The Womack Journal: Forced into our boats

Editor’s Note: Warren Womack of Bluff Creek has kept a journal of every deer and turkey he killed since 1968. Going into the 2022-23 season, his lifetime count is at 387 deer and 93 turkeys. We share some of those delightful stories here as hunters prepare for another Louisiana deer season.

Bow kill #80, Dec. 13, 1982

With the Mississippi River in flood stage, Carrol Horn and myself are forced into hunting out of boats. From the landing it’s a 10 mile boat ride to my camp. The first part of the trip is an old river oxbow, then a slough. When we exit the slough, it’s a ride through fields and then woods. We both have small 12 foot bateaus, with small outboard motors. Sometimes the boat rides are at least as exciting as the hunts.

This oxbow lake is large and can get quite rough when the wind is out of the north. Another concern during the 45 minute trip is having to worry about unseen logs and underwater trees and bushes. Our boats are loaded down with equipment and supplies so we don’t have a lot of freeboard. The good thing is we’re actually able to tie the boat up within 30 yards of the camp.

For each hunt we leave the camp and motor through the woods to a flooded field then use a power line that leads us to an old river that we travel to the fields. Once we’re there we tie off and load up all our equipment for the mile walk across the bean field to the woods beyond for the hunt.

Yesterday, I killed and did my first field quartering. Lucky for me, Carrol didn’t get a shot, making it possible for me use his pack to carry the quarters and back straps to the boat. On today’s hunt I had brought my old Navy Seabag to use as a pack until I could get home and get one for myself. I had a lot of confidence in Carrol needing his pack for his own kill. I thought the Navy Seabag I had at the camp would work out just fine. I was wrong… very wrong.

We made one trip from the camp that lasted all day. On my second climb a doe came through and I shot her at 1:20 p.m. at 15 yards. I made a good shot and she only ran 65 yards. Carrol killed a spike and we field quartered them, then packed out the mile to the boat.

That pack out like to have killed me.

With my stand and spurs on my back, and bow in hand, there was no good way to get a hold on the bag. It was too bulky and long. When I tried to sling the strap over my shoulder, the meat in the bag would swing and bump my leg. Walking on the uneven ground was throwing me off balance.

I tried throwing the bag over my shoulder, but that didn’t work either…. I even drug it some. I had to fight for every step and I didn’t think I would ever get it to the boat. The longest mile of my life. It was a nightmare compared to when I had used Carrol’s pack the day before. All this time I was noticing how easy it was for him with a real pack.

I promised myself that I would get a pack before returning for another hunt, and I did just that. I never looked back and have continued to field quarter every deer since that day. As a side note, those hunts in the backwaters also required a lot of ingenuity. There’s a picture from those days that always draws a lot of attention of a three-wheeler winched up in the air. Why? The answer is easy. That’s the only way to keep it out of floodwaters in some seasons. When it isn’t needed, it’s stored out of harm’s way.

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