OUTDOOR CORNER: Opening day is two sweet words every duck hunter longs to hear

Lyle Johnson
Goosie Guice, Nathon?Williams and Merlin Auzine pictured with the 16 ducks taken on our opening morning hunt with Mike Smith.

Opening day; now there’s two sweet words that a hunter longs to hear and be there to experience it first hand. Ascension Outdoors, seen exclusively on Eatel channel 4 headed down to Reggio to meet Mike Smith, owner and operator of Louisiana Marsh Guide Service for an opening day duck hunt.

Smith is a five-time Louisiana State Duck Calling Champion, an eight-time Louisiana State Snow Goose Calling Champion and Gulf Coast Regional Champion Caller. In 2002, he was inducted into the Louisiana Sportsman's Hall of Fame. Smith also has over 40 years experience in waterfowl hunting and since 1984 has been providing professional, quality hunts to waterfowl hunters from across the nation.

Reports from all over the state indicated that the duck population was spotty at best. We’d had some very high tides from Hurricane Ida and that usually scatters the ducks out pretty good. Also the Mississippi Valley has lots of flooded fields from rain and high water in the big river as well.

That along with warm temperatures helps to hold the duck up north longer than usual.

Hey, this is opening morning and the waterfowl hadn’t been shot at, the marsh was loaded with grass along with plenty of feed, we’re hunting with a world class guide, so we were hoping to have an opportunity to take a few ducks.

We got to the launch at Reggio and it was pretty much a normal scene for opening day of duck season. Before it was over there were at least a hundred vehicles with trailers and hunters to go along with them. Organized confusion, but this wasn’t their first rodeo, so things went pretty smooth.

I would be shooting the film today and joining Goosie today was Nathon Williams and Merlin Auzine. We loaded all of our gear in Mike’s Go-Devil Floating Blind and got on our way. Man, this is the way to duck hunt if you want to make a hunt or two a season. Smith picks up his customers at the dock in a motorized blind.

You can hunt in your tennis shoes or even your crocs! Padded chairs are located inside, shelves for your ammo or other small stuff and plenty of room on the floor to store your hunting bucket or bag. He pulls the craft into the spot and puts the decoys out with a pirogue that’s stored on the side of the boat and it’s on.

We head down Bayou Gentilly and turn into the marsh. The sky hasn’t a cloud in it with a sliver of a moon and stars filling the heavens unlike I’ve seen in a while. Being away from the city lights affords the opportunity to witness the constellations and planets to the fullest.

After a 15-minute ride Smith pulls the blind into a small pond and begins to set the decoys out. I see redfish scurry out of his way as he paddles around in the dark and Goosie, Nathon and Merlin are loading their guns in anticipation of legal shooting time. I’m getting the two cameras ready; one to shoot video and the other to take some stills.

As shooting time nears and the sky is breaking dawn, the sunrise we get to witness is awesome and we hear a shot or two and it’s time. Several ducks have already landed in the decoys and flew away when they realized their friends turned out to be plastic.

“Time!” came the shout from somebody in the blind, everyone knew we’d hit the magic moment.

The adrenaline is pumping as ducks began to fill the sky and shooting erupted all around us. We happily joined in as mottled ducks begin to come into the decoy spread and meet their fate, destined for a gumbo.

The action was really hot for about 45 minutes and it slowed down a little so we had to rely on the skill of the calls to get the birds in close enough for a shot. But that wasn’t a real big problem as Goosie won the state duck calling championship when a senior at East Ascension High School in 1971 and Smith has won it five times.

The hunt was called at 9:15 a.m. and the tally was 16 ducks taken by the four hunters. The bag was mixed and included black mallards, (mottled duck) blue & green wing teal, gadwalls and one spoonbill.

If you’re interested in booking a hunt with Mike Smith, log on to www.laduckhunts.com or give him a call @ (504) 682-1966 or (504) 228-4506 (Cell). You can see all this action on Ascension Outdoors starting on Dec 3rd on Eatel channel 4 at 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you.

Sunrise on opening day of duck season; it just doesn’t get any better.