Celebrating 50 years of duck hunting

I have been so thankful to get to share my passion for preserving the old ways of Louisiana duck hunting each month in Louisiana Sportsman magazine this season. I hope it inspires others to do the same.

This season has been one for the ages. A low water situation left our floating blinds on dry land, making us get out of the  boat and wade in the knee deep mud to get to the blind.

But for the most part, we killed ducks throughout the whole season. This will make my 50th duck season and 50 years I have been hunting with my best friend, David Roy. My five-year-old grandson got to kill his first duck this year and I got to make several good hunts with him. Being an old school hunter, I’m always shooting old guns. My favorite is my Winchester 1897 made in 1915. I also shot my Stevens single shot Long Tom with its 36-inch barrel.

Thanks, Mr. Woody

There were a few hunts when we focused on wood ducks (we call them Woodrow or Mr. Woody), because that’s all we had. One morning we had about eight wood ducks flying in the fog.

I gave them a call and they made two big circles and came over the decoys broke. My boy, Coty, made a triple and my ole Long Tom crushed the fourth one. We ended up with our limit blowing very soft and I owe a little credit to my cypress root jerk string. It has good slow movement that really helps on weary birds. That was a great end to a great first split and there’s nothing better than shooting an ole single shot Long Tom gun.

Another highlight of our year was hunting for specks in Arkansas. After that hunt, I decided to make my own personal old school bamboo speck call. I think I might have the only Handmade Cane Speck call on the market. I much rather an old traditional call to hunt with, keeping it old school. I will not be making them for the public, but time will tell in the long run. I want to thank On The Deck Outfitters of Brinkley, Arkansas, for putting us on the specks.

Spreading the word

I’m a hunter, not a speaker. But I was glad to be invited along with my good friend, Keith Dupuy, to speak at the Roy House in Lafayette as part of a project called “The Sportsman’s Paradise in a Changing Environment,” in partnership with the Bayou Culture Collaborative. Dupuy is a boat historian and has done plenty restoration projects. He talked about the history on Louisiana boats from the last 200 years.

I gave a talk on the history of duck calls in Louisiana, along with dugout pirogues, market hunting and plenty other topics. This is a small and important part of keeping some of our heritage alive. It was a great evening and I was very humbled to share a few stories.

As we bring the old school season to a close, I have one more thing to share. I am very proud of young Nicholas Lemoine for seeing though with his project to build a dugout pirogue from scratch. We started by harvesting the tree and he’s doing all the work. I know only a couple of people that know how to do this in Louisiana, and they are around 80 years old. This is becoming a lost tradition and I am so proud to keep it alive through Nicholas. He is making an old Colonial French style dugout.

One more reminder

I have one more reminder, too. And it goes back to the old ways. Never shoot any ducks that you don’t intend to use. We either eat every duck we kill, or we package them up and take them to folks that can’t hunt anymore and haven’t had the privilege or ability to hunt ducks. That’s the old way and a good way to continue, too. Helping others never gets old.

We use them in gumbo, duck stews and love to just smoke and grill them as well. There’s nothing like fresh duck meat to make the hunt complete.

Friends, I love teaching about the old ways and I encourage you to pass this along, too. Between family, friends and old guns, it has been such a great season, one with plenty of memories that we have made. That’s what I live for.

And it’s an important part of being a duck hunter, old school or not.

Editor’s Note: We will be sharing a series of articles from Dale Bordelon, a resident of Effie, La., and owner of Bayou Beast Duck Calls. He is dedicated to make sure the old ways are passed on and not forgotten.