Tim Clark started duck hunting with a 20-gauge Remington 870 Express Magnum when he was just 10 years old, and finally shot his first and only banded duck — a mallard hen — back in 2005.
Now 32 years old, the operator for Citgo in Sulphur ended his 11-year band drought with a bang on the last day of the Coastal Zone’s first split when he bagged two banded wood duck drakes within about an hour of each other on Lacassine Bayou.
“The weird thing about it was me and my brother-in-law, Ryan Duplichan, were like, ‘Man, how come we never kill any ducks with bands out here?” said Clark, of South Lake Charles. “That was the day before, and then sure enough — two in one day.”
An avid hunter, the morning of Dec. 4 was Clark’s 13th hunt of the first split from his platform blind on the bayou north of the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge.
The first drake came in alone, and Clark blasted it — but didn’t see what adorned its leg when it was retrieved by Bella, his golden Lab.
“I didn’t notice it right away,” he said. “I had a few more birds come in, then I finally started looking at them because that’s just something I do.
“I told Ryan, ‘This one’s got jewelry on it ….’”
“A little while later, we had another single drake come in and boom, I dropped it,” Clark said. “We kind of just weren’t paying attention to it and checked it and sure enough, the second one was banded.
“Two bands in one hunt. I was like, ‘No way.’”
The men continued hunting, eventually taking down a two-man limit including woodies, scaup, teal and a Mexican whistling duck.
Clark contacted the phone number on the bands, and found out both drakes were hatched and banded in 2015 — one in Gueydan in Vermilion Parish, and the second in Barlow, Ky.
Unfortunately, his No. 2 shot wasn’t kind to the woodies, so they didn’t make it to the taxidermist.
“They’re going in the crockpot or the roaster,” he said with a chuckle. “We already cleaned them. They were pretty bad off and wouldn’t be able to go on the wall.”
But both bands are already proudly displayed on his duck call lanyard as a reminder of a hunt he'll never forget — even if he won’t be in the blind when the second split opens this Saturday morning, Dec. 17.
“I have to work,” Clark said. “I tried to do several shift swaps, but nobody wanted to swap with me.