Los Patos De Las Arboles

The fishing in El Golfo out from Mazatlan was terrific and a Fall trip yielded Dorado, Sail Fish and a White Marlin, but the truly memorable event was the most unusual Duck hunt I had ever been on. I had been hunting ducks for over 25 years, sneaking stock tanks, decoying them in flooded rice fields and timber, pass shooting and shooting them over Goose spreads, but I never imagined a hunt like this one.

Norman Shelter, a Houston friend of mine, and I were standing on the bank of a tidal lagoon north of Mazatlan, as our guide and his two helpers loaded our guns and shells into 2 flat bottomed, aluminum boats with no visible means of propulsion. Across the lagoon, probably 600 yards away was our objective, where we could see Ducks coming in, some landing on the water and some landing in the trees! Hard to sneak up on!

Our guide told us to each to get into a boat and his helpers started pushing us into the lagoon. More instructions from the guide, “Load your guns and lay down in the bottom of the boat and be still and they will push both of you into shooting range and the rest is up to you.” Our helpers didn’t “habla Englais”, but each got behind the boat and hid his head behind the gunnel and started pushing.

Soon we were across the lagoon and both of us raised up and commenced firing at the Ducks getting up off the water and the ones coming out of the trees. Ducks flushed wildly as we reloaded and shot some more. The Ducks then circled and flew right back over us and we unloaded on them again, which chased them off for good.

As one helper retrieved the Ducks the other held the boat and soon we were looking a very different kind of Duck. Long neck and web feet, with toe nail like things on each foot. A beige breast, black back and a white stripe down the side led to our tentative identification, Fluvous Tree Ducks, Fulvous Whistling Ducks or Mexican Squealers, but officially they are, Dendrocygna Bicolor. We took 4 home for supper and gave the rest to the helpers along with a generous tip to which they replied, almost in unison, “Muchas gracias, Jefe!”

Norman and I were a sight when we strolled through the lobby of the El Cid Hotel, muddy, wet and carrying the Ducks. We weren’t sure if the Chef would cook them for us, but later at supper, the Duck L’Orange, which we never expected in Mazatlan, was a fitting close to a different kind of Duck hunt.