Coach Curtis King, the legendary football coach and Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame member from Augusta was as avid a duck hunter as you could ever find. A duck blind in Black Swamp provided him the opportunity to spread his tall tales even further than the football fields. His old blind that he shared with his Augusta buddies was located about three twists and turns south of the float road on the Cache River.
Each fall on the weekend he would take me to help brush up the blind, or make additions to it. It was still dry one time we went to the swamp. I was about ten years old and he let me squirrel hunt, admonishing me not to stray very far. I learned immeditely why they call it Black Swamp. I couldn't see the blind and started walking in circles, finally hollering, Dad, Dad, Dad. From about 25 yards away he said "what do you want, boy? He knew I was scared, but didn't mention it. One hunt, Dad took my older brother Jake and I hunting in the blind. A large group of Mallards were circling and Dad, said, "Now, boys, we will shoot on the count of three. One.....Two...blam, blam, blam, Three. He had shot three times on two and turned around and laughed at us, telling us we had better learn to take care of ourselves. Dad always told us that there were two ends of a blind, one the coffee end and the other, the peeing end. To suffice, we figured that out real early in life. Back in the forties, when the limit was 20 ducks, I remember Dad, Mr. Jones Montague and Mr. Jesse Pendergist, along witha friend from Texas, J. C. Fountain, bringing 80 ducks to our house. Dad had gotten a bunch of army surplus paraffin bars from Camp Robinson and they melted it in a big washtub over a wood fire in the yard. The ducks would be dipped, allowed to cool for a few moments and then they peeled the feathers off the ducks, just like it was a banana. I bet they werent out there 30 minutes. One day, one of Dad's first period algebra students came in a few minutes late, wearing his hip boots. Dad told him, Son, l dont mind you wearing your boots to class, but if you are ever late again, there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth and you will wont be able to sit down for a month. No more tardy students! I still wear my Dad's old duck hunting hat and every day, when hunting, think of him and of all the wonderful memories of him and his friends, whom would always take time to hunt with us and to help us learn about the river and the woods.
Jerry King is a retired FBI Agent and is the proprietor, host and storyteller at Mallard Inn Bed & Breakfast, in Augusta, AR.