LOWA Youth Journalism Contest winning essays

Ruston, Lafayette teens take top honors for 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association recently honored the winners of the 2013 Youth Journalism Contest at its conference in Lafayette. Students were encouraged to share their personal experiences from the outdoors, and judges selected four winners in both junior and senior divisions.

Here are the first place essays from each division. For a complete list of all winners and their essays, click here.

First Place – Senior Division

Story Moller, 17

Cedar Creek School



It was a cold morning, one of the those mornings when frost glittered on leaves and grass. The eastern horizon’s faint rays cast a dazzling show on the quiet, frozen swamp. The mirror-like sheen of the ice showed itself betwixt gaps in the towering cypress trees. At the base of several trees, steam rose slowly from in between brush and bracken. This steam issued forth from four men’s icy lips. They were barely visible in clothing that revealed no other colors than subdued hues of green and brown. Each of these men clutched at a shotgun whose barrels carefully stuck out of the twisted, dead vegetation. The steam and the gun barrels were the only two features distinguishable that gave a hint to the humans’ presence.

Under a particularly stunted and forlorn cypress tree, a smaller path of vapor drifted towards the cloudy, pink-streaked sky. It issued forth from a bush where concealed inside stood a young boy. the water reached to his skins, and he occasionally lifted his feet to keep the ice from encroaching around the rubber soles of his boots. Anticipation flooded the boy’s senses. This was his first time upon the flooded timber. The cold merely sharpened his straining eyes that searched the gloom hanging above him. His flushed, pink ears detected each distinct sound that invaded the surrounding stillness. His stiff hand grasped the fore-end of the small shotgun until his knuckles turned white.

A sudden flurry of wing beats caused the concealed watchers to jump with a start. The boy looked up with sudden excitement. Two dark bodies hurtled overhead with a whistling of feathers upon the cold, hard air. The light began to steadily increase as more black shapes sped past, twisting and diving through the treetop network. Then the relative quietness was shattered by a high-pitched squeal, followed by many answering calls. It was not light enough for the boy to make out the crisp colors of one of the flying pairs. One was a mottled brown, while her mate shone with a grace of colors that seemed only fit for the courts of kings. Blues, reds, greens and majestic maroons formed a sphere around the flying body. The two travelers dropped from their airborne venture and began drifting down to an ice-free spot in the water. The boy lifted his firearm to his shoulder and fired a single shot. The beautiful shape began to fall with an increased speed to the ground, while the other changed direction and soared upward.

The boy had done it. He had achieved his dream at last of harvesting this majestic wood duck. It was at that point in the boy’s life that he knew his way of life would forever be a part of him. The hunting tradition on that day ingrained itself into the now young man. He vowed that day to protect and honor this God-given right. He was forever changed after that day, and every chance he was given, he related his story to others so that they would be able to appreciate the time-honored tradition.

First Place – Junior Division

Kenneth “Kenny” Odinet, 13

Bendel Gardens Country Day Homeschool



The wind was coming 10 miles an hour out of the east, yet there were no whitecaps. It was one of the slowest weekends in Grand Isle I had ever fished. I was about to throw out my popping cork again when my dad said, “If you want, you can throw your soft plastics. Nothing’s biting so you might have some luck on that.” I then started throwing my chartreuse swim bait.

After about ten casts, I felt a large bump on the end of my line, my rod started to bend, so I set the hook on a nice 15 ½-inch trout. When I got the trout in the boat, I told my brother, who despises artificial lures, “Don’t talk bad about my plastics, I just caught the first fish.” He then responded by saying, “Do it again.”

Soon, after a quick move to Fifi Island, a couple of casts yielded a 16-inch trout. My little brother was amazed. He replied, “Good job.” My grandfather then decided to switch to a plastic under a popping cork.

A couple of minutes later, my brother got a trout on a live shrimp, so we decided to stay. Shortly after my brother got his trout, he started singing to himself while sitting on the top of the boat motor. He didn’t notice, but my grandfather, my dad and I were laughing at him.

After my brother caught his fish, I threw a couple of casts off the back of the boat and hooked my last trout of the day. Finally, after half an hour, my dad decided to pick up and go back to the camp.

This story makes me feel good about myself, because it was the first time I ever caught trout on artificial bait.

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