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.

777 Ranch Bucks Locked Together

Alps

Returning to the 777 Ranch in Hondo, Texas to hunt for a week was super exciting.  Over the summer I had brought my bow hoping to harvest a specific animal and wasn’t successful so I came back for a fall hunt, but this time bringing my rifle.  Knowing that hunting is 80% luck and 20% skill I was hoping to fulfill my tag on my short visit.

After flying in from Colorado to the warm state of Texas I knew that hunting was going to be difficult.  The morning started with much needed rain for the state but not for me.  The weather was atrocious and the wind would not cooperate.   In inclement weather conditions deer typically move around less because their instincts tell them they’re “at risk.”  It rained and hailed throughout the week and then a cold front pushed forward.  Regardless of the weather this was not going to stop me from hunting, I was 100% prepared for any weather and the spot and stalking was ON!

As we hunted each day the stalking was getting harder and harder.  As we walked through different areas of the ranch we would see other animals but not what we were looking for.  In this one area the mud was so thick that the rocky terrain was sticking to the bottom of my boots making it impossible to be quite.   Still Nothing!  No Deer, No Does, No bucks, just some damn muddy boots and tired eyes.   After returning from the evening we knew we had to come up with a different game plan.  When we sat down for dinner I felt like a rabid dog who was drooling at the mouth.  The smell of dinner was delightful.  We had yummy pork chops with tators and veggies, plus an adult beverage which was a much needed drink for the week.  For the last hunting day we decided to go to a different area to look for some does.  At this point for me, meat in the freezer was my biggest concern.

With a super early AM wake up and a swig of coffee we were out to a new hunting area on the 777 Ranch.   The stars were shinning bright in the sky giving us barley enough light to see anything.  We hiked into a small opening glassing right and left hoping to try to see something.  With the sun tucked away over the ridgeline it appeared to be a buck and a doe lying underneath the brush out in front of us.  Not wanting to spook anything out of the area we decided to hang tight until we could distinguish what we were looking at.  As the sun started to rise we then realized that it wasn’t a doe, but another buck, not one but 2 bucks.

When bucks go into the rut they will fight and most “fights” are just pushing and shoving matches, but sometimes those fights can lead to death which is unfortunate for both animals.   There are rare occasions when bucks get their antlers locked and death does occur.   This was one of those occasions where the other buck had died and the other one was still alive.  The buck continued to fight trying to get his antlers unlocked but he was just not able to do so.  We continued to watch the fight and knew it would physical be impossible to try to rescue the buck and separate him.

My hunt quickly became a buck hunt in a matter of a split second!   Shooting sticks up and rifle loaded, aim for perfection on a perfect heart shot to the buck.  With my heart racing and adrenalin taking over my success of a harvest was accomplished, buck down!  Although the bucks weren’t what I came to hunt but this rare and amazing opportunity presented itself and I was able to harvest these beautiful animals.  The feeling of accomplishment for me to have such a rare trophy is a true blessing.

Always observing the grand beauty of the outdoors and the scenery, as I walked up to my bucks I noticed a fossil lying right beside them.  As I picked up the fossil I knew that this was an experience of a once in a lifetime hunt but to also have a piece of Mother Nature right on the side of me.   Some folks may call it luck but for me, it’s a memory of a lifetime that I will be able to experience each day for my passion for the outdoors.

BucksLocked

Fall Hunting Classic August 3rd Come See US

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ALSO LISTEN LIVE TO TERRY WICKSTROM AND JACKIE GROSS

Saturday @ 10:15 am

A HUNTRESS IN THE OUTDOORS

August 3, Saturday Meet the Stars! Center Court @ Bass PRO Denver

11 AM:  Mark Campagnola, Predator Calling Champ, Elk Calling Statics

12 PM:  Jackie Gross, Extreme Huntress, Hunting thru Eyes of a Huntress

1 PM:   David Blanton, Team Realtree, The Evolution of Hunting Shows

2 PM:  Bob Hix, Read Head Pro Staff, Elk Hunting with a Muzzle Loader

3 PM:  Mark Campagnola, Predator Calling Champ Elk, Hunting Rocky Mountain Elk