Cajun culture influence on duck hunting gets national TV exposure

The Outdoor Channel’s “The Fowl Life” host, Chad Belding, right, smiles as he holds a strap full of ducks after a duck hunt Nov. 15 with GatorTail Outboards co-founders Blaine Broussard, left, and his son, Kyle Broussard. They hunted in the marsh west of Pecan Island. (Photo by Don Shoopman)

When some of the best duck hunting in Louisiana and two outdoorsmen who revolutionized getting to the duck blind with GatorTail Outboards met this waterfowl season, it was, well… made for TV hunting.

The tie-in was natural for visiting TV host Chad Belding, whose show is the No. 1 rated series on The Outdoors Channel. The Sparks, Nevada, resident and entrepreneur filmed the episode of “The Fowl Life” during opening week of the 2022-23 duck hunting season in the Sportsman’s Paradise.

Belding’s focus was on the Cajun culture’s influence on duck hunting in the marsh west of Pecan Island. The cable television host stayed with GatorTail Outboards co-owners Kyle Broussard and his father, Blaine Broussard, both of Loreauville, at their camp to hunt ducks on one of their West Zone leases.

Belding, a competitive duck and goose caller in the late 1990s, craved the taste of Cajun food as much as he wanted to hunt southwest Louisiana for the first time in 14 seasons as host of the “The Fowl Life.” He got his wish for the former soon after he stepped off a jet at Lafayette Regional Airport.

First, some boudin

The 48-year-old former collegiate baseball player wondered aloud where he could get his hands on some boudin. Charles Judice of Arnaudville, a Loreauville native and close friend of Kyle Broussard, knew just where to go and delivered in the clutch.

Judice treated the Broussards, Belding, et al, to supper at Camp GatorTail Outboards, the Broussards’ camp along Louisiana 82 near Pecan Island. He pleased every taste bud in the camp with an elk and pork smothered sausage with a side of seared teal breast and white beans.

For sure, he found it’s the land of the Holy Trinity — onion, celery and green pepper. It’s also the land well-known for waterfowl hunting.

Belding has hunted ducks in the state many times, mostly at Honey Brake Lodge in north Louisiana, but never in southwest Louisiana or with the Broussards. The reason he chose Cajun Country, he said, was his relationship with them and partnership with their worldwide brand.

“Nothing cements a friendship or partnership more than when you share time in a duck blind,” he said. “What I really wanted to do is walk in their shoes, their hunting, what we’re doing the last couple of days, the next couple of days.

“I like the way Kyle does business. They have a reputation behind them. I got a chance to put his motor on a boat. I was up in the backwaters of the White River in Arkansas when the river got out of its banks. I fell in love with the boat that day. It’s a better experience … a smooth operation. I like the get up and go, the safety of the boat. The ability of the motor. I would bet I have driven it in more states than he (Kyle Broussard) has.”

Belding, 48, was accompanied on the duck hunts by cameramen Jack Orlandi and Eli Neeley, both of Reno, Nevada, carrying equipment worth as much as $70,000 for one camera. Orlandi and Neeley drove down earlier with filming equipment, hunting gear and Axl, Belding’s 5-year-old black Lab.

Axl was ready

As Belding walked out of the camp before sunrise Nov. 15, Axl bounded ahead of him. He said the retriever was in for some fun.

The Broussards and Belding’s Benelli Super Black Eagle III 12-gauge shotguns roared as teal dropped by, conveniently coinciding perfectly with the start of legal shooting hours. The day dawned with leaden gray skies, high northerly winds and temps in the 40s.

Chad Belding prepares lunch Nov. 15 at Camp GatorTail Outboards after a long morning duck hunt in the nearby marsh. (Photo by Don Shoopman)

Belding was in his element. Ditto for the Broussards, each picking the best duck call for the moment, shouldering a shotgun, leading, then dropping his share of migratory birds.

At one point later that morning, his eyes catching another bunch of ducks, Belding said, “We’re about to get some teal. Make it happen, Kyle. Do some of that Louisiana stuff.”

They were duck hunting in a GatorTail Quack Shack, a floating duck blind built by the Broussards at their plant in Loreauville. Ricky Nicholas of Lafayette, Louisiana Army National Guard recruiting manager and diehard waterfowler, delivered the cameramen to the Quack Shack, then brought Judice and an outdoor writer to another smaller duck blind about 10 minutes from Belding and the Broussards.

The idea for an efficient air-cooled, surface drive outboard motor consumed Kyle Broussard as he studied mechanical engineering at UL-Lafayette. His senior project, which detailed his plans, earned an “A.”

The rest is history. His father, also an engineer, assisted in the design. The new “mud motors” were introduced as GatorTail Outboards in 2004. Eventually, that’s what brought Belding to Cajun Country.

“I think I was made an honorary Cajun,” he said, proudly.

About Don Shoopman 502 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply