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NOTHING LIKE THE DUCK HUNT THANKFUL FOR THE GREAT OUTDOORS—AND A GREAT HUNTING PARTNER
What are you thankful for? There’s great cause to have gratitude, especially this month. I’m grateful for the beautiful November weather. I’m grateful for my family, which is the light of my life. And, I’m grateful for football, because what kind of Louisiana man would I be if I wasn’t? One thing I’m especially grateful for every fall is duck hunting. I grew up in Oakdale, which means I had plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. When you’re out in the elements and away from the city noise, you really find yourself. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” One of my favorite activities, ever since I could hold a gun, was the fall duck hunt. Louisiana’s legacy of waterfowl hunting is well-documented. We even got international attention for it starting in 2012, when “Duck Dynasty” hit the airwaves. Love or hate the show, you can’t deny it — there’s no better place on Earth to create a duck call business than the Pelican State. Wideopenspaces.com rates Venice as the No. 2 place to duck hunt in the U.S., right behind Chesapeake Bay. For my money, it ought to be No. 1. The Chenier Plain is a generous area when it comes to all waterfowl. There’s nothing I love more than stepping out of the truck, zipping up my green and brown camouflage jumpsuit, tucking my boots in, and hitting the creeks and tall weeds, lying in wait. We see everything from gadwalls to green-winged teal around here. With a little patience and a decent aim, it’s not difficult to bring home several birds. I’m also lucky to have a legal partner who doubles as a hunting partner. The other Craig and I have spent long hours on weekends scouring for ducks. As you can see in the picture, we had a pretty
great haul earlier this year. I won’t tell you who the better shot is.
Around here, we see Thanksgiving turkey as a type of delicacy, especially if it’s deep-fried. I’m all about having turkey on Thanksgiving, but you know what tastes better? Something you hunt for yourself. Deep-fried turkey and crawfish aside, there’s no greater Louisiana delicacy than a nice gadwall I brought down, cleaned, and dressed myself.
It’s a good year to do it, too, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They estimate there’s 47.3 million breeding ducks in the country, the fifth largest
amount on record. Obviously, a huge chunk of them will be in Louisiana. People are reporting excellent numbers at hunts around the state (except for teals, but I’m not bothered). This Thanksgiving, once the table is cleared and people are sitting around the den, enjoying each other’s company and occasionally nibbling at leftovers, I hope you feel the same sense of gratitude as I do. We’ve had our food and football, and we will always have our family — and, hopefully, our hunting partners too.
Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving,
–Cra ig Jon e s
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