Outdoor Corner: Haiden Richard crowned world champion duck caller

Lyle Johnson

Erath native Haiden Richard came home last weekend as the new World Champion Duck Caller as he bested 56 finalist competitors in the 86th annual World Championship Duck Calling competition held in Stuttgart, Ark., during Thanksgiving week.

At about 12 years old, being inspired by his dad and family that loved to hunt, Richard started fiddling with a duck call. Then for a while, deer hunting became the focus of hunting for the Richard family. At age 15, Haiden couldn’t deny his love for being in a duck blind and talked his dad into leasing a blind and the “call” (pun intended) was back on.

Haiden Richard, right, poses with his new World Championship trophy after a successful day in Stuttgart Ark.

For the next 5 years Richard developed his hunting and calling skills to a level that he dabbled a little in the guiding world, but that didn’t interest him much. It was a chance meeting with a fellow hunter and caller that got his competition juices flowing.

Haiden met Brook Richard (no relation) on a goose hunt. Brook had just gotten into competition calling and told Haiden that he was really talented on a duck call. After being hesitant at first, Haiden took on the challenge and competition calling became a passion for the pair.

“He pushed me to become a better Speck caller, and I pushed him to be become a better Duck caller,” stated Brook. “It didn’t take him long to start taking my lunch money in Duck calling contests.” It seems to have paid off.

Competition calling became his goal as Richard won many contests including local, state and national awards. 2021 has been his year. He won first place in Ducks Unlimited regionals and a $5,000 payday and pocketed a $10,000 prize along with his World Champion Trophy.

Richard operates Southern Parish Outdoors that specializes in guided waterfowl hunts in Gueydan and surrounding areas.

Giving thanks

We got to celebrate Thanksgiving at my home on the Diversion Canal with about 27 of our family. Three turkeys were fried and the kitchen was filled with sides and desserts enough to feed an army.

The eating and socializing went on for several hours and ended up on the pier, where we started recalling our memories through the years. Laughter rang out over and over as we relived some of our childhood with some of the children in our family now.

We’ve recently acquired some new neighbors across the river, and there was a sizable crowd there as well. They’ve hung a new bell (a real big bell that you ring with a rope by hand) on the gazebo built out near the water.

Kayla Marie Miller killed this 122-pound cull spike in Livingston. She made a 30-yard shot Nov. 27  about 2:45 p.m.

They were celebrating Thanksgiving as well, spending plenty of time outside. They had sort of a game going on that included ringing that new bell every time a boat passed no matter how far away from the bell they were.

Sometimes a very interesting foot race ensued when they saw or heard a boat coming their way. We began to cheer when one of the guys made it to the bell in time and that started a conversation with us across the water. We wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving.

There were a few boats on the water, so the bell got rang a large number of times. Not too sure if I’m good with them doing that during the summertime when hundreds of boats will be passing.

It was during all that commotion when we noticed a hawk flying upriver with a rather large gizzard shad in its talons. We all shouted, “Look it caught a fish!” Right behind the hawk was an osprey in what seemed to be close pursuit.

I’m not exactly sure if the hawk stole the fish from the osprey or the osprey was trying to seize the opportunity to do a little thieving itself, but the race was on! Not us or those two birds knew what was coming their way but just up the river was a bald eagle coming their way looking for an easy meal.

About 100 yards away from us, the three birds began a clash to see who would end up with the gizzard shad. It was too far away to see the final results but we did see the shad fall out of the hawk’s grasp down to the water.

A brief scuffle took place and all three birds went their separate ways. The osprey flew by us again and he was empty handed. From previous experiences, my bet is the eagle ended up with the spoils and a full stomach because that’s what eagles do. They are bullies that do more robbing and stealing than fishing for themselves.

I’m not the only one who feels that way. Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter, Sarah Bache on Jan. 26, 1784, criticizing the choice of the bald eagle as the national bird and why he felt that way. “For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly.”

“You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk (Osprey) and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.”

My wife, Deborah, and I witnessed this first hand in Alaska. We were parked in Port Valdez near Solomon Falls at the suggestion of a local. It’s a spot where bears can be seen on occasion, especially at low tide. While we didn’t see any bears we did witness some behavior of sea gulls and eagles.

There were at least 100 eagles in the roadside trees and the very large mudflat created by the low tide. There were hundreds of sea gulls flying around or on the mudflat looking for food.

The gulls were the only ones looking and catching the fish that were swimming around. The eagles were just waiting for the gulls to catch a fish and then they would steal them before the gulls could eat them. It was a very terrible game to watch as the gulls would lose a great majority of the time. Sorry eagles!

So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!

Outdoor Calendar

  • East Ascension Sportsman’s League Meeting: 7 p.m. third Monday of the month in the meeting room upstairs at Cabela’s. Supper will be served. No dues will be accepted at this time until 2022. warrenh3@eatel.net 
  • Hunter Education Program: Hunter education classes have resumed. Classroom; online with a field shooting day and online for students 16 years or older. Website: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/hunter-and-trapper-education
  • Squirrel and Rabbit Season: Through Feb. 28. Daily bag limit eight; possession 24.
  • Deer/Archery: Through Jan. 31, State Deer Areas 1, 2 and 4. Through Feb. 15, State Deer Areas 5, 6 and 9. Through Jan. 15, State Deer areas 3, 7, 8 and 10.
  • Duck Hunting: East Zone: Through Dec. 5, Dec. 18 - Jan. 30, Feb. 5 (youth and veterans only). West Zone: Through Dec. 5, Dec. 18 - Jan. 2, Jan. 10-30.
  • Trapping Workshop: Dec. 11— Day long, Waddill Wildlife Refuge, 4142 North Flannery Rd., Baton Rouge. No fee, Open to public. Regulations, safety, skinning and other hands-on instruction. Dress appropriately. Preregistration required. Call Tanya Sturman (318) 487-5885, Ext. 3420. Email: tsturman@wlf.la.gov

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net