Places & Faces
A Sportsman’s Paradise
8/28/2018 10:06:39 AM
Sportsman's Paradise

For some, Southwest Louisiana is synonymous with Sportsman’s Paradise. With our ample swaths of coastal wetlands, marshes, bayous, and forests that an abundance of birds and animals call home, it’s no wonder this area is the perfect place for hunting, fishing, and enjoying the great outdoors. In this month’s cover section, we celebrate anglers and hunters, as well the people who support the wildlife recreation industry – charter services, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, and the artists who create the gadgets that make the pastime even more enjoyable!


Hunting and Fishing Charters – They Know Where to Find What You’re Looking For
by Angie Kay Dilmore

If you want to hunt or fish in Southwest Louisiana, there is no shortage of places to go. Waterways, marshes, and rice fields abound. But if you’re serious about scoring the game you seek, consider venturing out with a guide. These experts make a living at knowing exactly where and when to snag that trophy-worthy fish or prized waterfowl. Below is a roundup of reputable guide services.

Fishing and Hunting Guide Services

Big Lake Guide Service
Since 1984, Jeff and Mary Poe have offered fly and light tackle saltwater fishing on Calcasieu Lake and its tributaries and off-shore; well-known sources of coveted speckled trout, redfish, flounder, and others. They operate seven boats guided by U.S. Coast Guard licensed and insured full-time captains. A full day of fishing lasts about eight hours. 

Their waterfowl services offer an excellent way to find numerous varieties of ducks and geese, primarily mallards, teals, pintails, and speckled bellies from blinds in a fresh water marsh. A guide will call, identify, and retrieve your birds. Hunting and fishing combo packages are available, as are lodge accommodations. Located at 150 Junius Granger Rd. Lake Charles. 

For pricing information, see biglakeguideservice.com.

Hackberry Rod and Gun
Hackberry is known as the "Speckled Trout Capital of the World.” Originally founded in 1975, Hackberry Rod and Gun is one of the largest professional guide services in the country. They charter up to 16 boats daily. 

Morning duck and geese hunts take place on 15,000 acres of Cameron Parish marshland. Owned by Kirk, Guy & Bobby Joe Stansel, these brothers are committed to quality customer service. At the lodge, their momma, Ms. Martha, cooks authentic Cajun cuisine.

485 Lake Breeze Hackberry, hackberryrodandgun.com.

Big Woods Fish & Game Preserve
This members-only resort provides world-class bass fishing and seasonal hunting. Located just 15 minutes west of Lake Charles, the facility offers boats, lodging, docks, shooting ranges, hunting blinds, and more on 3,000 acres with two man-made lakes. 

2627 Hwy 388 Vinton, bwfgp.com.

Grosse Savanne Lodge
Gross Savanne offers waterfowl and alligator hunting, fishing, lodging, and eco-tours. 

For more information, call Grosse Savanne at 337-598-2357 or see their website, www.grossesavanne.com. 

Hunting Only

Henning’s Guide Service
Captain Grant Henning and his experienced guides offer exceptional goose and duck hunting in the heart of Sportsman’s Paradise – Southwest Louisiana. With operations based out of Thornwell, a small unincorporated area nestled in Jeff Davis Parish, Henning’s offers hunting on over 5,000 acres of private rice farms and impounded marsh property.  

337-802-9000, henningsguideservice.com


Fishing Only Charters

Calcasieu Charter Service
These experienced U.S. Coast Guard and Louisiana-licensed boat captains know all the hot spots, whether you’re looking for reds, specks, or flounder. If it is waterfowl you seek, Southwest Louisiana rice fields checkerboard across the migrational flyways. Their lodge offers accommodations for corporate events, family gatherings, parties, or relaxing weekend getaways. 

210 Bank St. Lake Charles, calcasieucharters.com.

Calcasieu Point Charters
This guide business offers morning (8 hours) or afternoon (5 hours) fishing trips on Calcasieu Lake. They depart from three locations: Calcasieu Point Landing,  Spicer-Hughes Marina & Motel, or Hebert’s Landing. Calcasieu Point Charters is owned by Captain Lee Daughdrill, an experienced, award-winning angler. He also offers guided waterfowl hunting. 

