DU Podcast Transcript: Ep. 29 – Chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois Shares His Best Day in the Duck Blind

Chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois rejoins host Chris Jennings on the show to talk about his best day duck hunting

Clay Baird: Welcome to the Ducks Unlimited Podcast, the only podcast about all things waterfowl, from planning insights to science-based discussions about ducks, geese and issues affecting waterfowl and wetlands conservation in North America. We bring the resource to you. The DU Podcast with your host Chris Jennings.

Chris Jennings: We lucky enough to have chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois here again. What is your perfect day of duck hunting?

Chef Jean-Paul: Well, I mean there's a number of hunts that come to mind when it comes to the perfect day and none of them were limiting out. So, that that's certainly not, although limiting out is a great time, that's certainly not the point of a perfect duck hunt, I don't think. Living in New York, I'm so fortunate to have friends that are still avid duck hunters in South Louisiana that, when I'm down I'm making two, three, four hunts a week, when I'm there in different properties. The last great duck hunt I went on, we were just, we had the perfect environment and perfect season. We just had a cold front go through the night before. It was nice and chilly. It was a slow season last year, but the fog was just rising above the water, about six feet above the water.

Chef Jean-Paul: We were in a very Teal populated, Blue-Winged Teal populated area. Those Teal were already flying at 10, 15 feet, right above the freshwater marshes. But with that fog, they had dipped down in that fog and they saw that decoy and they flared and cuffed right in. It's always fun shooting Teal. We went along with that morning. It wasn't wham, bam, thank you ma'am, kind of morning. We had to work for it still, but we were down to our last ... Golly, and it still pains me to talk about this. We were down to our last two ducks and it was getting late. In the old adage, big ducks fly late. We always laugh at that because we never see no damn big ducks fly late. But this time there was. There was two mallards and again, it wasn't that type of season where we were chock-full of Mallards.

Chef Jean-Paul: We were chock-full of ringnecks and pooldoos and blue-winged teal, but these two mallards and man, we're up, we're down in the blind. We're getting like, this is going to be our last two. We got three shooters in the blind. We got nine shells loaded up, and we're calling them in and they're circling and they come around our backside. They're still about 30, I don't know, 30 yards up. And Jay, my buddy Jay, who was doing a lot of the calling, he had to call to shoot and when he called for them, we should've had, but we put nine shells in the air. None of these ducks fall. Then, we're like, "Oh man, that was our last two." We didn't see another duck after that.

Chef Jean-Paul: To it to make it worse. Of course, around nine o'clock is when all the bald eagles come. There is a family of three or four and it's kind of like Uncle Sam taxing you. You know, the bald eagle comes and steals one of your teal, taxes you. That was a good day because it was fun and whatever. But it ended on a note where, how do we not finish off these two green-heads coming right above me? But, what polished that whole day off is, my buddy and Jay and I, we had dropped some folks off at the camp and I had to go home. I had to go home, back to my parents house in Tibideau. So we were going back to the launch, but we made a little stop in and he hunts off the inter-coastal canal in Houma, Louisiana.

Chef Jean-Paul: There's a little little bayou that juts up, a number of low bayous that jut off of that canal. We ducked into some cypress and we had a low lodge skillet and a little Coleman burner and we had some teal that we had cooked, we kind of spatch-cocked if you will, but took out the backbone and just cooked both. But we had some boudin, which for those who don't know, is a Cajun rice sausage made from pork liver and pork and some bacon and we didn't have any seasoning at all. But we just browned everything up in that skillet together. The boudin, bacon and ducks, and all the seasoning from the boudin, and all the salt and grease from the bacon just flavored that fresh teal. That was one of the best wow game meals I've ever had and it's amazing what food can do, right?

Chef Jean-Paul: Part of a good restaurant ... Part of the sign of a good restaurant is when you walk in to a restaurant feeling one way and you walk out feeling much better, right? You're not just full, but you have this feeling of like, "God, that's where I was supposed to be at that time and place." And I almost think we missed those ducks for a reason, like we were supposed to go into that little bayou and cook those birds and have that time because that really made me forget. That made me leave that hunt better than when I came in. Although those two mallards flying overhead about 30 yards up, and blasting nine shells and seeing none of them dropped, that's still somewhat haunts me, no doubt. But what I remember from that hunt is me and those two guys eating duck and boudin and bacon in that boat. Just the next day, look, I love ducking hunting. Nobody said I was a good shot. All right.?

Chef Jean-Paul: Just the next day we'd go to Gadon, Louisiana, famous for specklebellies, snows, big ducks on flooded rice fields. That's their big agriculture in West Louisiana. I have my waders on, I'm carrying my shell bucket, shells, shotgun in my pack and my back. We are drudging through flooded rice fields, sinking up to my hips in the mixture of cow patties and rancid mud. My buddy Scott McGee, whose property we were hunting in Gadon, I said, "Man, I ain't never doing this again man. You got to get some TV out here or something. I don't know how I'm going to get back." But, we marched our ass out to that blind and we hunted, we hunted. We didn't shoot a lot of ducks, but at the very end, and I saw ... I was, am I in Groundhog day right here because two specklebellies, we're calling in, about the same height, same ways up, same kind of shot.

Chef Jean-Paul: It was our only two shots at birds that day and we missed them both. None of them fell. And I'm like, "Man." But still, that was one of those hunts where the jokes and the laughter and the storytelling we had in the duck blind, and that meant, that's what I remember. That's the feeling that I remember. Of course, again, those specklebellies will haunt me, just like those Mallards the day before. But to me, the perfect duck hunt is any one that you're hunting with friends, and be able to reconnect after years and years. I live in New York. Nobody else lives in New York. So the time where I connect with them is in the duck blind and that's always the perfect hunt for me.

Chris Jennings: Chef Jean-Paul. Man, I really appreciate you joining us today. This has been fantastic. That's a great story. Best duck hunt ever. That's fantastic. Why don't you let people know where exactly they can find you and some of your recipes.

Chef Jean-Paul: Yeah man. You can find me on Instagram at @ChefJean_Paul. You can comment, like, shoot me a DM. I answer all of them. So if you've got any questions about recipes, techniques, anything I can share, I'd love to ... Just shoot me a message on Instagram.

Chris Jennings: All right. I appreciate it, man. Thank you.

Chef Jean-Paul: Thank you.

Chris Jennings: Hope you all enjoyed the show today. Thanks to our guest, Jean-Paul Bourgeois for joining us in studio, and thanks to Clay Baird for producing the DU Podcast. He does a great job with it. I'm Chris Jennings. Thanks to all of you for supporting wetlands conservation.

Clay Baird: Thank you for listening to this episode of the DU podcast. Be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the show and visit www.ducks.org/dupodcast for resources based on today's topics, as well as access to more episodes. Opinions expressed by guests, do not necessarily reflect those of Ducks Unlimited. Until next time, stay tuned to the ducks.