My hubby, Rick and his brother, Robbin spent many years duck hunting before I decided to try it out. They hunted at the McFaddin Wildlife Refuge at Sabine Pass. It's about a 30-40 minute drive from Beaumont. The deal was though that you had to call and reserve a spot. There were only 6 spots available. (Actually, now that I am thinking about it, there may have been a few more spots, but THE spot they wanted was Number 6) You couldn't call until 8 am on Friday Morning to be able to hunt on either Saturday or Sunday. So, we all had the number in our cell phones and at 7:59 Friday morning, we'd begin calling, using all 3 cells and the house phone. It was quite a challenge because it was busy signal after busy signal after busy signal. We'd all have the speaker phones on and it was a crazy few minutes until one of us heard an actual ring. Inevitably, they'd get a spot (most time they got the coveted Number 6 spot) for both days. This went on for several years.
OK so they'd get out there and one day hubby comes home with a banded duck. I called them and they sent the certificate on the duck back. It was from Stowell, Texas. That isn't that far away. But he added that band to the lanyard that holds his duck calls. He was very proud of it!
So after a few years of dove hunting with them, they decided that *I* needed to get out there and duck hunt with them. For some reason, Robbin couldn't go the day I planned on going so it was just me and hubby. That Friday, we did the calling, but missed out on Number 6 by one phone call. Anyhow, Saturday morning, we got up at the GodAwful hour of 2:30 to head down to Sabine Pass. Remember now, I wasn't used to this getting up early stuff.
We parked along the edge of the road on Highway 87 where our spot was. After loading up decoys, shotguns, jackets, backpacks, thermos, sunglasses, little stools to sit on, and some snacks, we headed off into the marsh. I was wearing waders and so was hubby. We had lights built into our hats. It was cold that morning.(Cold is a relative thing in Southeast Texas - Here, anything below 60° is cold to me and it must have been in the low 40's. Yeah, just call me Wuss and I'll answer!!
He was carrying most of the gear, but I was doing pretty good with a back pack and my shotgun and extra shells. We walked, and walked, and then walked some more. The water got up pretty high, but I had on waders and it was fairly warm inside them. I stepped on something and it moved. It's pitch dark all around me, except for where the light was shining. I said to him, are there alligators out here? He said, Nah, they are hibernating. I thought.... ok... no problem. That must have been a log. We walked and we walked, through at least knee deep water and reeds and God only knows what else (since I couldn't see much). Finally, he says to me, this is it. There in front of me (from what I can see in the dark) is this tiny island.... we're talking about 20 ft. big around. THIS IS IT????? I'm thinking he was lucky to have found this little bitty spot of land in the dark!
Anyhow, we sat there and got ourselves situated. He put the decoys out and it's now pretty close shooting time. We can hear ducks flying in, I load my gun, but it's not quite time yet. My heart is pounding in my chest with anticipation. I just know there's gonna be a big pot of duck gumbo on the stove this afternoon! I can almost smell it!
Finally he says we can shoot. But there is nothing to shoot at. Not one single duck was in the vicinity of this little island we were sitting on. We'd hear plenty of shotgun blasts off to the side, but there were no ducks within range of us. Evidently, they'd ALL flown over to NUMBER 6!!!!!!
A couple of hours pass. We hear geese in the distance. He tells me to keep my head down and don't look up no matter what I hear. He begins to call the geese. They are coming in. I can practically hear the flap of their wings. Again, my heart begins to pound. Goose is good in gumbo too!
The sun is up higher (It's probably about 85-90° and the heat inside of those neoprene waders is making me sweat. I can feel the sweat in my eyes and know there's no way I'm going to be able to aim and shoot a goose. Suddenly they are directly overhead and he says to me NOW! And we raise our guns and both of us miss the shot. UGGGGGGHH!!!!
Well the heat was too much and it was time to pack it up and head back to the truck anyway. So he goes out to pick up the decoys while I gather up the gear. We begin heading back and I take notice of the surroundings now that I can really see. We're walking back through the knee high water. I have to lift my legs up high to keep my feet from getting sucked into the mud below. My inner thighs were killing me. We'd walk a few yards and I'd have to stop. I just knew we were gonna have to call Air Rescue to come and get me! He told me to hand him my shotgun. He's already got the decoys, his shotgun, and a big backpack. By now, the bag of decoys is floating along beside him. I tell him I can do this.... just don't be in a hurry. He was so patient with me. I could see the truck..... just a speck.... a loooooooooong ways away. I prayed I'd make it before the alligators came out of hibernation!
It took almost an hour to get back to the truck. I'm sitting in the seat while he's trying to peel those waders off me. A truck pulls up on the other side of our truck. A guy hollers over to Rick and says, Did you all see that 14 foot gator out there? He was headed your way! ARRRRGGHHHH Hibernation huh? Yeah Right!!!!! I probably kicked him on the way in!
We stopped and got a burger on the way home. Needless to say, there was no gumbo that night. (sigh)
In hindsight though, it was a good trip. It taught me that if I could endure that walk, Number 6 would be a breeze!!!!!
This photo is one of many that were taken out at the McFaddin Wildlife Refuge. It's not the spot we were at, but as you can see, it's a beautiful place to duck hunt.