An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 1-25-2017

by Mark Walters

Louisiana Deer Camp

Hello friends, 

I just returned from an 8-day go for it trip on a hog and deer hunt in east central Louisiana, near Natchez, Mississippi. I stayed at my brother, Tom Walters and good friend, Robert “Bobco” Pearsons camp, which is located in the Richard K Yancey Wildlife Management Area.

Monday, January 9th
High 63, low 34

This trip was a total go for it adventure from the 1090- mile drive which I did by myself, pretty much straight through while pulling a trailer with an ATV in it. To the way that Tom and Bobco hunt, which is getting up at 3:30 in the morning and traveling at first by truck and then either by boat or ATV and then by foot using a GPS to where they plan on hunting.

I arrived last night and this morning when the guys got up, I have to admit that after only four hours of sleep in the last 46, I told the guys that I had to miss the morning hunt which in reality is a big deal for a go for it guy. I was shot, exhausted, whatever you want to call it.

To partially describe this adventure, this camp is in an area that is literally surrounded by levees, which control the Mississippi, Red and Achafalaya Rivers. Water, swamp and forest make it extremely remote and high water for this trip created some issues like the one I am about to describe.

Tom and Bobco left camp by truck and then took their ATV’s out of the trailer and started the next leg of their journey. Today was the start of the either sex, primitive firearms season and it is a really big deal if you are hunting down here.

Anyways, Tom is following Bobco in the dark, each of them have their guns and climbing tree stands strapped to their rigs. Bobco was not aware that the water was quite as high as it was on this flooded Mississippi River backwater and kept on driving.

Kind of bad luck came when these guys way when they hit water above Bobco’s gas tank and killed his machine. To make a long story short, they were back to camp before first light and we had a recovery mission using my Polaris “Sportsmen” 500 and Tom’s Honda 300, we got the job done including a long tow job in what would be water that was at times 3-feet deep. Bob Pearson is a survivor and tore his rig a part and had it running in an hour.

Tuesday, January 10th
High 78, low 54

I drove down here to snow and ice, forty -eight hours later those conditions have been replaced by heat and at night we are dealing with a full moon. Both of these situations would have a major “not so good” affect on this hunt.

This morning I was at my stand at 4:50 a.m. Tom and Bobco travel in the dark and if their GPS fails they fail. My hunt would take place in a deadfall that is in a gully with a major hog trail going by it. 

I had nothing but time as it would not be light until 6:30, so I took a snooze on the forest floor and listened to 4 owls as they conducted a hunt, which they do by flying about 50-yards at a time and then roosting about that same distance a part and observing and talking to each other. It is eerie and incredible to listen to. What for myself was just as incredible is the fact that three days earlier I was in Wisconsin and the high was two degrees and here I was sleeping on the forest floor in the deep south and not even wearing a jacket.

Everywhere you walk down here you see hog signs, in other words rutting of the forest and marsh floor. The waterfowl are numerous as this is where a lot of northern birds spend their winter. The deer that are harvested down here can be incredibly small or easily hit the scales with 230-pound bodies and racks to match.

Each day we leave camp in the dark and each night we generally do not even start cooking before 9:00. Both Tom and Bobco saw massive destruction to their homes in flooding that took place in August and yet they love their camp and hunting so much that they will not miss deer camp.

Of all the areas of the U.S. that I have traveled, the people of Louisiana remind me the most of the people from Wisconsin. Sunset.