Duck hunting makes a great way to baby-sit

Duck hunting makes a great way to baby-sit

The boys don’t go to school tomorrow and I have to work,I said my wife, Sweetums. You have to look after them.

By coincidence, David Guillory of Mallard Lodge southeast of Lake Charles, La., called. He said Mallard Lodge, one of the premier duck hunting camps in the state for years, is back in operation under new management. He invited me to see what they’ve done to the old place and shoot a few ducks.

Light bulbs, or maybe muzzle flashes, went off in my head. What better place to keep an eye on young boys than in the close confines of a duck blind? That’s my idea of baby-sitting,” although one can hardly call my strapping moose calves babies.

That afternoon, I packed the gear and waited for my sons, Daniel, 9, and Stevie, to return from school. It also happened to be Stevies seventh birthday. Following the time-honored Felsher Family tradition of procrastination, we shopped for a few extra almost-late birthday gifts, camouflaged hunting clothes! I plan to organize a Procrastinators Club if I ever get around to it, but my Apathy Club died from a lack of interest.

Buying everything we needed to turn ourselves invisible, (too bad wives can see through camouflage) we headed to Mallard Lodge near Holmwood, La. Arriving at sundown, we listened to the cacophony of geese flying overhead in the fading light.

Inside the lodge, Junior Breaux busied himself in the kitchen. The spicy aroma of roasting venison from deer killed on the property wafted through the wood-paneled lodge. While Junior kept our mouths watering until suppertime, we talked about the lodge and duck hunting in general with the guides. The boys admired and fantasized mounted specimens on the walls.

Mallard Lodge first opened back in the late 1960s with a remodeled Army barracks building serving as the headquarters. It flourished throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but suffered bad years in the early 1990s. No one hunted it commercially in about four years.

Dr. Lynn Foret, a Lake Charles orthopedic surgeon, leased about 6,400 acres in time for hunting season this year and fixed up the old place. Now, the lodge can house up 16 hunters in style and offers outstanding duck gunning. Situated between Lacassine and Cameron Prairie national wildlife refuges, the impounded freshwater marshes and flooded fields pull in ducks and geese in huge numbers.

George Fontenot, our guide, grew up in these marshes. A Marine veteran who saw action on Guadalcanal in World War II, George put us in a marshy pothole known to attract mallards.

At daybreak, two blue-winged teal landed in the decoys. Daniel aimed his .410 single-shot, but both erupted from the pond before he could fire. No matter, Daniel dropped a hen cleanly before it could fly very far. The bismuth ammunition did its job. I next added to the score. I dropped a teal with one shot. However, we later lost it in thick grass. Stevie kept up our perfect tally. He nailed a coot that foolishly swam into the decoys. With Daniel’s .410, he bagging his first game bird. Unfortunately, I ruined our average after firing three times at a lone duck passing overhead. The boys laughed that I missed, but they didn’t realize the miracle they saw. They saw a dead duck fly away! Big ducks flew later. We didn’t see many until about 8:30 a.m. We did watch multitudes of geese pressed against the azure sky. Highlighted by brilliant sunshine, thousands of specklebellies and snows flew over in wave after high wave. However, our spread didn’t interest them and we didn’t have any antiaircraft missiles. Mallards did swoop low over the blind. George brought them in with his excellent calling. I dropped one greenhead and crippled another that we lost. I regretted that we only nailed one out of that flock, but George said another greenhead floated dead on the pond. Who shot that one, I didn’t,” I said. “I got it,” Daniel nonchalantly replied. He nailed it with his H&R; .410 crackbarrel. Stevie finished off a swimming greenhead later with one shot from a bismuth .410 round. In contrast, George and I fired steel into a greenhead about five or six times to finally kill the cripple.

We ended the morning with four greenheads, a hen mallard, a blue-winged teal and a coot. We also lost a teal, a greenhead and another hen mallard.Well, boys, I killed three birds and knocked down three others,” I said. Daniel, you got two and Stevie you shot one. George also got one. The last two times, Daniel, you shot the only ducks and I didn’t get anything. This time, I shot the most ducks No you didn’t,” Daniel responded. You shot three, but you lost three so you subtract three from three and you got zero, Daddy Yeah, Daddy,” Stevie chimed in. “I finished off one greened on the water. Whoever shot it last gets the credit, so I got a mallard and a coot. That gives you minus-one.” And, Daddy,” Daniel added, you shot at a goose, but didn’t bring it down. That gives you minus-two!” Only with my boys can I shoot almost a limit of mallards and still finish in last place.

On many days, I bagged nothing, but never returned home with a negative bag limit! Think maybe the game wardens will allow me to shoot two extra ducks on my next trip to balance the negative two?

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