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.

Quest to Africa No Sweat!

I can’t stop smiling when I describe my year-long journey that will climax next month when I hunt Cape Buffalo in Africa.

It all started when I won the 2012 Extreme Huntress contest sponsored by Tahoe Films. Well, not really. It all began in the Louisiana Bayou, when my Dad and my brother took me hunting. But that’s another story.

Preparation for Africa has been very challenging. Let me tell you a bit about that…. The Extreme Huntress title comes with more than just an Extreme Hunting trip.  TJ (my fiancé) and I had to postpone our wedding. That’s because our wedding dates conflicted with the scheduled hunt schedule. Conflict or not, TJ and I chose rifle shells over wedding bells.  But hang on, TJ will be joining me as an “observer” for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Another challenge has been learning to use my new Blaser 375 H&H with Barnes VOR-TX bullets and Aimpoint Red Dot site.  Can I say “O-U-C-H!?” I just did—many times! The rifle kick rocks my petite body after every shot. Really, it is quite comical to watch, me with my big ear-to-ear grin, even if it is going to HURT.


An even-bigger challenge has been using sticks.  I have never shot off of sticks. Executing this task has been more difficult than I originally anticipated. Yet another joke is: “Jackie is going to go to shoot her Cape and you’re going to see her disappear off camera! BANG. GONE! WHERE’S JACKIE?!”

Our quest will take us on a 1,500-mile stretch, from new home in Colorado to first home in Louisiana, then to New York for an overnighter.  In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty our journey out of the country will begin, first with a 15-hour flight to Johannesburg, followed by a trek to Victoria Falls and arrival in Bulawayo.

We will meet up with Tahoe Films to head to the Omay Concession, a-10 hour Jeep ride through the rough terrain of Africa. Once arriving at our Lodge with Martin Pieters I will then start my extreme hunt–one of the Big 5 DANGEROUS GAME: Cape Buffalo!

Guess what I told TJ in case we run into trouble? That’s right: “I can run faster than you!” Is that something you should say to your fiancé?

I will keep you posted on what will happens next.


Final weekend of Bass Pro Fall Hunting Classic

The final weekend of Bass Pro Shops Fall Hunting Classic focuses its attention on waterfowl, big game and predator hunting tactics Saturday and Sunday, with a sideshow dedicated to dog training for upland bird hunts. Free seminars offering advanced hunting strategies and techniques run hourly from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, including a presentation on elk hunting through the eyes of huntress Jackie Gross at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Also, Rocky Mountain/Midwest Decoy Collectors Association will display duck decoys from as far back as the 1800s. Pointer and retriever demonstrations by some of the Rocky Mountain region’s top dogs begin Saturday, and there will be sessions Sunday.

More info: Visit http://www.basspro.com/ for a list of exhibitors and complete schedule of events at the Denver store (7970 Northfield Blvd.).

Scott Willoughby, The Denver Post

Read more: Final weekend of Bass Pro Shops Fall Hunting Classic – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/outdoors/ci_21313452/final-weekend-bass-pro-shops-fall-hunting-classic#ixzz23dckBHbm
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