There have been many descriptions of duck hunters over the years and most are not flattering. So I thought I would
take a typical day from this past duck season and try and capture the true essence of a duck hunter. Hopefully, it will
help explain the joy, challenge, and rewards that a duck hunter receives each time he goes on a hunt, and at the
same time provide a little insight into why we do what we do.


It’s January 4th,


I woke up and left my warm bed at 4 a.m. Rain mixed with ice was beginning to fall, the temperature read 22 degrees
on my porch thermometer and the wind was from the South-East at around 20 mph. A typical duck hunting day,
except we seldom get easterly winds.


I started the coffee then returned to the bedroom to scrounge through my hunting clothes. My wife looked up from
the bed and gave me the same heart-warming send off she usually does, …. “you must be crazy” she muttered.


“Well, if I am, there are 7 more just like me waiting at the camp,” I replied.


She closed her eyes then rolled over, grateful for the extra room left in the bed.


I stopped out on the highway at the 24-hour gas station to fill up my pickup and refill my coffee cup. All the while the
clerk suspiciously looked over my camouflage attire and black grease paint on my face. I noticed him closely watching
me as I stepped back in my pickup to drive through total darkness and icy rain to our duck camp while constantly
watching the road and ditches for deer that apparently love to jump in front of my vehicle.


I finally reached my destination, The Mallard Inn Duck Camp. Which already held five other sleepy-eyed hunters, two
smelly Labrador retrievers, and the ever present scent of lake mud, sweat, and burned biscuits hanging in the air like
heavy pollution?


I walked in, offered a, “Good Morning”, greeting, which was answered with two grunts, a screw-you, and a
resounding belch.


“Want breakfast?” Bob asked. I said “Yes,” and he threw a rock-hard biscuit that bounced off my hands ricocheted
across the dining table and hit a drowsy hunter just below his worry lines.


“Good hands,” the biscuit thrower grumbled. “You should be a wide receiver for the Tigers.”


I retrieved the biscuit, exchanged a few more endearing terms that I would never print in a family friendly website. Sat
down at the table to enjoy another cup of coffee along with the rock-hard biscuit.


Bob got up, looked out the window and said, “Daylight will be coming soon, think it’s time to go to the blind”.


Our trek to our tethered duck boats began as we set out to provide duck-meat nourishment for our families that
costs several thousand dollars a pound after you factor in all expenses. We are all loaded up with our blind bags,
shotguns, shells, extra 6-volt and 12-volt batteries, and the ever present thermos of coffee. Dawn was just breaking
as we all started our walk down the 300 foot home-made dock that was bouncing on its barrels like a thrill ride at
SixFlags amusement park. This same walk seemed a lot easier 40 years ago.


We moved through the darkness along the icy dock which was pitching up and down in the 20 mph winds. Eager
Labrador retrievers added to the dangers of negotiating the slippery surface by constantly bumping our legs while
awaiting to load into a boat.


Under these adverse conditions you can count on each hunter being especially vigilant, constantly watching his
fellow hunter, not wanting to miss seeing someone slip, trip, fall, or slide into the cold lake. This type of face-first
plunge would have drawn hysterical laughter from all of the hunters and duck blind conversation for all our
remaining years.


Now let me make a suggestion to young hunters that still have many years of hunting with their buddies; never, and
I repeat never, do something that may be classified as stupid on a duck hunt. You will never hear the end of it!
This brings up the subject of duck blind conversations. This is a series of talks about memorable hunts, and
embarrassing moments that happened to someone else on a hunt, or in our case, the conversation might turn to the
morning that Will fell off the dock and sunk up so deep in the mud that it took 3 of us and a hoist to get him unstuck
and back onto the walk, or the morning that Kim fell off the blind while trying to kick his lab for retrieving decoys.
Anyway, back to the hunt at hand. We were all loaded into our boats and headed out to the blind.


This morning Will and I are hunting with Bob. Now let me stop right here. …. Bob has this uncanny knack or talent of being able to negotiate in total darkness, through the thickest stump field without ever hitting a stump. Yet the return trip, in broad daylight, is quite dangerous as he seems to have an uncanny knack of being able to hit every stump.


So here we go cutting through 3-ft high waves toward the blind. About half way there, I hear Bob say, “It’s too rough
to hunt the open water tank blind, let’s go hunt the woods blind.”


We all agreed that under these windy conditions it might be more productive and protected to hunt our woods blind.


“We need to swing by the tank blind and pick up a “mojo” for the woods blind.” Bob said.


Now a “mojo” is any brand of battery operated spinning-wing decoy, which we all have several that are mounted on
top of metal pipes that are driven into the lake bottom. These motorized spinners are strategically placed among our
stools of floating decoys so that their movement will attract ducks from all directions.


