Notes From My Everglades Duck Hunt

Everglades small

This past weekend, I strayed far from my typical Northwest Florida hunting and fishing grounds and traveled to Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades in search of ducks. It was a great trip and we got a good pile of birds to show for it. On the other hand, there were some things that could have been better. So, for what it’s worth, I want to offer the following comments and suggestions.

To Roland Martin: You might want to pretend otherwise, but let’s face it – calling your Lake Okeechobee fish camp a “resort” isn’t going to get you high-class customers. You’re still going to have the same mix of fishermen, duck and gator hunters, and the occasional biker gang. You might as well accept that and put in a good game and fish cleaning station somewhere on the property. Speaking of which . . .

To the cleaning staff at Roland Martin’s Marina & Fishing Resort: First, let me assure you that – despite how it looked – no one was murdered in Room 212 this weekend. Second, I apologize for the blood and/or feathers you probably found in the kitchen. We had a limited amount of time to clean a lot of ducks and no good options for doing that on your property. The good news is that we were able to get most of the nastiest stuff out of the sink and into the garbage can. (Oh, and sorry about the garbage can, too.) By the way, you are welcome to the can of Diet Coke I left in the refrigerator.

"Resort" is stretching a tad.

“Resort” is stretching a tad.

To the FWC staff: I’m not sure what kind of quotas you have on the gator hunts down there, but the population in Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) 1 is doing extremely well right now. I didn’t do a formal count, but just based on the number of red eyes reflected in our lights and the grunting going on, it might be time to consider harvesting a few hundred more next year. At least get the pair of eight-footers that were right by spot 56 where we put in and hunted.

To the gators in STA-1: Look, I appreciate the companionship and your willingness to retrieve our ducks. You should know that true “retrievers” actually return the ducks to the hunter. In your case, however, that would probably cause even more problems. Let’s just agree that you can chase the live ducks and leave the dead ones alone. Also, I was just kidding about raising the gator quota.

To the FWC staff (again): I wasn’t kidding.

To the snake I saw on Saturday:  Buddy, what you did was unforgivable. You heard me coming your way. I was wearing waders and slogging through thigh-deep water. You knew my duck was over in those cattails. You had time to leave, but you didn’t. You waited until I was right in front of you before you darted past me – adjacent to and on the same level as my crotch. Were you poisonous? I don’t know and I don’t care. There is no species of snake (or any other reptile) I want anywhere near my zipper.

To my friend, Mike Craney: Thanks for letting me use your waders this weekend. They worked very well to keep me warm and dry. I need to keep them a couple more days though. That’s because muck on the bottom of the STA smells horrible – and because of the situations I just described, I want to reassure you that smell is just the muck.

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