We gathered recently in Thibodaux for the annual conference of the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association. On Saturday night during the dinner and awards ceremony, I sat at a table with good friends Terry and Carol Jones from West Monroe.
The last event that night was the ever-popular raffle. In an annual ritual, we enthusiastically purchase tickets hoping to win prizes of merchandise provided by sponsors. I felt a slight tingle of excitement when one of my numbers was called. There were fishing rods and reels and all sorts of neat stuff. My enthusiasm dropped a bit when I was handed my prize. I got a cap and a coffee mug.
As the number of prizes dwindled down to the last one, I heard a little squeal from Carol as one of Terry’s numbers was called. What did he win? More on that later.
It was a cold December day in 2015 when Terry was hunting ducks and squirrels along his favorite waterway, Dugdemona Bayou. Growing up in northern Winn Parish, the Dugdemona and its surroundings were his favorite places to hunt and fish.
As he paddled his way along the bayou in his pirogue, he encountered a tree that had fallen across the waterway. As the struggled to remove enough limbs to make his way along the bayou, one of the limbs caught the barrel of his shotgun, a Mossberg Model 500 pump, and flipped it into the water.
“When I looked back and saw my shotgun was gone, I carry a magnet with me just in case I lose something like that but the magnet got hung and broke off so I gave up and came home,” Jones said.
Six months later the following summer, Jones was back fishing on Dugdemona when he recognized the same fallen tree that had robbed him of his shotgun.
“I realized this was where my gun had fallen into the water. The water level was down and I looked down to my surprise I saw my gun lying on the bottom in the mud all rusted, corroded, and covered in silt. It was in really bad shape so I knew there was no way it could be salvaged.
“It was loaded when it went overboard so I had to be careful and I stuck the barrel in the mud and left it there as a sacrifice to the Creek gods,” he laughed. “Telling friends about my mishap, several told me that they had also lost guns to the overhanging limbs on Dugdemona.”
Back to the LOWA conference…
As ticket numbers were being called, I watched several friends winning rods, reels, tackle boxes, and all sorts of neat prizes. I kept watching my skein of tickets hoping for something a bit more valuable than my cap and coffee mug but, alas, that never happened.
The table of prizes dwindled down to the very last one and when the number was called, the usually quiet and easy-going retired history professor, Dr. Terry Jones, showed a measure of excitement when his number matched the one being called out.
The final item is always the most coveted prize of the drawing and this time was no different; in fact, in his case, it was extra-special. My friend, Terry Jones, had the ticket that matched the prize; it was a shotgun — but not just any shotgun.
It was a Mossberg Model 500 pump, just like the one rusting away along the margin of Dugdemona Bayou.
Oh, and by the way, he also won a padded gun case. It floats.
You can’t make up stuff like this.
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