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.

Crooked Horn Outfitters

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I love using my Crooked Horn Trail Light.

It works great when you’re trying to walk back to the truck at night.

BowKrazy Tip:  Hunting Season is here, be sure to practice shooting while wearing all of your gear and accessories that you will have on in the field.  I enjoy using my range finder hook up and bino system by Crooked Horn.  It is very accessible for bowhunting and makes my life easier while HUNTING!

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Jolly Ole` Goose Hunting

TJ and I were up and at`em with the good ole smell of coffee brewing.  I walked into the kitchen to read the temperature gauge that read -5ºF, but with goose hunting on the brain I really wasn’t worried about the chill.  Katie (our dog) was up at this point tail a wagging knowing we were about to be on our way for some shotgun action. I opened the door to let her out and wow was it ever so cold brrrr….   
Living on the river is always an advantage for us because once we are ready we just head out the door and walk a few 100 yards and goosing here we come.  We hiked down to the river, glassing to see if they had any deer or elk grazing late morning; just enjoying the moment of being in the outdoors.  Once getting into our blinds the sense of cold started to set in.  It was cold enough that I immediately started to wiggle my toes and my fingers to ensure blood circulation would move through my feet so they wouldn’t freeze.  The snow had been so deep that when I had set my gun down snow had covered my chamber.  So I was quickly rubbing the snow off my gun so my old trusty Mossberg wouldn’t jam.
The morning started off slow with only a few birds flying high.  It was foggy on the river so the visibility made it a little harder than usual.  The sun started to perk up over the mountains and I could see something big flying over the river, “What is that?” I asked TJ.  As it came closer and closer it was a bald eagle.  The Eagle was soaring over the river and as soon as it flew by us we could see duck action but no geese.  We waited and waited, which felt like forever.  I was really starting to get cold.  My eyelashes had ice on them from the steam off of my breath and they were literally freezing.  
At this point we could hear the honkers and the sound kept getting closer and closer.  My heart started to beat faster; I am wide eyed looking to see where they were.  At this moment the feeling of cold had disappeared.  They were flying down river right towards us.  Katie started to get anxious as she could feel my nervousness, I am telling her “wait, wait, wait,” then in a split second they are right in front of us.  I shot off 2 rounds watching a big Canadian tumble into the river and Katie took off.  The flock was flying in the middle of the river so Katie was out swimming in the worse of it.  I bailed out of my blind running down river to keep up with my dog and the goose.  With my being a worrier I always meet Katie down river so she won’t try to swim up river to me, especially in these types of weather conditions.   I am trotting as fast as I can to keep up with them, WOW does the river run fast, or am I just out of shape?  LOL When Katie catches up to the goose she starts nudging it to me.  I yell, “Fetch it uppp!”  She is doing what she is best at, RETREIVING!  As she has that big ole` jolly goose in her jaws I can see that it is as big as she it.   Finally she was in safe waters and drops the goose onto the ice shelf.  She climbs up shaking and wagging her tail.  I continue to tell her, “Good Girl, come with it.”  I was so proud of my dog. 
Katie and I walk back up river to show TJ our prize.  He was hugging me all smiles.  We got our 1st goose of the season!  We were so happy.  Even though I was all warmed up at this point from running down river and walking back, I had to call the day with one goose.  We had enough for dinner and I was ready to eat some breakfast. 
The most important was being able to experience these adventures with not only my best friend but my future husband, TJ Guccini.  As always Smiling Big!