Whoosh. Something flew close to us and vanished.
“What was that?” whispered my daughter-in-law as we stood in a blind in Lulu’s Marsh, Louisiana last September.
Our guide, Ed, said, “That…was a teal.”
We had just been buzzed by the first of many teal, flying at Mach duck speed on a recon mission at first light.
Perhaps, on second thought, taking a new waterfowl hunter out onto a marsh for what is nature’s zippiest species of duck was not the best idea, but then again, my daughter-in-law has never been one to turn down a challenge. Besides, I wanted her to experience for the first time the beauty of a marsh and camaraderie of women on a duck hunt.
We call my daughter-in-law “Tee Bird.” She hails from the West Bank of the Big Easy and is perfectly adept in her family’s fishing camps. She is, however, new to hunting. Two years ago she tagged her first whitetail and also got a heck of a scope bite in the process, yet she’s persevered. I knew she would be on her game in the duck blind.
We joined eight other women from around the country at a hunt hosted by Louisianan Becky Lou Lacock, of Becky Lou Outdoors.
Becky has been planning and hosting hunts for women for several years now, and gets tremendous support from her buddies in Lake Arthur at L’Banca Albergo Hotel and Doug’s Hunting Lodge, along with the tourism commission of Jeff Davis Parish, to provide an excellent, yet affordable, two-day women’s teal hunt. In fact, she dubs it “Teal Hunt for Tenacious Women.”
This was the fourth year of the gathering. I had been on last year’s hunt, and that’s when I knew it had to be experienced by a new waterfowl hunter. After all, what better way to learn something new than to be in a group of supportive and, frankly, funny women?
About the most exciting thing that happened the first day was when the aforementioned teal swooped down and graced us with a wing flap at dawn. After that, a few flew in as the temperature soared. By 9 a.m., we’d downed five total, and since we could each have six birds in our limit, we were a little disappointed. We hadn’t many opportunities, and really, neither one of us felt sure that we’d been the ones hitting the birds. Often, when duck hunting, the guide will shoot, too. We didn’t mind that Ed shot, but we also didn’t really know if we’d hit any birds.
That was no fault of our shotguns, though. I chose Remington’s Versa Max semi-auto is because I knew it would shoot again and again and again, even if we dropped it in the mud. I’ve shot this gun on turkey hunts and I really like the balance of it and the fact that it handles 12-gauge rounds from 2-3/4 to 3-1/2 inches. Its Versa Port gas system regulates the cycling pressure and reduces felt recoil of a standard 12 gauge load to that of a 20 gauge, which really appealed to me because of my newbie hunter and because, more than likely, we’d be shooting a ton of shells.
We went out to what our guide, Rick, said was probably the worst blind in the worst place of the marsh. We weren’t to expect much, because the weather had been too still and no fronts had blown through. We hoped for the best, but expected another five-bird day…if we were lucky.
And then, the heavens opened and the birds flew in—in droves. In one volley, we downed six birds out of about 10. Rick said he only shot at one that had been hit and was flying away. Tee Bird took two birds during one volley. She realized it, too, and that’s when she came on fire with that shotgun. She told me it felt like an extension of her body, and she reached out and brought down the teal again and again. By 9 a.m. we had our limits.
It’s always dramatic to see the sun come up on the marsh, and to hear ducks such as squealers and wood ducks fly in formations overhead, but we had even more drama when Rick’s lab, ’Peake, set out to retrieve a duck at the same time that Rick spied a huge alligator going after the same duck. Let’s just say that things got a little tense. Fortunately, Rick was able to push the alligator away with a pole, instead of having to fire his gun.
Rick said we were the best bunch of shooters he’d had out so far this season.
Tee Bird’s Teal Report
I asked Tee Bird some questions about the hunt, and her answers are revealing to anyone who’s considering hunting.
What did you expect?
“I knew what to expect on the marsh, because my family’s gone on duck hunts and I’ve heard them talk about it. I didn’t know that we’d be standing up in a tall box, like a toy box. It was kind of scary in the airboats on the marsh in the dark, but I trusted the guides.”
Why did you think you’d like duck hunting?
“Because I like skeet shooting. I was surprised, though, at how fast they flew.”
Why do you think women would be drawn to this type of hunting?
“It’s such a male-dominated sport and I think a lot of women want to put themselves into what men do, because they want to see if they can do it…my girlfriends were impressed, and one of them showed a photo of a duck hunter to her young son, and now she wants to learn to hunt ducks and bring him along when he’s older.”
Do you have a sore shoulder?
“The only time I felt any kick was when a bird came in faster than I expected and I didn’t position the gun correctly.”
Would you go duck hunting again?
“Definitely for teal; they’re fast and a challenge. But I would definitely like to hunt bigger ducks, too.”
When not duck hunting, we visited a rum distillery, held baby alligators, took a long pontoon ride searching for big ones. And the food! We got our fill of Cajun and seafood dishes, thanks to several great chefs in the community.
For details about this and other women-only hunts, visit Becky Lou Outdoors.