Monday, November 16, 2009

Duck Day

Today started off warm. I didn't need a jacket. By midday, the temps were in the '60s and dropping. I was outside when the wind turned and I remembered a day like this many years ago.

I was a teenager, under the driving age and for some reason, both Dad and I were off that day. He got up, looked at the weather map then started gathering his hunting gear. He told me to get the hip boots and get ready, we were going duck hunting.

Our family had three blinds on Catfish Prairie, a marshy lake on the southwest part of the Catahoula Marsh. We hunted those blinds every weekend, but this was the first time we were leaving the house after 8:00. On the way to the lake, Dad told me that a front would pass before noon and if we were in the blind we'd get a limit quickly. Sure enough, we got to the blind about 10:00 and settled in. In about an hour we could see the line of clouds that signaled the frontal passage. Then the ducks came, Lesser Scaup, locally called butterball ducks, wrapped us up. They had been flying hard from Arkansas and wanted a place to set down for the afternoon. We took our limits, four each, in as many minutes, then settled in to watch the birds for a while.

Mallards, pintails, scaup, teal, they buzzed around us and landed in the shallow lake. We left about two o'clock, with ducks flushing, flaring, and flying all around us.

The water is high on Catahoula lake right now and Catfish Prarie has long been leased by timber companies to other folks who could afford the lease fees. I haven't been on the Prairie since 1976, but I bet the ducks had it wrapped up today. With the wind blowing like it did this afternoon, the open water of the big lake wouldn't have been a good place to be in a flat bottomed boat, but the little bays and slews and prairies would have been full of ducks.

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