a cackle of a marsh hen and a splash of a gator slithering back to its den. Looking at the sun rise you can see the gorgeous purples and bright oranges hovering over the horizon.  That is the moment where you truly know that you’re in God’s country. It’s kind of like if you’re starring into a mystery land, with a slight breeze gently cooling your face; you can smell the marsh mud, hearing different sounds trying to distinguish each and every one of them.  It’s when you’re so relaxed it almost feels as if you’re dozing off in your own world and nothing else is around you.  That’s how it feels to be lost with Mother Nature.

At day break you can hear some ducks at a distance. Corey grabs his duck call, “quack, quack, and quack.” The ducks start circling to land in the decoys. Wait, wait, wait, TAKEM’, POW, POW, POW, we all shoot knocking down some blue-winged teal.  Smiling big we know this is just the early morning risers. As we wait for some more ducks to come our direction we see a huge nutria-rat in front of the blind.

A nutria rat is better known as a river rat, it’s a large herbivorous rodent that is very destructive by disrupting the habitat for other animals and humans that are dependent on the marshes. The nutria consumes 25% of its body weight daily being one of the world’s largest extant rodents. I took out my camera and started to take a few pictures and before I knew it Dad and Chris start shooting away at some mallard drakes!  Some quack action for them and big grins for some more ducks down. As we BS about life and share stories trying to whisper quietly within a blink of an eye some gray ducks speed up the canal right in front of Corey, BOOM, BOOM! He, took’em so quick we didn’t even have a shot.  We then laugh and call him a BIRD HOG, joking! Checking the time we still have my Mom’s “Birthday Party” to attend so we call it with our limit and begin to pick up our shells and load up the decoys. We head back to the dock just a grinning from ear to ear talking a little Cajun.  It sounds like dis, “A man sha` we did pretty well yeah, I bet dem` boy’s at da` dock didn’t do as good as us, we be bustin`em up”!

Our coast back to the boat launch was ever so soothing knowing we have some ducks to pluck when we get home and more so the family bond between all of us.  It was like ole` times when we used to hunt together when we were young. We compared ducks at the launch with the other hunters and were impressed on how well we did. “Now dat` be a good duck day` man sha!” We loaded in the pickup with muddy boots and all.  Dad and I cranked it up some more chank-a-chank and drove home to mommas to show her our success.  We plucked the ducks and then sat on the porch and made memories just like ole’ times while drinking a cold beverage. Now that’s what family is about!

As Always Smiling Big.

Lake Calcasieu

A little fishy-fishy in da Cajun state of Louisiana. I finished off my High School years in a little ole’ town called Hackberry Louisiana. This is definitely where I call home now. I grew up fishing my whole life so every time I have the opportunity to get my line wet in the salty waters of Lake Calcasieu I do.

Turkey Ridge Ranch Texas Whitetail

Working to Hunt
As the story unfolds you will be surprised on how small of a world it is in the Outdoor Industry.  This story may seem like it skips around a bit but ya know as an avid Huntress sometimes that’s the toll you take when having a passion for the Outdoors.

It all started last summer when I found out that I was going to have to take a temporary assignment for work and be gone away from my family for over 4 months.  When my husband TJ Guccini and I found out that I was going to miss bow season we were really disappointed.  Bow hunting with my husband is “Our Time”!  We don’t go on vacation, we don’t have special occasions, but what we do have is HUNTING, and hunting the back country is what we look forward to everyday until it arrives.  The studying of the land, hiking deep into the wilderness, discovering each pocket of critters, memorizing the saddles and the hard earned sweat was going to have to wait.  I had even drawn my bear tag after waiting for 3 years and the opportunity to hunt was going to be on hold.

Once flying on a jet plane to Texas for work all I could take was the memories of hunting.  With many folks being jobless in the United States I was thankful that I was working.  Each hunting adventure that we go on is paid out of our own pockets so for me working is extremely important because it gives us the freedom to be able to hunt and follow my dreams.

