West’s World: The hunts of a lifetime
I don’t know about you, but for me, when hunting season rolls around I can’t help but begin to reminisce about my most enjoyable hunting excursions.
At the top of my list of my most memorable hunts is when I killed my first duck. It was a blue winged teal, which I killed during a youth hunt at Crooked Creek when I was 12 years old.
I had gone hunting earlier that season with my dad Quint and paw-paw Bill, but I was more of just a spectator at that time. When the second youth day of the season arrived, my dad and I loaded up the boat and trekked to our duck blind on the open waters of Crooked Creek.
On our ride to the blind, I can just remember thinking, “Ok, now it’s my turn.” I was determined to finally be the one making the feathers fly.
If I’m being honest, I don’t even remember how many I killed during that hunt. It was maybe two or three ducks. But, I definitely remember the first one I filled with BBs.
A small group of teal flew over our blind, and I can remember my dad, who was the only person with me on this hunt, telling me “don’t move, don’t move. Some teal are right in front of us.”
My dad then started blowing his duck call as I got my gun ready for the opportunity to claim my first kill. As soon as the teal lit in the decoys in front of our blind, I got in position, put the bead at the end of the barrel of my brand new camouflage 20 gauge shot gun my parents had just bought me, and I waited for my dad’s que to light ‘em up.
When my dad said, “take ‘em,” I pulled the trigger and one duck in that group was mine. That was the start of my love affair with the great outdoors.
From there on, when I was able to wake up earlier enough, I would go hunting with my dad and my paw-paw Bill. My grandfather, who passed away in June of 2017, was an avid hunter, so my memories with him and my dad in a duck blind are ones I will never forget.
Even the small things have so much meaning. Like when it became a ritual to unpack all of our gear once we made it to the blind, only to hand me all of the gun cases for me to layout and sleep on until daylight broke.
My paw-paw was never really the gift giving kind of guy. That has always been my grandmother’s job. Therefore, one of the greatest days of my life was when my paw-paw Bill showed up at my parents’ house with a Mojo flapper duck in hand specifically for me. At that moment, I then felt like a real hunter who even had the approval from a man who truly knew what the sport was all about.
My memories of hunting with my dad and paw-paw are very sentimental to me, but the funniest hunting story I have has to be the time me and my older brother Aaron hunted on my parents’ property located just south of Pine Prairie. Oh, how I will never forget that day.
It was a November hunt with temperatures in the upper 60’s. There’s a pond on my parents’ property, but unlike today, at the time of this hunt there was no blind. Therefore, we set up some chairs in some natural brush that was along the levee of the pond.
For the entire time we were out there, only one group flew over us and without any effort on our part, the ducks lit in the decoys.
At that moment, we crawled up the levee with our guns as quietly as possible, laid on our stomachs, got our guns in position and prepared to shoot. When it was all said and done we only killed one duck. But, what happened next is really what made this one of the most hilarious hunts I had ever been on.
After we had packed everything up except for my gun a single duck came flying over our pond and lit right in the center of the decoys. My brother freaked out and started quietly saying to me, “get down, Elizabeth.” So that’s what I did.
We watched the duck for a hot minute, before my brother said to me, “Elizabeth, I think that’s a redhead.”
Honestly, I just looked at him and said, “A what?” So, he said it again. Then I told him, “I have no clue what that means.” He finally proceeded to tell me that it’s a pretty cool duck, and we definitely wanted to try to kill it.
In true Aaron fashion, he wanted me to give him my gun because he had already put his up. But, after he told me how cool it would be to kill this duck, I was so not willing to do that. We bickered for a second before he conceded and said, “Fine, but if you miss, hurry and hand me your gun.”
I took the first shot, and, although I didn’t miss, I only crippled the redhead. So I then handed the gun to Aaron, and he finished him off.
After we killed the duck, we realized we were going to have to put the boat back in the water, which we really didn’t feel like doing. So, instead, Aaron decided he would just swim to get the duck.
I don’t think he thought the water would be as cold as it actually was; however, the shrieking sounds he made the entire time he swam to get that duck had me laughing so hard that I’m pretty sure I began to cry.
I am pretty sure that was the dumbest hunting decision we ever made, but it also was the funniest. Killing the duck was fun, but retrieving it may have even been better.
We definitely got that redhead mounted. And, now every tine I see it at my parents’ house, I can’t help by chuckle a little when I think about just how crazy my brother was to actually swim to get that duck. Thank goodness he did though, because his experience has made for one heck of a memory and lots of laughs.
Now, it’s time for another hunting season that I am sure will bring me even more unforgettable moments that will last me a lifetime.