When the Notre Dame football players leave the locker room and head for the field they pass under a sign that reads, “Play like a champion today.”
This ritual helps inspire the players to leave it all on the field so they can be remembered as having given 110 percent.
Other teams have similar traditions the coaches use to help players focus on the task at hand and perhaps inspire them to play their best. It never hurts to use all available resources, including a lucky charm.
The sign at Notre Dame immediately came into my head as I picked up Mr. Bubbles to pack him away for the next garage sale.
Mr. Bubbles is a ceramic figurine of an old man sitting in a tub making bubbles from his rear end. It was given to me as a retirement gift by my brother — yes, he has a strange sense of humor — with the stipulation that the statue must be displayed in my office.
I love my brother and appreciate his thoughtfulness, so I put it out on the shelf in my office room; he stayed out for a while until my wife saw it one day and told me to put it away.
So, back into the box went Mr. Bubbles until the day I built my crude Camp David shack on our Clinton property. But then came the day I had to turn the shack into a storage building — and back into the tub went Mr. Bubbles until my wife found it and put it in her booth at an antique shop.
This whimsical old figurine went on sale for $1.
The shop flooded during the great flood of August, so back into the tub went Mr. Bubbles until the store reopened. He was up for sale the day they had their grand re-opening.
The Annual Old Farts Hunt in Union Parish was a week away and, as I looked at Mr. Bubbles, I knew immediately he should become our lucky charm for the hunt.
The hunt occurs on the family property of Larry Savage and involves several of us old Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries retired biologists.
Many of you remember Larry when he was the state DMAP biologist and the turkey biologist before he retired. Mike Olinde, Fred Kimmel, Jimmy Emfinger and I participate in the hunt.
It is a time for old friends to get together and fellowship, and hopefully shoot a deer or two so Mike can get some sausage for the year. Mike is a bird hunter and does not hunt deer too much, so our orders from Larry are simply to shoot deer.
We all had a good laugh over Mr. Bubbles, and our ritual included rubbing his bald head and repeating the phrase, “Farts and bubbles.”
Four deer were harvested that afternoon, so we were all elated about the good fortune Mr. Bubbles provided.
The next morning, the ritual was repeated, and Fred bagged a nice Union Parish 8-pointer.
No deer were harvested that evening, but we had a great fish fry and talked politics. Little did we know the TV actually worked and we could have been watching the election returns.
Our last hunt on Wednesday morning ended with Jimmy killing an adult 5-point, another bubble in the tub for our good luck charm.
I left Union Parish and headed east to Benton to make a Thursday morning hunt with my friend Ken on his lease in Bossier Parish.
The rut in Area 2 was beginning to crank up. Ken had harvested a nice 6-point, and was seeing other bucks making scrapes and looking for does.
I introduced Ken to Mr. Bubbles, who made the trip with us to the lease.
Ken has two box stands, and I was hunting the No. 2 stand. I had made several scent setups using Code Blue Doe Urine.
At daylight a racked buck came out into the right of way and stood there. I could see the beams of the buck but could not count points.
It went to the first scent setup, and then headed into the woods.
I began grunting about every 10 minutes. Thirty minutes later I had just finished calling when an 8-point stepped out into the right of way and began angling toward me about 70 yards away.
The Remington 783 dropped it in its tracks — a nice 3½-year-old piney woods 8.
Two days later I was on Pearl River WMA with Mark Bible for the opening of the primitive deer season. Naturally, Mr. Bubbles made the boat ride with us up the river and stayed in the boat as we made their way into the morning darkness.
At daylight, I had a pig feeding under a cow oak tree and the .444 put it down. A short while later Mark had a pig on the ground.
While Mr. Bubbles seems to be a great good-luck hunting charm, the reality is that smart hunting made for success on all these hunts.
The land we hunted in Union Parish is owned by Larry and his family, and he manages the timber on these tracks. He, of course, wants the land to provide income for the family members but they also are interested in wildlife and hunting. So they try to maintain a good stand of marketable pine but also keep the hardwood component intact because this is the drawing card for wildlife.
Much of the land surrounding their tracts of timber is dominant commercial pine timber that is not too productive for deer. Their forested tracts have an abundance of white oak trees that produced a good crop of acorns this year, and Larry put us on stands where deer were coming to eat acorns.
No need to waste money on corn when Mother Nature provides the food.
Ken and I knew the first breeding peak was taking place on his Area 2 lease, so we made use of this knowledge and went into the offensive mode of hunting, using deer scents and calls that worked to my advantage.
On Pearl River, Mark and I knew there was a good crop of cow oak acorns this year, so we set up at sites trees were dropping nuts.
While a little luck does help when hunting, some savvy helps ensure success most of the time. Knowing where game is feeding, understanding the biology of the game you are hunting and then spending time on the stand when weather conditions are right will generally put meat in the freezer — and if you are lucky, perhaps some antlers on the wall.
The rut should be on in Areas 1 and 6 for you late season hunters. Hunt hard, be safe and Happy New Year.