The long hair and thick beard that make Phil Robertson so identifiable stands out in the crowd of onlookers gathered around the table where he sits. The genuine conversation that he holds with each person who engages him is as real as it gets, no put on fronts for this man. Here he sits, The Duck Commander, easily one of the most popular outdoor personalities in the world and yet he has something far more important than killing ducks on his agenda.

The First Baptist Church of Jasper has invited him to speak at their First Annual Outdoor Supper and he is cocked and locked to share the story of his faith with the enthusiastic crowd. In this crowd of devoted fans and admirers is my son Hunter. He thinks Phil is about a step-and-a-half from walking on water. Hunter had this date on the calendar for months and would not have missed it for the world.

The evening starts off perfect as Hunter holds a nice conversation with Phil about our scouting mission earlier in the day and about all the teal we saw while we finished up our blinds. A quick picture and an autograph and Hunter is now floating on cloud #9. For about an hour, Robertson signs autographs, sells T-shirts and videos, all the while continuing to enjoy the atmosphere as his wife Kay tends to all the details.

Now as the crowd dines on a fine catfish dinner, Robertson is introduced and walks to the stage with a purposeful stride. On his shoulder is a camoflague bag filled with the tools of his trade, the world famous Duck Commander duck calls and a bible. A brief demonstration of some of the calls is greeted with awe by those of us who wish we could sound that good. As smooth as the sound of the duck calls were, the transition from the calling techniques to Robertson’s own testimony was even smoother. With a passionate tone in his voice and knack for just the right story at just the right time, Robertson put the crowd in the palm of his hand.

For the younger folks in the audience it was an eye opening evening to see a man as rough and tumble as Robertson give such a meaningful and devoted talk. Robertson freely shared his thoughts on various problems of the world and related them to bible scripture. His own personal stories made a huge impression on my son Hunter; we shared our favorites with one another on the ride home. The evening with the Duck Commander certainly gave a new perspective on the man behind the beard and camo. His genuine love and faith in his religion along with his affection for all things outdoors is impressive to say the least. He is certainly a guy I would enjoy sharing a duck blind with, and for that matter he wouldn’t be bad to share a church pew with either.

During the evening I spoke with several folks who were fired up about the upcoming teal season opener, it seems in the last week or so a large number of blue winged teal have flocked into the area.

Hunters who call the coast home have been seeing these little fast flying birds for a few weeks and reports from all along the coastal prairie have been good for the most part. Those hunters who have access to rice fields and crawfish ponds are expecting some fast action as these areas typically hold big concentrations of birds.

One word of caution during this time of the year is to watch out for other ducks mixed in with the big groups of teal. I watched several small mottled ducks circle a pond on my property in Nome last week with a big group of teal. In the early morning light it pays to be sure of your target, take your time, make certain before you squeeze the trigger because hunting is not a catch and release sport.

It seems like I just wrote this same sentence not long ago, but as of this writing we are staring at yet another hurricane in the gulf that could impact our area in a big way. Hopefully we get past this one and have a great opening weekend for the early teal season. I know one thing for sure, if we get to hunt I will definitely have the Duck Commander teal call on my lanyard this year. That call is about as good as it gets. If we get to hunt this weekend don’t forget to take care to watch for snakes, bring plenty of mosquito spray, and by all means don’t forget your license or duck stamp.  Be safe and enjoy your time outdoors.