607 McKinley St., Westlake, 337-540-3399, calcasieupointcharters.com.

Hackberry Charters
Captain Mark Huse offers guided fishing adventures on both Calcasieu Lake and Sabine Lake. Huse operates his charter service from a 24-foot Yellowfin bay boat. A lodge is also available. 

289 Lake Breeze, Hackberry, hackberrycharters.com.

Fishing Tom’s Guide Service
Join father and son team, Tom and Tommy Adams, for inshore fishing along the Calcasieu Estuary, which includes the Calcasieu River, Lake Calcasieu, Black Lake, and the Ship Channel to the Gulf of Mexico. Lodging available upon request. 

370 Moss Rd. Sulphur, fishingtom.net.

So, next time you want to experience a superb day of fishing or hunting, consider hiring one these charter companies. Most guides include everything you need except your Louisiana hunting or fishing license (which can be purchased online or often onsite), beverages and snacks of your choice, an ice chest to take your catch home, and a camera to capture your memories.


Creative Sportsmen
by Angie Kay Dilmore

For a day on the water or a morning in the duck blind, hunters and fishermen usually utilize various "tools of the trade” to make their adventure a bit easier and hopefully more successful. While their primary concern is for a tool to be beneficial, a sportsman may not be aware of the artistic talent that often goes into creating these useful devices. Thrive magazine caught up with five local artists whose artistic outlets originated from a love of the sport.

A quick Google search on duck decoy makers in Southwest Louisiana confirms that Ronnie Chauvin is the go-to guy for whittled waterfowl. Chauvin has always been interested in art. He took art classes in high school and still enjoys oil painting and other art forms. He started carving wood in Boys Scouts, encouraged by his Scout leader who also carved. Through family connections, he became interested in duck decoy carving. He basically taught himself, learning which types of wood work best (tupelo and cypress roots). He became involved with Ducks Unlimited, an organization that promotes duck habitats, which further prompted his interest in duck carving. Then he met well-known local artist Elton Louviere, who helped him hone his duck painting skills. Chauvin started entering his duck carvings in competitions. He has won numerous blue ribbons and Best of Shows. 

Chauvin says he can make a decoy from start to finish in about three days, depending on the level of detail. Decoys (also called dekes or slicks) used in hunting don’t have the same degree of detail as an award-winning mantle-worthy duck. He does sell his work on occasion, but he doesn’t take orders. As a man who is enjoying his retirement, he makes them on his own time and sells them when he has them.

Chauvin has discovered a unique way to mesh his interest in the outdoors with his love of art. "It gives me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction to try to reproduce something from nature that is pretty.”

Lance Chapman has been creating custom duck calls since 2014. He says each call he makes is unique. "Each piece of wood tells its own story and has its own special meaning to its owner,” said Chapman. "I recently completed a call using wood from Lambeau Field in Green Bay for a huge Packers Fan. Another was made from a 100-year-old beam out of a customer’s grandparents’ house. I’ve even used cypress knots from our own family farm in Gueydan to make calls.”

Chapman works full-time in industry, but he carves out time to pursue his hobby late at night or on weekends. He operates out of a 12X20 wood shop behind his house in Lake Charles. Recently, his acrylic call won 4th place in a field of 50 highly-respected entrants. "That reaffirmed the fact that I was on the right track with my call making.”

His business, Reclamation Game Calls, pays homage to his family’s farm – Lake Arthur Reclamation Company (LARCO) in Gueydan – where he learned to hunt waterfowl. Through the power of social media, Chapman’s hobby has morphed into a lucrative part-time job. He receives 10-15 requests a week for custom-made calls and completes 250-300 calls per year. Customers wait six to eight months for Chapman to make their perfect call. He makes several different types of waterfowl calls upon request, but the Mallard Hen call is his specialty. "I have found my niche in making an easy-to-blow single reed call that has a wide range of sounds. Many customers order matching set of calls, both duck and goose.” Prices range from $125 - $250, depending on materials used.
Find Chapman on social media, @getemagain.

