The 2020-21 Louisiana waterfowl season will go down as one most will forget. Aerial survey counts found below average numbers of birds holding in the state, and fewer birds in January than December.
As usual, though, there were some bright spots and decent hunting to be had when hunters were found to be at the right place at the right time. Count Todd Couvillion of Darrow in that group, being in the right place at the right time.
Sharing a blind with his brother, Paul, and nephew, Mitch, on a warm late-January morning in an Avoyelles Parish rice field, Couvillion was at the ready when a rare bird came swinging in.
“She broke off a group of about 20 other green wings,” Couvillion said. “She whipped around from the back and came out front where I shot her.”
Clearly, luck was completely on his side that day, as the veteran hunter missed on his first shot, and later found that the second shot that downed the bird only connected with a single pellet to the head.
Indeed, the bird was once in a lifetime for the Bunkie area native, who has moved around over the years but has hunted the area his whole life, including 16 years on the current farm.
A quick check with Paul Link, North American Waterfowl Management Plan Coordinator with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, confirmed the identity of the bird as that of a leucistic green-winged teal. According to Link, though not as white in coloration, or as rare, as an albino specimen, the leucistic or “blonde” condition is indicative of the melanin or natural colorations of the bird being disrupted. As a result, the feathers appear largely pale with only minimal coloration. Link indicated that he encounters only 1-2 of such birds a year during his banding work, but will get reports from his peers of a few more.
For Couvillion, who’s admittedly not been one for having birds mounted over the years, this one’s certainly special and headed to the taxidermist.
“Out of thousands of ducks killed in my life, this will be my very first duck mount,” he said.
Prior to this, only a specklebelly goose and a blue goose had been deemed mount-worthy.
The rare bird should make for a great piece to memorialize the morning with family in the blind. For Couvillion, though it was a slow season for total birds harvested, it was certainly one to remember. He took a banded blue-winged teal earlier in the season, and even had a shell go off in his pocket without injury. Given the rare teal finding his blind to cap off the season, Couvillion might want to spring for a lottery ticket next.