No matter how disappointing a duck hunting season might be, Teche Area outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen embrace, love and cherish the sport as no one else can.
For all or most of them, that love for duck hunting has been in their blood for generations. The excitement of leaving in the predawn darkness, of watching the world around them turning colors with each golden ray of light at sunrise, of ducks settling into a perfectly placed set of duck decoys, the feel of a trusty shotgun in their hands, never leaves their respective systems.
Those men and women, and their children, should relate well to a documentary to be aired in two months that traces the traditions of duck hunting across the Sportsman’s Paradise. The story about their unbridled passion over the decades will be told in an hour-long movie scheduled to be broadcast in December by Louisiana Public Broadcasting.
“In the Blind” has a connection to the area. Earlier this year, on Feb. 3, Emma Lou Reid, a New Orleans-based filmmaker, was in Coteau for Gordie White’s 2019 Duck Wake with a cameraman, Steven Murphy. Reid, who has been working on the documentary for three years, apparently enjoyed the post-waterfowl hunting season ritual started by White.
“It’s going to be good,” Murphy confided during a break in filming the scene inside the Francis Romero Memorial Building, where nearly 200 people met to celebrate, or commiserate, the end of the 2018-19 waterfowl hunting season in Louisiana.
I believe it will be a great movie. You get a powerful tease in the extended trailer that can be seen at www.intheblinddoc.org. The 6:33 clip, which is all at once dramatic, beautiful and educational, gives you the meat and potatoes of the documentary’s purpose: “Uncovering the history, significance and future of Louisiana duck hunters.”
That a transplanted Yankee, a woman who confided before starting on the documentary that the world of hunting and duck hunters were a foreign concept to her, made a movie that more than likely will have the biggest impact on duck hunting in Louisiana, is a credit to Reid.
Like many others unfamiliar with the ins and outs of duck hunting, the young blonde woman was unaware of the role duck hunters play in protecting the environment. She immersed herself in the gathering of information, accumulating movie footage, spending countless hours in duck blinds and at duck camps across the state and in the field with dedicated waterfowl biologists to learn about the culture, politics and landscape of waterfowlers.
Reid, who has a background in environmental science and produced the National Telly Award-winning documentary “Finding Common Ground,” shows the traditions and the sport’s relevance in a global conservation effort to preserve the duck populations, migratory flyways and fragile habitat of this region. She found out that migratory pathways bring millions of ducks each year down the Mississippi River to the woods, swamps and, unfortunately, disappearing coastal marshes of Louisiana.
She also tells about rapid changes to the landscape that threaten the annual migration as well as the rich traditions of hunting, including cultural practices, etiquette, cuisine, storytelling and comradery that are passed from generation to generation. She points out that as the popularity of hunting and the condition of the eroding coastal habitat both wane, the rich traditions and migratory bird populations are in danger of being lost.
Here are a few posts from Reid on www.facebook.com/InTheBlindDocumentary:
• October 3: “The camp is a sacred place for these guys.. I got a peek into this haven for delicious food, beer, football, card games, naps and to my surprise, baking cookies.”
• September 8: “What a night! I feel honored to have attended the Ducks Unlimited Mike Benge Tribute Dinner and to experience the unbreakable bond and passion of this group.
My favorite line from the night was, “You come for the cause and stay for the people.”
Ducks Unlimited is so much more than a hunting organization. They are a HABITAT organization based on science. They bring Canada, Mexico and the US together to provide environmental services that benefit far more than waterfowl. - Emma •”
• August 26: “Honestly one of the hardest parts of filming duck hunts is to not stare at the dogs the whole time. This beautiful girl is Cocoa and she was SO pumped the whole time!! #nationaldogday”
• August 22: “You may know that hunters have been required to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp since 1934, but we found it interesting to learn that plenty of non-hunter bird lovers also buy this stamp yearly because they are confident that those donations go to good use.
It’s known to be one of the most successful conservation tools ever created to protect habitat for birds and other wildlife. This is one reason why people who truly know and care about birds support hunters.
98% of duck stamp funds go directly to protect wetland habitat and purchase conservation easements.”
• August 15: “I was not against hunting before starting this documentary, but I wasn’t exactly for it.. and I definitely didn’t understand the role hunters play in protecting and preserving natural lands/species (even as an environmental science student). There’s a lot of misconceptions and stigma surrounding hunting if your not a part of that world and this documentary will address A LOT of those.”
As the release date nears, I will follow up on this wonderful outdoors story being told by Reid on LPB. We don’t want to miss it, for sure.
After all, it’s about us, who we are and where we are, about something near and dear to our heart.
DON SHOOPMAN is outdoors editor of The Daily Iberian.