Steve German started his taxidermy business in 1973. He was an avid duck hunter and learned the craft of taxidermy basically out of a desire to preserve his own kills. But then he fell in love with the art form. Word got around of his abilities and other duck hunters began bringing their birds to German. Currently, Steve German Taxidermy Art is the largest taxidermy business in Louisiana. "God blessed me with a job I enjoy,” he says.

In 1990, German won the national taxidermy competition and afterwards served as a contest judge for many years. When asked what projects are the most challenging, he says, "Tiny things and great big things are really hard. Giraffes are hard. Hummingbirds are hard. So delicate.”

German and his son Josh, who now owns the business, and one associate manage to process 500 birds, 400 fish, 275 deer heads, 50-60 small mammals, and 200 African heads per year! "We work!” says this very busy taxidermist. He has clients from all over the country and around the world.

Steve and Josh maintain a taxidermy showroom with hundreds of birds and animals on display. They welcome visitors, so stop by and see them sometime. 

602 Sulphur Ave. in Westlake, La. You can also find them on Facebook, @SGTALA.

Fred G. Hannie, Sr. started fly tying after Hurricane Rita as a form of therapy. "It gave me something to immerse myself in and forget the troubles of the day,” he says. He learned to tie flies by searching the internet for tips and techniques and formed online friendships with other tyers. Hannie has a day job, but fly tying earns him extra income. In addition to tying flies, he has written magazine articles and a book on the subject. He also paints and has incorporated his fishing flies into his artwork. However, his most lucrative venture with flies has been to sell or lease them to prop shops in Hollywood. "I sold some honeybees for an episode of the television series Castle and rented some wasps to an independent film company.”

Hannie says he loves the problem-solving aspect of fly tying. It also provides him a unique outlet for his creativity. And he adds that fly tying has a calming nature. He has shared his craft with veterans who suffer from PTSD and he says it helps them. 

Hannie has won a number of awards for his fly tying, including the Charles E Brooks lifetime achievement award by the Federation of Fly Fishers International.

Brothers, Alex and Zac of  Smith & Sons Knife Company in Sulphur have been making knives professionally since 2011, but knifemaking has been a part of their family since the late 90s, when their dad, Gary got involved in the craft as a hobby.  While the Smith family makes knives of all sorts, they specialize in hunting knives. They make many of  their knives from quality D2 Tool Steel.  But their knives are about more than function. They must also be visually appealing. "True craftsmanship can only be gained from experience and it is what guides us to make careful artistic choices that won’t hamper the usability of our knives,” says Alex Smith, Creative Director. "Craftsmanship drives us to mastery over our tools, materials, techniques, and eye for detail. At the same time, artistic expression drives our craftsmanship to new levels by forcing us to conquer technical fears and discover new techniques for achieving our end goal. It’s the relationship between craftsmanship and artistic expression that truly makes our knives unique: knives that are just as beautiful as they are useable.”


Hunters & Anglers – Help Keep our SWLA Tourism Industry Strong
by Andrea Mongler

Tourists travel to Southwest Louisiana for a variety of reasons. Some visit the casinos,  others come for the food, and some want to escape colder climates up north in the winter.

Many, though, are here for the abundant fish and wildlife. More specifically, they come to take advantage of the multitude of hunting and fishing opportunities the region has to offer.

Anglers can choose from among freshwater, inland saltwater and offshore fishing, and the area’s list of hunting seasons includes those for white-tailed deer, as well as various waterfowl and small game.

"Southwest Louisiana is a draw for hunters and anglers because we have so much to offer,” says Will Precht, media relations manager for the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Combine friendly Cajun culture with so many hunting and fishing options and it’s no wonder why outdoor adventurers love Southwest Louisiana.”

While the exact number for those visiting specifically to hunt and fish isn’t known, Precht says guide services consistently stay booked. In fact, many require customers to make reservations weeks in advance.

In addition to hunters and anglers from across the United States who visit the region, international tour operators offer hunting and fishing opportunities to their foreign clients, and Precht says this part of the tourism industry is growing.

