I booked my flight and rental car much earlier in the year and as time went by several of my colleagues decided to join me. Several of them had never hunted and this would be their first experience so a little nervous anticipation was involved. I took all 3 of my shotguns to Arkansas, packed up my teaching gear (splints, ropes, tarp, sleeping bags, femur splints), and met my two friends, Dr. John and Matt R., at Hartford Airport at 4:00am.
Finally, we arrived in Little Rock and met up with Dave (a former resident) who also came along for the CME hunt. Forgetting that I had rented a compact size car - toyota corolla -, we practiced our game of Tetris successfully placing 4 guns, all our gear, laptops, ropes, etc into the car along with the 4 of us.
We stopped in England, AR for some amazing fish tacos and to allow the backseat passengers to stretch out their legs and then traveled on to Mack’s Prairie Wings where we loaded up on more gear and Ammo. Shortly thereafter, we arrived at Cypress Point and we were happily greeted by Jenny and Daniel and the rest of the crew. While picking out rooms, the rest of the clients arrived: John, Michael, Gary, Nick, Joe, and Gabe.
We had a delicious evening meal together and a quick intro to our daily schedule and wilderness medicine in general. Shortly after, we went to sleep as we all knew the 3:30am alarm would come early.
“Guns, Ammo, Waders!” - We all heard this familiar tone as we sluggishly got ourselves out of bed and into our gear. Coffee & snacks followed by our drive to the river on a very cold morning.
After splitting up the groups, we spread out and set up the decoys. While there was much activity across the waterway, the morning was slow as the weather had been really cold and the ducks were not moving as well as we had hoped.
After a few hours, finally one duck came quickly from my left about 10 feet off the water when I heard a bang and it dropped straight to the stream - I looked over and Dave was putting down his firearm - “Nice Shot!”
We ended the day with about 3-4 ducks per group and were eager to get back out the next morning. That day we got back to a full-on brunch, nap, lectures and early night sleep.
Our second day of hunting, we loaded up the Utility Vehicle and changed up our groups. We spread out around flooded timber along a rice field. Suddenly, we noticed Daniel’s headlights pointing sideways and then straight up when he got the UV stuck center high on a bank. Luckily, no one was hurt. The bird activity was incredible. Ducks were constantly flying over head and into our decoy set-up.
Nick who reached over his shoulder and shot over the trees nailed one duck that fell on the other side of the tree line - I waded over and got his bird for him and took credit for at least 1/2 a duck. haha A short time later he was asking, “ Is it squirrel season?” The new guys were learning to shoot well and we all had a great time.
Later we found out that Gabe who was not in our group, really enjoyed shooting at birds over 100 yards out and actually killed one (althougth it sounded as if his mates were about to feed him to the birds).
All in all, we shot over 50 ducks that morning including many mallards and a few teal. Also, Nick perfected his human duck call as he turned a bird while waiting for the utility vehicle to be pulled out of the ditch. Later, he tried this again and is the first person to make a natural duck call out the window of their truck and turn an entire flock of ducks around to follow them !
Back at the lodge, we rested up for some evening lectures and a late night of poker - texas hold’em. The appetizers of Duck Skewers with portabella mushrooms and bacon (recipe of John) was amazing. After quickly losing my $20 on the first hand, I bought in another $20 and was the last one standing with Michael when we finally realized we were nearly out of booze and time.
The next morning we started early with some lectures as it was our day off. Followed this by a little friendly competition of Shooting Clays while some of the others went Goose Hunting.
Let’s just say Dave killed it at the clays - hitting the 10/10 to start off the day. Dr. John stated, “I cant believe 28 clays actually ran into my shot” at the end of the day. We all went home with sore shoulders and smiles on our faces and $5 dollars poorer (except for Dave). We also stopped by the local taxidermist to prepare a few of the ducks we had shot that week. Meeting back at the lodge we enjoyed the stories of the goose hunt, and how their guide really enjoyed their camo and made some excellent selections for hats, camo and blind placement.
Bed early for our last day of hunting. We split the groups again and ended up with another good day of hunting. Over 30 ducks by the other group and around 10 for us. Back at the lodge we finished our practicals, splints, rope carries, and found that Daniel and Glenn and the guides really enjoyed listening in and actively participated in our work-shops.
Daniel explained how his face was smashed by a piece of machinery and how Glenn did CPR to save him. The plastic surgeon apparently asked his wife to bring a photo so that he could make Daniel look like whatever they wanted - Joe stated, “ You know Daniel, you do look a lot like Brad Pitt”.
Our final meal, was a well prepared duck for each of us and we laughed and told stories and we were all sad to see the meeting come to an end. It’s always so fun to hold a conference and meet new people and it’s always hard to travel home and get back to the grind.
Thank you all for an amazing trip and I know I will see some of you next year.
Michael: excellent shot, my last poker mate, and KY Bourbon lover
Gary & John: experienced hunter’s with some excellent recipes and helpful hunting tips
Dr. John S: first time experience hunting and we are all thankful he didn’t shoot anyone - also voted for the best-looking Carhartt vest.
Dave: enthusiastic, excellent shot - and beat us all at shooting clays and likely killed 75% of our ducks
Joe: great quotes, least amount of sleep, and another Ky Bourbon lover
Matt: first experience hunting duck, kicked our butt on last / hardest station of shooting clays after struggling most of the day, and a great ATV lecture
Gabe: Award for longest distance kill, overall great shot, and late night poker player. Also, awarded loudest snorer of the group
Nick: Best natural duck call, love of squirrels, and a true admiration for his newly found goose guide
Ben: enthusiastic and energetic emergency doc who loves having a good time
Thanks to everyone for making this a successful, fun and educational trip !