A Double Play on Teal
On the second morning, I'm gunning with Pat's brother, Ted Beaullieu Jr. Guided by Thomas, my previous day's fishing guide, we head to another rice field and enjoy a replay of the first morning's action. Bluewings are plentiful, though they're still flying faster than I can swing my shotgun barrel. Ted Jr. deftly downs his four birds while I dine on a combination of honey bun and humble pie.
Between flights, Ted Jr. talks about his father. "You're going to enjoy hunting with Dad tomorrow," he says. "He's quite a guy. He played football at Notre Dame.
He was in the Merchant Marine in World War II. He's hunted and fished in south Louisiana all his life, and he's got an endless supply of stories to tell."
Ted Jr. grows animated as he recalls his father introducing him to duck hunting long ago. "He started taking me hunting when I was nine years old. Back then the marsh around Pecan Island had clouds of ducks. One morning they all got up together and literally darkened the sky. My dad said, ‘Remember this, son. You might not ever see it again.' I still have that picture imprinted on my mind."
Ted Jr. chuckles at the memory of his dad's boat, named "Mud Hog," throwing a huge rooster tail. "I enjoyed the boat ride as much as the hunting," he says. "Dad was a good caller. Pat, Paul [their other brother], and I watched and learned from him. He'd let us paddle a pirogue out to retrieve our ducks. Those were good days, and I'm so thankful we're still enjoying them with him."
After another unforgettable breakfast at Grosse Savanne, we pack up and drive south and east—through Creole, over the Intracoastal Waterway, and through Grand Chenier and the Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge. Soon we arrive in the community of Pecan Island, home to the Big Pecan Lodge, one of the storied sportsmen's clubs in south Louisiana. The lodge is built on tall steel pilings designed to withstand storm tides and destructive hurricane-force winds.
As we ascend the steps to the front deck, we are met by a tall, silver-haired man with an erect posture and a warm smile. "You must be Wade," he says, extending his hand. "Welcome. I'm Ted Beaullieu."