Tourists, of course, aren’t the only ones who enjoy hunting and fishing here. Outdoor recreation is an integral part of the local culture, too.

"Growing up just south of Lake Charles, I didn’t know many people who didn’t love to hunt and fish,” Precht says. "It’s something that is passed down from generation to generation as a cultural tradition. That local culture promotes and welcomes visitors to experience the outdoors, which certainly has a positive impact on the tourism industry.” 


Hunting Safety

Hunting is a time-honored form of recreation. But where there are guns, there are risks. Every hunter is encouraged to take a hunter education course. However, Louisiana law requires that all hunters born on or after September 1, 1969 receive a Hunter Education Certification from an LDWF-approved course prior to hunting in Louisiana, unless they are under direct supervision of a qualified person. For hunters who have already met their safety course requirements, here are some timely reminders to follow the next time you head out to the woods or duck  blind this fall. 

For more information, visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov.

  • Every time you see a gun, pick up a gun, or point a gun, assume that it’s loaded.
  • Make sure your safety is always on and that the barrel is pointing down when you are walking with or transporting your gun.
  • Be certain of your target before you take your shot. That is, make sure that you are shooting at an animal and not a human and that there are no people anywhere near the targeted animal.
  • Wear the required amount of orange so that you don’t become another hunter’s target.
  • Make sure all animals are dead before you put them in or strap them onto your vehicle.
  • Do not bring small children with you.
  • Do not climb up or down a tree or over a fence with a loaded gun. Instead, hand your gun to a hunting partner with the safety on and allow them to hand it back to you when you are in position.
  • Stay sober and do not take any mind-altering drugs before or during your hunting sessions.
  • Look well beyond your target before you shoot as high-powered ammunition can travel up to a mile.
  • Hunt with a buddy. If you can’t hunt with a buddy, make sure that someone knows where you are and a time to expect you back.
  • If using a tree stand to hunt, wear a safety belt.
  • Before you begin the hunting season and before you use any new or borrowed equipment, make sure to go over everything and make sure that it is working properly.
  • Store and transport ammunition separately from your guns.
  • Keep both your guns and your ammunition under lock and key.
  • Never shoot at a sound or movement.
  • Enjoy yourself!


Grosse Savanne – Waterfowl and Wildlife Lodge
by Angie Kay Dilmore

Located on 50,000 acres of coastal wetlands, prairies, and agricultural fields in the heart of Cameron Parish near Calcasieu Lake, Grosse Savanne Waterfowl and Wildlife Lodge offers hunting and fishing guides and accommodations with a focus on customer service and a big dose of luxury. Packages with freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, waterfowl hunting, alligator hunting, and bird watching are available.

Their annual Blast and Cast package, available only in September, is Grosse Savanne’s most popular sporting package, according to Bobby Jorden, Grosse Savanne Eco-Tour Division Manager. It’s only offered 16 days each year in mid-September to coincide with Louisiana’s blue wing teal season. Dates differ year to year, but for 2018, those dates are Sept 15 – 30. The package includes a continental breakfast, early morning guided teal hunt, a southern brunch, an afternoon of either fresh water or salt water fishing, a five-course dinner, one night’s lodging, all beverages, and game/fish processing. "Book early because this package fills up fast, but there could be some limited availability,” says Jorden.

The Lodge opened in 1998, albeit on a smaller scale. Over the years, hurricanes and a growing client base have resulted in physical elevation and several additions. Today, they can host up to 18 guests in nine guestrooms. The décor is a cross between man cave hunting camp and five-star luxury hotel. It offers modern conveniences in a rustic setting and more than the average comforts of home. Even sportsmen appreciate fresh linens and turn down service now and then! 

Guests enjoy authentic Cajun and Creole cooking in the cozy dining room. A Bed and Breakfast option is available and includes a five-course dinner, continental breakfast, Southern brunch, and all beverages. The screened-in wrap-around porch is perfect for sipping coffee and watching the sunrise or relaxing in the evening with friends and a refreshing beverage while telling fish tales. For entertainment, the Great Room offers comfortable seating, a fireplace, and plasma television. The adjacent game room has a large card table, billiards, and a wet bar with top-shelf spirits. Climb the spiral staircase to a lookout room for a bird’s eye view and watch the sun set.

