The Never Was Trips
I was going to north Louisiana’s hill country last weekend to help close down Damon Hanchey’s deer lease and do a bit of wild hog hunting. We’d been planning this for a while as it seemed like a marvelous “Hunting Tale” idea. We were all set to go. I’d even picked up my check from The Jambalaya News early so we could leave Friday morning. But nooooooo. Damon was put on call and no one would cover for him. No biggie, we just put it off a week, so y’all get to read about hog hunting in the next issue.
Meanwhile, I had to write about something. I’d planned to return to Jeannette and Sean Stephens’ farm pond near Grand Lake for my second “Karaoke Fishing Tale” later this spring. One quick call to Jeannette and it was on. I had promised Greg Duhon, a former W. O. Boston student of mine and his son that I’d take them to Jeannette’s. There, I assured him, his son would catch beaucoup fish. So, I contacted him and they were all set to go–but they had to cancel and re-schedule for later in the spring. Undaunted, I moved on.
My photographer extraordinaire Chris Romero said he could go, as could my pal Glenn Bordelon who’d made the first trek to Jeannette’s. She promised us as marvelous a lunch as we’d had last time, if that was possible. This time, we were to dine on Shrimp Creole and homemade Italian cream cake. My girlfriend Rue, Jeannette and her sister Jodie Nelson Arabie were all set to serenade us karaoke-style after we loaded up on bass, brim and catfish. This time it wouldn’t be a record-setting 104 degrees, but a perfect, cool spring day.
So much for the best-laid sportsman plans as my chronic pain was so bad that early a.m. I had to call the whole trip off. Chris and Glenn were understanding at 6 a.m. that morning and will be speaking to me again some day. Jeannette and her husband Shane, family and friends had their pond fete anyway and I have the pics to prove it much to my editor Lauren Abate’s delight. There is even a pic of Shane holding up the lunker bass that I’m sure would have been mine had I been able to make it.
This is just one of a string of missed trips that still haunt me. While I was on the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, I had a meeting to make so my pals went hunting in my place. I’d even said they could hunt my blind. I had forgotten about them until a perplexed secretary interrupted my meeting telling me we had an emergency situation I had to deal with. I excused myself and hurried into the waiting room. Standing there were John Hood, Jack Duke and Ron Foreman all decked out in hunting regalia. Draped around their necks on duck stringers were 30 pintail drakes as a reminder to me of what I’d missed. They were still chuckling as they exited the waiting room leaving muddy tracks behind them.
On yet another occasion I had to babysit my daughter, so I told Carl Fastabend that I couldn’t make the hunt and to get someone to take my place. Around ten that morning I heard an SUV pull up in my driveway. My daughter ran to the door and gawked out the window. With a truly excited expression she said, “It’s Uncle John, Ron and Carl. They are so funny.”
Sneaking up my driveway on all fours like retrievers with five geese each around their necks were Raine’s so-called uncles. When I opened the door, Raine ran out to happily greet the Three Stooges of Waterfowldom. Not only were they harassing me for not going, they added insult to injury by dropping their geese, standing and then hauling a limit of ducks out the back of Carl’s SUV. Then the jovial revelers hugged Raine and were on their merry way. All I could say was what I said to Raine: “Those men are not your uncles.”
Yet another time, I was scheduled to hunt the rice fields on my farm but got a last-minute call to guide that day for The Sheraton Chateau Charles. I told my podna Butch Poole to grab Joe Gray Taylor and someone to hunt in my place. I arrived at the Chateau Charles in a drizzling rain cold front. I knew then I was missing out again as that was perfect weather for hunting my rice field. I made my hunt and we had a limit by 10 a.m. Energized now, I called to find out how they’d done. Butch said, ”We had limits of mallards, pintail, and teal. All drakes. Then we had a limit of specklebellies and…” And I hung up on him. I knew what he had.
All this is in the spirit of Terry Shaughnessy’s “You should have been here yesterday,” KPLC’s outdoors show of yore. In my case it’s “You should have made the never was trips.” Nevertheless, it’s off to hog hunt next weekend. Hopefully.