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Backlashes, Broken Rods And A Duck With A Bow

1/11/2013 9:54:53 PM

During the Seventies, my brother, Bobby, ran a marina on Toledo. When January came around the fish were at a standstill and he seldom had any customers. It was during such a time that I visited him and gave him a strange request. See, I wanted to kill a duck with a bow! I was no Robin Hood when it came to accuracy, but due to my persistence and determination, I had managed to take all the available game in Northern Louisiana with the exception of a duck.

Bob did not even question my sanity when I put forth my proposal. HE HAD SEEN ME STAY ALL DAY ON A DEER STAND IN THE DRIVING RAIN, SLEET AND SNOW, AND ONCE DURING A HURRICANE! He simply said, "Let's do it!"

The sky was grey and threatening to do something that neither of us was going to like when we pulled out of the marina in his eighteen feet bass boat The temp was somewhere in the twenties and there was no wind. The complete absence of any gun shots should have told us something, but we paid no heed and pressed on. It was so cold that the ducks flew very low and slow. When I missed one, which happened over fifty times, they simply flew a short distance and lit, before trading back overhead to reach the moss lined bank where we were hidden by some willows.

Ice was beginning to form on our faces and clung to our clothes, as it did to the sides of the Skeeter Magnum bass boat and to all the low hanging branches. Any other person would have given up and insisted that we quit, but my brother and I are known to be a bit "hard headed" as some would say. We call it dedicated to accomplishing a set objective. With that said, I was fast getting ready to call it quits because my arms could no longer pull back on the 78 pound Bear recurve bow and my finger could not hold the string to my anchor point at the side of my mouth. As my resolve reached rock bottom, my brother motioned for me to look to the left.

"There is a big mallard drake coming in," he whispered. "Get ready, I am going to make him sit down on the front of the boat!"

He hit the old wood duck whistle, made from a shotgun shell cut at a forty-five degree angle and rendered a perfect Woodie whistle, by blowing hard across the slant of the shell. The big drake altered his angle and came straight in. This was the first single that I had had a chance at and will confess that I had likely been flock shooting and hoping.

This time I picked a spot about two feet in front of the approaching drake, held for a second, then released the arrow. The scene is etched in my mind as if I am watching it unfold as I type these words. The arrow wobbled for a fraction of a second, straightened and went straight for the bird. Each seemed suspended in slow motion until the arrow sailed through the mallard. The unfortunate duck never knew what happened as it folded in flight and crashed into the water a mere yard from the boat.

Without so much as a congratulatory word or a high five, my brother cranked the boat and said, "We better get the hell out of here now before we both freeze to death!"

I could not have agreed more, but was somewhat miffed for his lack of excitement for me. Although in all honesty, my reaction would have mirrored his reaction. Neither of us is the fist pumping elbow churning type you so often see on TV. these days.

By now the sky seemed to descend upon and embrace us in an eerie gray clutch. Bob opined that since it was so dark that the trip back would be safer if we went to the river channel about a quarter of a mile away and followed it back to an open boat road that let to his marina. It did not matter to me. I was reveling in my prowess as a bow hunter and you can bet you boots that I was reminding him of it all the way back.

As I continued my verbal assault on him, he shut off the engine and looked toward the old Sabine river channel. "I hear schooling fish!" he calmly said.

"Are you crazy bro? Has the cold frozen what little brain you have, or are you just wanting to shut me up?" I asked. But at that moment I too heard the unmistakable sound of fish, big fish, and hundreds of them, breaking the surface!

Now I will tell you, that as a guide and one who has spent a great part of my life on the water, the surfacing frenzy that unfolded in the bend of that river on this twenty degree day as sleet began to pelt us, was something I had not seen and may never see again.

I quickly grabbed one of my rods rigged with a salt water Hot Spot and cast into the melee. The plug scarcely touched the water when a robust three pounder grabbed the lure and went down, trying to tie me up in the forest that lay below. I leaned into the twenty pound test and the Lunker Stick rod did its job. I heaved the bass in and had another cast in the air when I noticed that my brother was not fishing.

"Why in the world aren"t you fishing?" I yelled at him.

"Well, its like this," he said wishfully. "I don"t have any lures! I don't suppose that you would give me one!"

Boy was that an understatement! He had always beat me at bass fishing, but now I had him. No lure and fish going crazy. I could not have been happier, as I threw number three then four and then five of the fat three pounders aboard. "You can at least make yourself useful and box the fish or you could be a good guide and take my fish off," I offered tongue-in-cheek.

"Pass the next one up here and I will do it," he replied. "I might as well make myself useful."

I should have know that his kind act had attachments. True to his word, he unhooked my sixth bass, but as he dropped it to the floor he hacked my line with his knife and calmly threw my lure into the lake. "Now we are even!" he laughed.

I felt him brush by me as I frantically searched for another lure. He had decided not to bring his tackle box when we left the marina because he did not want to get all his tackle wet and after all, it was freezing and there was no chance that it would be needed. As my nerves settled and I finally found a lure to tie on, I looked to the front of the boat at a huge splash. "Looks like this one will go about six," he said as he heaved the big bass aboard. His next cast produced the same results, as did the next dozen casts. My little brother was hammering me with six and seven pound bass on every cast. True, I was having a banner day with each cast I made met by a jolting strike from the three pound schooling fish. Only trouble was that his were twice as big as mine.

"I thought that you did not have any lures,' I teased.

"Well while you were tying on a new lure for that one where your line broke," he lied, "I remembered that I had this old top water plug in the well of the boat. And I knew that you were not going to give me a lure, so I tied on this old Dalton Flash!"

The lure to which he referred was a wooden topwater plug with a huge silver spinner in front. When cast into the melee and jerked, it mimicked perfectly the six inch gizzard shad on which the bass were feeding. After he finished off his limit of huge bass, he dangled the lure in front of me. Then he did something completely out of character for either of us because we simply love to beat one another. He cut the bait off and handed it to me.

It did not take any coaxing to get me to change. I tied the ugly plug, which had most of its paint missing and was covered with oil and gasoline from the bilge on my line and with a little unwanted advice from him, began to catch six pound bass on each cast. The action lasted until I had a tottal of fourteen bass in the boat, then the action stopped.

"What happened?" I queried.

"I cast a spell!" he winked. "Couldn't let you beat me with my own bait, now could I?"

As we eased back through the surreal setting and the encroaching fog I could not help but think, "Doggone it, he did it to me again!" But then I smiled and thought, "I cannot think of anyone who I would rather beat me."

The Cajun Guide/Johnny Procell


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