Want to mix business with pleasure? Grosse Savanne has added a meeting room, making it a perfect venue for corporate retreats. Visit their pro shop for merchandise and a take-home souvenir. They also arrange golf and gaming excursions to nearby casinos.

Jorden says over the years, Grosse Savanne has grown to a flourishing year-around business. "There’s no shortage of things to experience here.” 

For more information, call Grosse Savanne at 337-598-2357 or see their website, www.grossesavanne.com.

Eco-Tours at Grosse Savanne
Not everyone wants to hunt or fish to enjoy the great outdoors. Located near Bell City, Grosse Savanne Eco-Tours offers two-hour and half-day boat tours through a wide variety of habitats including fresh and salt water marshes, cypress swamps, coastal prairies, pine forests, and agricultural fields. It’s the perfect environment for birders, photographers, and all varieties of outdoor enthusiasts to view wildlife and nature. Southwest Louisiana is one of the top 10 birding areas in the country. Over 400 species can be seen at various times of year.

Bobby Jorden says summer is the busiest season for tourists to visit Gross Savanne. The two-hour boat marsh eco-tours are particularly popular. Jorden enjoys showing off the lush vegetation of the coastal prairie, flowering plants, birds and waterfowl, snakes, turtles, frogs, and of course, alligators! "Alligators are the number one animal species visitors request to see,” he says. "And we’ve got plenty of them!”

Jorden has a degree in natural resource conservation management from McNeese. On his tours, he highlights the region’s culture and the ecology behind what visitors see on the tour. "It’s fun to be able to share that with people from all over the world.”

Contact Grosse Savanne Eco-Tours via their website, www.grossesavanne-ecotours.com. 358 Chalkley Rd. Bell City, La.


Hunting & Fishing – Memories from Childhood

"Every hunter knows the anguish that ensues at the end of a season. Yet as the next season approaches, the ensuing anticipation is the most child-like aspect of adulthood."

"The experiences I’ve shared with family and friends in Sportsman’s Paradise will long be cherished. While every experience is memorable, a nice harvest is hard to beat." 
– Jonathon Jimney, owner of JK Custom Homes

"To me, there was nothing more peaceful and beautiful than watching the Southwest Louisiana sun rise in a duck blind with a cup of hot coffee sitting next to my dad. My dad, Victor Monsour, was an avid duck hunter and photographer who always told me that Southwest Louisiana had the most gorgeous sunrises than anywhere else in the world."

"Duck hunting was a strong family connector in the Monsour household. My dad started taking me hunting when I was two years old, along with snacks and a sippy cup of coffee milk. We’d have father-daughter duck hunts at the camp in Johnson’s Bayou for as long as I can remember. Hunting was a way for us to share life together, talk quietly about our dreams and goals while watching the peaceful sky."
– Megan Monsour Hartman, Public Relations Director, Phillips 66

"Spending weekends and holiday breaks hunting with my family at our camp was one of my favorite things to do growing up. I’ll never forget bagging my first duck out there. It was a cold, overcast morning with me, my dad, and a family friend. Dad was calling a lone Gray Duck (gadwall) that had cupped its wings and was apprehensively circling our pond. After a minute or so of calling, the drake flew straight in front of us, right into our decoy spread. I must’ve been the proudest eight-year-old in Louisiana that morning."
– Will Precht, Media Relations Manager, Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau

"My brother woke me up at 3:00 a.m. and said we were invited to his friends lease to hunt ducks. The friend had a cancellation and had invited us at the last minute. Our family didn’t have a duck lease, and I was obsessed with hunting. So, when we had the opportunity to go, I was all in!! It was an amazing memory because I was able to hunt (which I loved to do) with my older brother (10 years older) and his friend. How cool was that?" 
– John Ieyoub, Lake Charles City Council District D and Owner/ General Manager at PRIME Occupational Medicine

