On Jan. 16, Brock Baudoin of New Iberia took friend Brennan Hebert duck hunting at Wax Lake Outlet just before Cajun country was about to enter into the grips of frigid Arctic temperatures.
“My buddy actually shot a banded blue-wing that day,” said Baudoin, 27, of New Iberia. “I was like, ‘You lucky dog. You come hunting with me and I bring you out here one time and you shoot a band.”
But hunting karma was on his side — he was about to become a lucky dog, too.
The very next day — Wednesday, Jan. 17 — he got invited to friend Andrew Patin’s lease in Vermilion Parish near Abbeville — and promptly shot an amazing looking leucistic white-headed mallard drake.
“We went to work that morning, but about 9 they decided to shut it down,” Baudoin said, referring to his job at Bayou Electric and the effects of icy roads in the area. “We got out there around lunchtime and the hunt was great. We should have had our limit of mallards, but we ended up with seven because we lost one.
“And we had two pintail and three spoonbills, plus a limit of specklebellies. It was a great hunt.”
Early on, Baudoin blasted the single mallard from a pit blind against the levee of a crawfish pond — but didn’t notice anything special when the duck was in the air.
“I couldn’t see it (the white head) until I walked up on it,” Baudoin said. “I really couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“I can’t even put it into words — it was just an exciting feeling, like shooting a Boone and Crockett buck or something.”
Patin also was incredulous when Baudoin returned to the blind with the white-headed bird.
“He was just as pumped as I was,” Baudoin said. “We were ecstatic.”
Larry Reynolds, waterfowl study leader with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, confirmed from the photo the specimen was a fully-plumed leucistic mallard drake.
“It’s an issue with pigments,” Reynolds said. “That’s pretty cool looking. It appears to have some mild leucism in its head.
“It’s like anything else: If you get off the couch and get out in the field, you’re going to see some cool stuff.”
Baudoin is getting the drake mounted sitting on a piece of cypress driftwood. And he’s OK now with his buddy’s banded teal out at the Wax.
“The next day I shot the mallard,” Baudoin said with a chuckle. “So I’m not mad about that anymore.”