OK … picture this, the boat is bouncing up and down like a rubber ball as Bob skillfully maneuvers the boat up next to
a mojo mounted on top of one of these metal pipes. I reach out and grab the pipe just as the boat suddenly dips
down between swales. The pole bends, I loose my grip, and the mojo catapults off the pole out into the dark abyss.


“That’s $149 you owe me,” Bob says.


“Ain’t worth that much. That’s the one that Will shot yesterday.” I replied as we continued on to collect another


You see, during yesterday’s hunt, a duck flew in over the decoys and Will put one of his infamous F.F.T’s on it. The
duck flew past one of the mojo’s and Will put so many holes in that spinner that the wings began to whistle as they


Having finally made a successful retrieve, and with spinner at hand we head towards the woods blind.


Thanks to Bob’s skillful maneuvering through the stools of decoys to get our spinning-wing mojo, we now are
dragging a dozen decoys behind us. They have gotten wrapped around the motor, caught on the boat, and tangled in
the prop. We continue on, leaving a single-file trail of decoys in our wake.


Arriving at the woods blind, We place our spinner into position on a metal pole and climbed into the blind.


Our woods blind was built using 55-gallon drums as floatation. It is set in a productive spot with carefully laid out
stools of decoys. Earlier in the season we had skillfully arranged our decoys to imitate ducks resting and feeding in a
spot that was better than the other million spots all over the lake – or at least that’s what we were determined to
make the ducks think.


In the Blind we sat on our homemade bench with shotguns loaded and duck calls in hand as we scanned the sky and
waited for a flock of mallards to appear.


It was raining, the wind was blowing, the blind was bouncing, and ice was beginning to coat the brush and moss used
as camouflage. Our collars were turned up while we sat and sat and sat.


After sitting three hours in this uncomfortable place, Bob suggested, “Well, I guess the ducks are not coming.” so we
packed up our gear, loaded back into the boat and eased out to retrieve our recently mounted mojo.


Once again Bob artfully maneuvered the boat up next to the mojo pole, I grabbed the mojo, yanked upward to
dislodge it from the pole. It had formed a layer of ice which caused it to slip from my hands launching up into the air
and back down to the bottom of the lake.


“That’s now $258 you owe me,” Bob said, as he hit a stump with the motor.


After several near-death collisions with hidden stumps we made our way back to the dock. Once the boat was
tethered we began the heart-testing trek back up the long, now ice covered dock, each with 50 pounds of equipment
strapped over our shoulders and a disappointed Labrador retriever that was apparently still trying to trip me.


Suddenly I stepped on a extremely slippery spot, slide into Bob causing him to loose his grip on a new 12-volt battery
that plunged off the dock and to the bottom of the lake.


“You now owe me $366,” he muttered.


Now a psychiatrist might offer a reason for full-grown men willingly spending a portion of their lives like this. Healers
of our mind’s problems might find a scientific term for this behavior, they might even write a thesis for one of them
nut-case journals. A psychiatrist might even conclude: “One reason they put their bodies and minds through extreme torture and return year after year to continue this punishment is because they are crazy!”


I finally arrived back home, cold, wet, and muddy. I walked into the house and my loving wife of over 30+ years looked at me and said, “you are crazy”.


She also told me that Bob had called and she was mailing him a check for the $366 that I owe him.


It was then that she looked straight into my wind burned eyes and said. “You need to find another hunting partner,
we really can’t afford for you to hunt with Bob anymore.”


According to Dr. Larry Reynolds, Waterfowl Study Leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the per hunter kill on the four Wildlife Management Areas in Southeast Louisiana that do regular bag-checks was down about 25-30% but in Southwest Louisiana at the White Lake Wetland Conservation Area bag was the same or better than in the past. The private Coastal Club in the same are was similar to last year but the Cherry Ridge club was down about 30% according to one of the land managers.

A few things are certain. Warm temperatures and extensive flooding shifted the mid-winter population estimates to the north. Louisiana and Arkansas were below average; Mississippi was right at average; Missouri was over twice their long-term average; and Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky were above average.

Dr. Reynolds is fairly certain that hunting was below average, but he has received few direct complaints. He suspects that below average hunting has to do with the combination of extensive flooding and 80-degree temperature at Christmas.

Goose hunting is greatly reduced in Louisiana. The January Snow Goose census in Louisiana was 287,000 compared to the flyway count of 2,235,000. The Louisiana total was approximately half the 2011-2015 average.

More information about the 2015-2016 season will be available in coming months as Dr. Reynolds and his team collect data from their annual waterfowl hunter surveys.

Follow US


Receive Our Newsletter
News, Events, & Notices
Featured Photo
Featured Video
Mallard Inn Highlights