An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 1-22-2014

by Mark Walters

Deep South Hunting Trip

One of the things that I really enjoy about the hit TV show “Duck Dynasty” is the love for family, friends, and God. The other is that it is centered on hunting and filmed in Louisiana. Well folks, I used to live in Louisiana, worked on the Mississippi River as a deckhand and in 1987 put 980-miles behind me in a canoe while trying to canoe up the “Muddy Mississippi”!

 What really hits home is that my brother, Tom and his wife Laurie and their children have lived there since the late ‘70s. Tom Walters works for Exxon and like myself is addicted to hunting and fishing.

This week I am writing about a four-day muzzleloader hunt that we went on for whitetail deer and hogs in the Bayou Cocodrie, National Wildlife Refuge near Natchez, Mississippi.

Friday, January 3rd
High 57, low 41

I only see him every few years but Bobco Pearson is Tom’s next door neighbor a very good friend of mine and shares a hunting camp with Tom. Today we would wake up at 3:00 a.m and by “Straw Boss Toms” rules be on the bayou in Bobco’s, Gator Trax model 1750 by 4:00 a.m. This surface drive boat is powered by a 35-horse Mudbuddy motor and Bobco would navigate it by site and GPS-six miles each day to our hunting spot (Bobco please put your Yankee buddy in your will to receive the Gator Trax).

These guys are no nonsense and after the boat ride it is roughly half a mile hike thru the jungle, with portable stands on our backs, packs, and carrying our muzzleloaders. All travel is thru palmetoes (giant ferns that block all vision, especially of charging hogs) with GPS’s in hand (I still use a compass).

I was dropped off long before first light and set up my stand confident that I would soon be putting a hole in a trophy buck or better yet a feral pig, which in the south all hunters are asked to dispatch on site.

Folks I have been on two hunts in the south, three years ago to Texas, deep snow, frozen pipes at the camp we stayed at upon arrival and very little action (first time in ten years that they had this type of weather). Today, as daylight and the sweat from a challenging walk began to dry and the sound of other mud motors was silenced, as we all sat in our stands, I finally began to realize how much all hunters are the same in this great country. We work hard, dream big, and come home tired.

There were shots this morning and Bobco made an excellent hit on an adult doe (aged 2.5 years, dressed weight at check station 74-pounds) but for the most part we did not see another deer or hog and after trailering the Gator Trax at 7:00 tonight, we returned to camp with the same big dreams!

Sunday, January 7th
High 22, low 14

The Polar Vortex has hit the south and if you think it is a problem in the north, magnify it by five as far as its affect on our friends in the south. This morning was day four in the Gator Trax at o-dark thirty and it was cold. I was in my stand by 5:20 and we had high hopes as the afternoon before we had relocated to another part of the jungle and there was ample deer and hog sign. At first light, Bobco got a shot at a hog and missed, that would be the only deer or hog spotted in four-days of very hard hunting.

The day before this hunt, we had come from these guys main camp and I had shot a spike buck, and we came on this hunt well aware that we had left excellent conditions that were caused by flooding which condensed the game to high ground.

Our four days at Bayou Cocodrie are based on a traditional hunt in which in past years several huge bucks have been taken. This year a fella camped next to us, shot a 230-pound, 11-pointer and the next day 120-pound spiker.

I hunted with my 32-year-old nephew, Josh Walters, for the first time and have become addicted to this deep south hunt and will return every other year.

The day after I headed home these guys left Bayou Cocodrie and went to their main camp! On the first morning, Bobco missed a big buck and they both scored a 200-pound hog.

Since my return home I cannot get this hunt out of my mind, on the bright side, I won the big buck bet. Yay me! Sunset