"I have fond childhood memories of fishing with my father along peaceful Southwest Pennsylvania mountain streams. But one fishing trip stands out in particular. I may have been six or seven years old at the time? And I have no photos to document the event. But for whatever reason, I was standing to the left and slightly behind Dad. I pulled the rod back over my shoulder, thumb tight on the spool release, flung it forward, released the line . . . and the lure flew smack into the pants on my dad’s derriere. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry until I knew whether I was in trouble or not. Dad wasn’t upset, and it was quite comical, watching him try to get that hook off his backside. I was laughing too hard to help him." 
– Angie Kay Dilmore, editor at Thrive magazine


Protect, Conserve, Replenish – Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries takes care of the state’s natural resources for its residents and visitors
by Andrea Mongler

For anyone who loves nature and outdoor recreation, Louisiana has a lot to offer. The state’s millions of acres of marshes, hardwood forests, and waterways are home to a wide variety of animal and plant species. In addition, outdoor recreation is an important part of the local culture and opportunities to hunt, fish, hike, camp, and bird-watch abound.

But all of these resources and opportunities require management and protection; a role that’s filled by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, or LDWF.

"LDWF is charged with protecting, conserving, and replenishing the natural resources, wildlife, and aquatic life of the state,” says Rene LeBreton, the agency’s public information director. "As part of that role, we provide quality outdoor opportunities for the public.”

The agency performs these functions through several different offices and divisions, including the Office of Wildlife, the Office of Fisheries, and the Law Enforcement Division.

The Office of Wildlife is responsible for research and management work with a goal of maintaining and promoting healthy and productive wildlife populations and habitats. Its game species programs focus primarily on white-tailed deer, waterfowl, turkeys, and upland game such as doves and quail. Its Natural Heritage Program, on the other hand, is responsible for the conservation of rare, threatened, and endangered species; non-game birds; and habitats. Examples include whooping cranes, which are being reintroduced to the state, and Louisiana black bears, which were protected under the Endangered Species Act until 2016. 

The Office of Wildlife manages nearly 1.5 million acres of public outdoor recreation areas. It also provides hunter, aquatic, environmental, and general wildlife education.

Similarly, the Office of Fisheries is tasked with managing aquatic species and their habitats, supporting the fishing industry, and providing the public with access to and understanding of the state’s aquatic resources. Its management areas encompass coastal waterways, freshwater resources, and the Gulf of Mexico, and its research and management activities include species sampling, surveys, and control of invasive species.

The recreational and commercial fishing industries are both priorities for the Office of Fisheries, which aims to enhance recreational fishing opportunities through improved access and public awareness and to support and maintain a sustainable and economically viable commercial fishing environment. Its outreach and education efforts include boat shows, school programs, community events, and fishing workshops.
"Educating and interacting with the public is one of our key responsibilities,” LeBreton says. "Though our mission is to protect our state’s natural resources, we are ultimately doing so for the people who live and visit here.”

LDWF’s Law Enforcement Division is also tasked with protecting the state’s natural resources — and serving the people who use them — but it does so through enforcing state and federal laws related to fish and wildlife. In addition to ensuring compliance with licensing and harvesting regulations, the Law Enforcement Division enforces boating safety laws, investigates boat crashes and hunting accidents, and provides boater education classes. It also conducts search and rescue missions and is the lead agency in the state for search and rescue during natural disasters.

Close to 200 LDWF law enforcement agents work across the state in the eight enforcement regions. Anyone interested in becoming an agent must pass a Civil Service Law Enforcement and Protective Services exam and then complete the division’s training academy, which involves classes and both physical and tactical training. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have two years of experience as a Peace Officer Standards and Training level 1 certified peace officer, at least 60 hours from an accredited college or university, some combination of the two, completion of an associate degree or other two-year program, or four years of active military service.

Calcasieu Parish is part of LDWF’s Region 5, and the local office is located at 1213 N. Lakeshore Drive. For more information, call 337-491-2580 or visit www wlf.louisiana.gov.
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