The first step in making a great wild duck gumbo is to go shoot some ducks.
And this is the time of year for it. That's why I climbed into an airboat last Saturday morning at 5:30 a.m. and set out across the mudflats of South Bay near Aransas Pass in the dark. As the sun came up, I found myself in a duck blind with two of my brothers and a nephew. We were all wearing camouflage from head to toe and holding 12-gauge shotguns.
As the sun got brighter, we started to see more and more ducks. By about 9:30 an enormous flock of redheads numbering in the thousands came off the rice fields and flew over us in waves. A cloud of ducks covering the sky was the kind of spectacle that I have heard about from old-time hunters in Louisiana. I never thought we would see such a plenty of wildlife again. As the ducks rose in the sky, the sun caught their wings and turned them silver. It was an awe-inspiring sight.
The ducks landed in a huge raft a few hundred yards away from our blind. There were so many, we could have gotten our limit of two birds apiece by throwing stones at them. Back at the camp on the shoreline we cleaned our birds, and I took home the breasts. In the coming weeks, I am planning on making some wild duck pate, some wild duck sausage and a big pot of wild duck gumbo with oysters and sweet potatoes -- with a little help from my friends. Watch for the recipes.