Baton Rouge angler Derek Hudnall went into Saturday’s final day of the Bassmasters Opens Championship on Missouri’s Table Rock Lake needing a little push to fulfill a bass-fishing dream.
And Hudnall did it with a five-bass catch to push his three-day total to 34 pounds, 1 ounce, to finish third in the event’s Boater Division.
His catch earned him a berth in March’s Bassmaster Classic set for the Tennessee River in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Caleb Sumrall, of New Iberia, held the lead after the second round, but couldn’t come up with the right pattern and finished ninth. The division’s third Louisiana angler, Tyler Rivet of Raceland, finished 12th in the 28-angler field. Hudnall will join Gonzales’ Gerald Spohrer in the Classic field.
And how about young Denham Springs angler Alex Heintze. He’s only a couple of years removed from his high school tours with the Junior Southwest Bassmasters. He finished second in the Nonboater Divison with a 12-7 catch, good enough to earn $10,000 to go along with the $250 he received for catching the division’s heaviest bass, a 4-7 lunker.
For Gary Littlefield, the bird hunter, not the bank executive you hear on radio ads, the message hit home.
He recalled sitting at lunch with avid bird-hunting friend John Ballance nearly five years ago and said Balance was trying to build a movement of hunters to re-establish quail in Louisiana and resurrecting the area’s Quail Forever chapter.
“John told me then if we don’t try, then it won’t get done,” Littlefield said. “It got me thinking. If we wanted to be able to hunt quail like we did years ago, it had to start with us.”
Now, Friday, the Atchafalaya Chapter of Quail Forever will hold its fourth banquet to gather interested bird hunters for a 6 p.m. fundraiser at Bridgeview Gun Club in Port Allen.
While other larger and older groups like Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl and CCA Louisiana have established schedules and multi-level events, this group of die-hard hunters is laying the foundation for future generations to be able to find wild quail coveys like they did a generation ago.
“We’re had excellent response and we’re building momentum with committee volunteers who are engaged in the process,” Littlefield said this week. “We’re moving in the right direction, because our growth is more on a one-on-one basis. It’s about educating other hunters about the opportunities Quail Forever provides each and every hunter regarding habitat restoration, habitat management and youth programs our chapter has developed in a few, short years.”
Littlefield said the chapter’s work with the Wildlife and Fisheries upland game biologists, and the gain in recognition for using its funds for the aforementioned projects has paid dividends. He points to a quail project developed for the Sandy Hollow Wildlife Management Area as proof the Atchafalaya Chapter is in it for the public as well as the private landowners who can take advantage of federal and state habitat enhancement programs.
For banquet details and to secure a ticket, call Balance at (225) 266-1953 or Littlefield at (225) 802-8951.