The 4 months of being out of state flew by and next thing I knew bow season was knocking on the back door.  TJ went ahead and hunted on his own with his dad and buddies.  The opportunities for him were slim but his Dad, Mr. Toby was successful in harvesting a nice chocolate black bear.  Like I have said before, hunting is 80% Luck and 20% Skill.  I actually wasn’t too disappointed that TJ didn’t harvest an animal because I have to keep the “Woman Cave” active with my animals in our home!  Joking

The job was finally coming to a close and lucky enough we finished 4 weeks early and my plane ticket was booked for the Mountain State.  As soon as I flew in, I bought an over the counter rifle tag which only gave me 5 days to hunt.  The 1st morning we went before sunrise and a wicked snow storm blew over us.  It was FREEZING!  Leaving 100°F weather to 32°F weather was a huge adjustment.  The snow came down so hard that you could barely see 10’feet in front of you.  My feet were freezing and I was on the verge of starting a fire to warm up.  Yes, you’re thinking right, I WASN’T PREAPRED FOR SNOW!  Once the storm rolled out and it started to clear a young bull showed himself but I couldn’t bring myself to take him.  I was looking for something a little bit more mature (honestly something as mature as my husband’s bull from the year before) but no luck.  The no luck card played for a couple more days and as we traveled out on the trail we ran
into some hunters from the Big State of Texas.  Well ya know, with my being a little Cajun I started jibber-jabbering away talking about fishing and hunting and coincidentally this gentleman Mr. Bob Worsham fished with some really good friends of mine in South Louisiana.  Well that made us chit-chat more and next thing I knew we were talking about white tail hunting.  As we continued to tell stories, Mr. Bob mentioned that he had access to hunt private land for elk which boarded where we were hunting.  With me knowing the area so well and not having access to hunt private land I decided to tell them about a GINORMOUS 6 point bull that had been hanging out over the ridge line.  I drew them a map in the dirt hoping that if they were lucky they could harvest this bull and have a great Trophy to bring back to Texas.  Well they must have had more luck then us because Bob’s friend Dale was able to take the bull and us not so lucky.  The last night I had
an opportunity to chase a bull right before sunset but I contained myself because I knew he really wasn’t what I was looking for.    In a short 5 days of hunting, the season was over.  No Bear, No Elk, No Luck, until the phone call came! To be continued…….

Texas Bound 2 Bucks DOWN
Christmas presents, Guns and puppies, the truck was loaded and ready to head south!

They’re few and far between but sometimes you may run into a true genuine sole that you can call a friend.  After no luck on bear or elk, TJ and I started to prepare for the Christmas Holidays.  One evening sitting at the house I received a phone call from a gentleman by the name of Mr. Bob Worsham.  We had met Mr. Bob and his friend Mr. Dale during elk season and we had directed them on where a nice 6 point bull was hanging out.  They were lucky enough to harvest a nice 350 class trophy and take him back home to Texas.

Once visiting with Mr. Bob over the phone I was lost for words.  “Really, no way, seriously, are you joking?”  Grinning ear to ear, TJ looking like what, “Is everything ok”?  After hanging up the phone I was speechless and could just nod yeah, TJ, “what?”  I scream on the top of my lungs and start jumping up and down, “WE ARE GOING WHITETAIL HUNTING IN TEXAS!”  Mr. Bob had invited TJ and me to come hunt whitetail on Dale’s Ranch the week before Christmas.

With us already heading down to Louisiana we would only have to take a slight detour and we could be there in 18 hours.  Yes, I WILL SAY IT AGAIN HUNTING WHITETAIL on TURKEY RIDGE RANCH, HERE WE COME!  See, in Colorado they only have whitetail in the Eastern part so TJ and I have only hunted Mule Deer.  I did get lucky and harvest 2 bucks that were locked up this year but it wasn’t like I had truly been hunting whitetail.  As the end of the year grew closer the dates were coming up and so was the excitement.  We wanted to check off our list and ensure we weren’t missing anything for the long stretch across 4 states.  Let’s see, “Guns-check, Christmas presents-check, ice chests-check, camo-check, snack-check, dogs-check, o yeah luggage, we got it!”  Locked up and loaded, LET’s DO IT!  Texas Bound!  Driving the 18 hours felt like it took forever.  We talked about the basics, “Who’s going to shoot first?”  That was simple, LADIES FIRST!
Yep, that’s right umm hum, my husband is such a gentleman.

We stopped at a run-down motel in Texas for our last nights of rest before the big day.  Up and early we arrived to Turkey Ridge Ranch.  They had blackbuck running around, fallow deer, and even a Kangaroo.  Yes, a kangaroo, at first I told TJ, “That’s the biggest damn jackrabbit I have ever seen”.  We followed Mr. Bob down a gravel road and arrived to our yellow cabin.  It had a fenced in yard and a little front porch with a rocking chair.  The place was absolutely perfect.  We quickly unloaded our bags, changed into our camouflage and off to the blind we go for a late afternoon hunt!

