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Duck Hunting the Red River
Rob Johnson gives us his opening day tale

It is funny what you look back on, the things you have done, and yes, even the things you wish you hadn't done! Looking back I can remember one such thing, the opening day of duck season last year, we should not have been on the river, but was awfully glad I made the foolish mistake to go anyway! Let me tell you the "rest" of the story though so you can make up your own minds. 
It was the opening day of duck season in Louisiana, no doubt a long awaited event to many sportsmen here, as well as the rest of the country. 

I had planned to met my two hunting buddies, Ernie and Robbie at Clarks boat launch on the Red River, and we were going to hunt a blind a few miles up the river in a old oxbow. I arrived at the launch and greeted them, as they were loading their gear into my boat, that done, I swung the boat over to, and down the ramp, parked the truck, and got everyone loaded in the boat. Now here is where it starts to get interesting, you see, that morning, the fog was thick.....pea soup kinda think! In fact, it was so foggy, that you couldn't see much past twenty yards!! I was worried about us finding the main river channel, not to mention a duck blind off in some oxbow a few miles away!! But, after some discussion, I was assured we could make it all the way. So, with Ernie in the front of the boat holding the spot light, Robbie in the middle, and me in the back with a compass and GPS we idled out of the marina, and quickly became engulfed in the fog! 

As we eased our way through some standing timber and out into a more open area, somehow, we managed to go around in not one, but two, very large circles, and run a ground a few times. Having that little problem out of our systems, we got back on course, skirting a rock jetty that would led us out to the main channel. Once we saw that first channel marker, we thought things were going to get easier, but the fog totally engulfed almost every bit of light the one million candle powder spot light put out! And running in those conditions using only a compass and GPS is a little to hairy for me! So, we kinda ran along about a quarter throttle, Ernie straining to find an out reflector on a bouy, Robbie telling us to go faster, we are going to be late, and me running the motor, and trying to watch the compass and GPS. Things would go pretty well for a while, then we would stray off course and find ourselves on a head on collision course with one of the rock jetties that are abundant on the Red. Then, it seemed to be a major task just to get back on track, and once again start up the river! There were even a few times, we heard men's voices, only to find guys in their duck boats tied to a channel markers, hopelessly lost in the fog, waiting for the sun to come up so they could see.

Finally, after this ordeal, the GPS showed it was time to turn off the river, and enter into the strip of flooded timber surrounding the oxbow. Now, this was not as simple as it sounds, it's still foggy as all get out, and now we have to leave the "comfort" of open water, and start zigzagging through old trees and stumps! But, by far, the worst part was finding a small crossing in the rock jetty, this was a place were a few rocks were removed, to make it a little deeper, so that a small duck boat could float across. The only problem was that you could not tell where it was from the surface, you had to line up a couple of small reference points in order to hit it, and with the fog, well, lets just say we didn't make it on the first attempt! 

So, as we tried to cross the rock jetty, that terrible sound of aluminum scrapping across rocks let us know we had slightly missed the crossing area. And to make it worst, we got hung up on the rocks as well! After a considerable amount of effort, and with Ernie standing on the slippery rocks, we finally got the boat over the jetty, and into deeper water. As we continued on, working our way through the trees and stumps, we reached the oxbow, and more open water. As we neared our blind, we noticed a light coming from it, and much to our surprise, we found a guy had camped out in our blind and was sleeping in it as we pulled up in the darkness! 

Well, needless to stay, everyone was surprised that morning! And, after a few choice words, the guy got his things together, left the blind, and area to us. We were setting out the decoys as the sun started to come up, shooting hours had just started. Once all the dekes were out, we pulled the boat up under the blind, unloaded the gear and passed it all up to Robbie in the blind, got everything arranged, coffee poured, and waited for the fog to lift so we could see the ducks that we could hear flying by. As soon as we could see well enough, the shooting began, first the Greenwinged Teal came into the blocks, we let them sit, wanting to hold off for the Mallards and Gadwalls. Then, when the first shots rang out, we literally had ducks flying everywhere, teal down low, and big ducks high. The shooting was fast and furious, rarely did we have to wait more than a few minutes without someone getting a good shot, and even when the fog finally left us, the ducks kept coming.

When we ended our hunt, we were only one duck short of three bag limits, but we were satisfied with the results, so we picked up our gear, and headed back to the house. The run home was much easier than the one out, with no fog to deal with, it only took us twenty minutes or so to make the run, unlike that morning, when it took us over a hour! But, like they say, all's well that ends well. Now, I wouldn't recommend anyone doing what we did that day, but in our case the need to duck hunt was stronger than self preservation. And, looking back on the whole ordeal, it was a wonder we got there at all, and maybe we should've waited the fog out, but the adventure was worth it! And that is one of the reasons we go out, for the adventure, and hey, a limit of ducks is just the icing on the cake!! So, till next time......Good Hunting! 


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