Surprise! There was a day when I was against hunting/harming animals. I know you can’t tell it from the big grin on my face during my super chilly Louisiana duck hunt, but I’m a small town girl who wasn’t brought up hunting, one who knew nothing about hunting. But I did have a “can do” attitude and “go for it” mindset.
As I grew older and wiser I began to have an interest in the outdoors and became overcome by a thirst for knowledge about the hunting lifestyle. I remember seeing Nicole Oliver for the first time on social media and thinking to myself, I want to be just like her! Well, that’s when you tell yourself, ” I can do it!” And you go for it.
I was in a manic rush as I entered Academy Sports, because I absolutely could not wait to get my hands on the Remington Versa Max twelve gauge semi-automatic shotgun. Thoughts of fantasy hunts began to rush into my head. I just needed to see it for myself, feel it, and hold it. As I approached the counter my level of excitement was the same as when I was a kid sneaking into the living room to see what Santa had brought. The redness of my cheeks and increased size of my pupils must revealled my excitement.
There she was, all tucked away in a glossy, hard shell green case. Pretty as can be; just for me. It was like Christmas morning all over again. With the Mossy Oak Duck Blind pattern, the black over molded grips, and the beautiful green “R” that stands for the one and only, Remington, she definitely stood out. The Versa Max came with five interchangeable chokes, a nice gun sling, and fiber optic sights. Boy, she was a pretty thang. So, she’s an eye catcher; let’s see if she can match up to her appearance. I couldn’t wait to shoot it! And was I ready? You can bet your butt I was.
Venice, here I come…ready or not!
Opportunities knocked at my door and I was determined to reach as far as I could. A friend asked me to attend a one day duck hunt in Venice, Louisiana, a new place and first guided duck hunt. “I can hunt like these pros, I’ll show them,” I thought! Nervous? Gosh, if you only knew! I had shot at doves before, but had never experienced shooting at a flock of ducks from a boat. I was determined and I was ready!
It was pouring rain and freezing cold the morning of the hunt. I’m not one for the cold, but it wasn’t stopping the itch to put the smack down on some ducks. I layered up head to toe; I could barely move. I looked and felt like the kid from “A Christmas Story”. Still, with a huge grin on my face, I was ready to roll.
The rain slowed at daybreak and we set out. On the boat and off to the marsh, here we come with my Versa Max in my hand.
On the way to our honey hole, I spotted the ugliest creature I’ve ever laid eyes on while hunting! I freaked and yelled to the guide, “What in the world was that…?! That thing that just jumped in the water?!” “A nutria,” he said, and I could shoot it because it’s open season all year long for that species. I guess that makes it like hog hunting for Texans and some the South. The nutria is a semi-aquatic oversized invasive rodent in coastal Louisiana. They are probably are the defendants of escapees and possible releases from nutria farms in the 1930s. The decline of fur trapping resulted in over population. The damage from the species is an ongoing problem and many damaged sites are not likely to recover naturally. Without extensive management of nutria herbivore damage, the stability of the Louisiana coastal ecosystem is threatened.
After getting educated on the boat about the Nutria, I was ready to put my Versa Max to use! In no time at all one showed up about twenty yards away. I stood, aimed, and squeezed the trigger. The first shot with the Versa Max was a success! Down he went! I was pleasantly surprised that the gun didn’t scare me and kick me overboard. It’s a heavier gun and big for a tiny girl like me, but love at first shot it was. To my surprise, thanks to the gas action and weight of the gun, it was soft shooting and had minimal recoil. With the soft Super Cell recoil pad, it made for comfortable and at ease shooting. I was very pleased with the way it shot and ecstatic because I just shot a huge looking rat… I was stoked! The over-sized safety button was a great benefit since I was wearing the thickest gloves to keep my fingers from falling off in the freezing temps. At that point with the adrenaline flowing, all fingers stayed intact.
Now, on to duck hunting we go!
We arrived at our spot and threw out a hundred different decoys. It was fun and exciting! With the sun shining down and the water glistening, seeing them all floating in the open water was dazzling! God sure does paint a beautiful tapestry. After we finished setting out decoys, our guide said, “Now hold on!” I was a little intimidated by his command, but he revved up the motor and then parked us right in the middle of the marsh and canes. That was pretty exciting, too! I believe I’m quite the daredevil: It doesn’t take much to excite a small town girl! As we were covering ourselves with the marsh and blending in, I could hear ducks all around me. Boy, was I ready!
We got situated and the calling began. That’s my next goal… to become the greatest duck caller to ever walk this planet. If you could hear my duck calling skills, you would laugh pretty hard. But hey, I’m learning! You have to start somewhere, right? But at that moment, I left the duck calling up to our guide.
Ducks started flying in left and right; right over and down to the decoys they flew. “Do what I do and follow me, just don’t shoot me!” said our guide. No problem, I laughed full of excitement!
I shot at several and hit a few. Pulling that trigger and watching them fall, knowing I made contact with them, was an awesome feeling. I was actually hitting them! I shot a beautiful green winged teal and a stunning gadwall. Everyone got their max… including my eye-catching Versa Max. Through it all, the Versa Max shotgun handled well and performed like a trooper and so did I! It was a never to be forgotten experience. Smiles, laughter, and time well spent in the outdoors was good. The Versa Max, shooting ducks and ugly rats just made it even better. I stepped out of my comfort zone and went for it. I feel blessed and am thankful for this incredible opportunity. Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and don’t give up! You can do it!
Publisher’s Note: Do you have a story to share here? Contact us today, we’d love to help! About the Author: Tiffany Anderson is a small town huntress who has a huge passion for the outdoors and spends most of her time working hard and providing for her family; but yet dreaming of her days out in the field. She resides in Eufaula, Alabama and is currently pursuing her dreams of becoming the next Annie Oakley.