After surviving the 2015-16 hunting season, a flock of ducks in Avoyelles Parish was apparently taken out by a most unlikely source — a lightning strike during severe weather that rumbled through the area Monday morning.
Brandon Burke, 29, said he found a dead pintail drake in his front yard on the outskirts of Mansura around 11 a.m.
“About 10 o’clock, it was storming at the house and I looked outside and you couldn’t see anything,” he said. “It finally calmed down and I went outside to my shop and my yard was flooded. I went to the front yard to check on the flooding, and I see something white toward my neighbor’s.
“What I was seeing was the belly. I said, ‘Man, that looks like a duck.’ Sure enough, when I got to it, it was a drake pintail belly up. When I flipped him over, his feathers were marked from his head along his neck to his back. I smelled him and it was burnt.”
It’s just not everyday you find a dead duck in your front yard, and Burke initially didn’t know what to make of the drake — even though he suspected lightning all along.
“My neighbor wasn’t home and I knew he doesn’t have any ducks,” he said. “There wasn’t any blood, and my dog was in his house penned up with the storm. You could see where he hit the ground there were feathers.”
He contacted two enforcement agents with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries who are buddies of his to tell them about his discovery.
“He said to look for some more,” Burke said. “Usually the whole flock gets hit. I looked all over the yard and the pastures on the side of me, and didn’t see any more.”
But a couple of hours later, Burke started receiving pictures and reports of other ducks found in the area, including a spoonbill drake in Long Bridge and a second pintail drake found almost 6 miles away in Moreauville.
“I guess the whole flock got hit and the storm threw them all over,” said Burke, who duck hunts on nearby Lake Pearl Hunting Club.
Larry Reynolds, the state’s waterfowl study leader for the LDWF, said although it’s rare, ducks are susceptible to lightning strikes.
“It’s been documented a number of times, and obviously the game wardens have seen it,” Reynolds said. “It definitely happens. It just never ends for ducks — there’s always something that can possibly hit them.”
Burke, with the Louisiana Air National Guard at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, said the pintail is in his freezer, and he plans on getting it mounted to remember the day it started raining ducks in Avoyelles Parish.
“I had heard of it happening before, but I had never seen that or known anybody that’s found a duck like that,” he said. “I feel bad for him. It’s a pretty pintail. He’s fully bloomed. I don’t know how old he is, but the blue on his beak is beautiful.
“It’s going to be something nice to hang on the wall. They’ll say, ‘You killed that?’ I’ll say, ‘No, I found him.’ It will be a better story like that.”