Talkin' Outdoors

On our way home from a weekend get-away to Mississippi, my wife and I exited I-20 for a stop in Tallulah. As we approached the on-ramp to get back on the interstate, a sign abruptly changed our plan. That particular on-ramp was closed, necessitating an alternate route west toward home.

Highway 80 parallels the interstate and we proceeded along the highway with cotton and soy bean fields stretching for thousands of acres on either side of the road, making for an impromptu but enjoyable side trip.

When we saw the corporate limit sign for the hamlet of “Quebec,” my wife quipped that we must have taken the wrong road and were way off course. Actually, there is a tiny settlement in Madison Parish just west of Tallulah with the same name as the city in Canada. When I saw the sign, a flood of memories swept over me because as a youngster, the village of Quebec played an important role in my growing-up years hanging out with my dad, an employee of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Dad worked in predator control and spent most of his hours on the job investigating complaints of wild creatures, such as bobcats and wolves, creating havoc with livestock. Madison and Tensas parishes provided the focal point of some of those complaints and one summer, my brother, Tom, and I got an invitation from dad, an invite we couldn’t have been more excited about if he had promised us a trip to Disney World. We were allowed to spend a week with him while he trapped wolves around the village of Quebec.

Our headquarters for that special week was a hunting lodge somewhere back in the Madison Parish woods. It was summer so the lodge was unoccupied except for the three of us and the caretaker of the lodge, a deeply tanned and wiry little fellow. Somehow after more than half a century, I still remember his name, Drew Denton.

This was one of those special summer get-away for two boys that still lingers in memory. While staying at the lodge, I saw my first wild turkey; a flock roosted in the trees behind the lodge every night. I also saw my first deer; I had never even seen a deer track because there were none in rural Natchitoches Parish where we grew up.

Dad had located a wolf den back in the deep woods and he engineered a plan that would involve Tom and me. I had learned to mimic the howl of a wolf and the plan was for Tom and me to stay at dad’s Jeep while he and Drew armed with shotguns, set up an ambush spot between the Jeep and the wolves. He left his watch with me with instructions to wait 30 minutes and then do my best job of howling like a wolf.

When the half hour was up, I cupped my hand around my mouth and let out a loud mournful howl. Apparently, my first effort worked to perfection. The woods back in the direction of the den came alive with the howling of real wolves. Tom and I looked at each other with excitement as the wolves answered my second howl. Then all was quiet.

At any moment, we expected to hear the blast of shotguns but all we heard was suspenseful silence. Moments passed without a sound, I decided to give it one more try, so I howled again. Suddenly the howling and yipping of several wolves shattered the silence from less than 100 yards away. Obviously, the pack had bypassed dad and Drew and were dead set on finding the source of the unfamiliar howl.

Then there they were; three wolves came loping through the woods in our direction and they were closing fast. By that time, Tom had retrieved dad’s pistol from under the seat, fired a shot in the general direction of the wolves to prevent us from being eaten alive. The wolves vanished as quickly as they appeared.

Interesting, isn’t it, how a long ago thrilling memory was revived by a simple sign diving crank baits. Crappie fishing has been best casting ultra-light jigs and small spinners on the side of the highway – Quebec.