Mr. Bob started telling us a litt
le about the territory and was preparing us for what kind of bucks we were going to see.  He dropped us off in a ground blind and said he would be back at dark.  TJ and I huddled in the little ole blind and we were waiting and waiting.  Patience truly is a virtue when you’re hunting.  Next thing you know in the corner of our eyes a
few does started to move in and graze in front of us.  I glassed out in the distance and I could see a really wide buck making his way to check out the girls. As he came in closer I counted 8 points and was excited.  I told TJ, “I want to take him”.  TJ insisted that I wait a little longer because he was the 1st buck, well I waited alright, and here comes a 10 point.  But he still wasn’t as wide as the 8 point.  Both bucks continued to graze and that 8 point walked closer and closer to the blind and I told TJ I wanted him.  I carefully took my gun off safety and watched thru my scope waiting for the perfect shot.  He then started walking straight for the blind! I was so worried that he was going to smell us; he was less than 20 yards away and wouldn’t stop so I took the shot!  BOOM!  Buck down, I ejected my shell, put my gun on safety and climbed over TJ with excitement to head out the blind.  There he was, so beautiful.  I was smiling ear to
ear.
We waited on Mr. Bob to show up and I was talking 90to nothing.  O my, I am so excited, giving him about 20 hugs!  I was truly so excited.  We headed
back to the cabin for a nice warm dinner that Mr. Bob cooked for us.  It was sausage and rice.  So good!  After dinner TJ and I cleaned my buck and let him hang overnight.

The next morning we woke up to the smell of yummy coffee and I was going to hunt predators and TJ was going to go to a different blind to hopefully find him a buck.  All morning I watched this majestic 8 point.  He had a 7 inch brow tines.  I captured pictures with my camera and was wishful that a hog or bobcat was going to show themselves, but I never seen any.  TJ also didn’t have any luck on his morning hunt.  We headed back to the cabin and we ate a big breakfast.  TJ and I quartered my deer and put him on ice.  After visiting for a bit I was showing TJ the buck that I had seen.  Mr. Bob told us well hell, why don’t yall just go back out and see if maybe you can find a different buck.  We could see the clouds building up and we knew a storm was supposed to roll through the afternoon.

Off to the Turkey Blind we go.  This blind was much smaller and super low to the ground.  We had to be extra quiet and watch all of our movement.  I had dozed off a little bit (thankfully I don’t snore) to the sound of the trees and the cool breeze blowing thru.  Then I felt something hitting my knee.  I open my eyes and smile and TJ nudges me to look to my right.  At a distance I seen a doe and she was making her way towards us.  A good hour ticked by and in the distance we could see a buck making its way down the hillside.  As he got closer so did the doe.  The problem was the doe was getting a little suspicious of the blind we were in.  The last thing we needed was for her to spook and chase off the buck.  We continued to watch this buck and he was the one, the one with the 7 inch brow tines!  I nodded my head, whispering so soft, that’s him, that’s him.  God must have been listening to our prayers.  TJ quietly took his gun off safety and turned
his 9 power up on his scope.  The deer was a little over 120 yards.  He said are you ready, and BOOM he shot.  Even though I knew it was coming, I still jumped and about hit my head on the roof of the blind.  We bailed out and headed to the hill side.  Another buck down and this was only the 2nd afternoon.  TJ was so proud of his buck and his smile was from ear to ear.  We headed back to the camp with a grin of success.  We skinned out TJ’s buck, quartered him, and in the ice chest he went.  We packed the truck with smiles on our faces.  The feeling of success and joy was like no other.  Ya, know I once heard a saying, “Those who Hunt Together, Stay Together”.  We had closed out our hunting chapter for the year with 2 bucks which made up for the time we missed during bow season.

As we loaded up to keep trucking to Louisiana only 4 days before Christmas we had the opportunity to give Big Hugs to Mr. Bob and Mr. Dale.  TJ and I were so grateful that we met such genuine people who have helped build memories for a lifetime.  They will always hold a place in our hearts.  Thank you Turkey Ridge Ranch 

O yeah, I almost forgot TJ’s buck did score ¾ inch bigger than mine and YES I am having it re-measured.

If you are interested in hunting Texas let me know or contact Bob Worsham http://www.worsham-realestate.com/