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Ducks, Redfish and Stingrays… Oh My!

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By Jenna Taylor

Photos by Hunter Forbes

 

Four girls who love the outdoors travel to sportsman’s paradise—a/k/a Santa Rosa Beach, Florida—for three whole days of duck hunting, bowfishing and chasing redfish? That sounds like a recipe for a damn good time.

 

And that’s exactly what went down.

 

We had planned this trip months in advance, when I told them I would be moving down to Florida. The perfect opportunity to have the girls down for some outdoor activities that wouldn’t be in the middle of nowhere, which is what we were used to. Population 25 towns with one subpar restaurant to eat at vs. Florida beaches and restaurants galore? I’ll let you decide.

 

December was relatively hot based on the historical average. That was perfect for us, as we had planned to jam pack hunting and fishing from dusk until dawn for those three days.

 

We started the morning after the girls arrived. First up was duck hunting. Duck hunting in Florida would be unlike any other waterfowl hunting that the girls had ever done, so Hunter and I were especially excited to take them out.

 

It was a 3:45 a.m. wake up call. We got up, put our camouflage on, grabbed coffee and sleepily ventured out.

 

As Hunter and our friend Clint were setting out the eight dozen decoys, we girls got out the stools, put up our panel blinds, propped our guns up and patiently waited for the birds to come. Buffleheads, redheads and bluebills came in that morning. It was a morning that we won’t forget.

 

During our ride back, we were pleasantly surprised by the hundreds of rays we saw up on the flats. There is a great migration that occurs twice a year—north in late spring and south in late autumn. Which is why it was such a surprise to us.

 

We quickly pulled back up to the dock, loaded up the bowfishing rigs and headed back out.

A day filled with laughter, sunshine and lots of success. It was December 16, we were listening to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and reeling in rays. What more could you ask for?

 

Redfish. That’s what more you could ask for.

 

Fast forward to the next day.

 

Rain may have been in the forecast, but we pushed through it and decided to fish anyway. We figured that we could get away from the rain if need be. We ventured out midday to search for the infamous red drum, and boy did we find them.

 

I wish I could tell you that was the most interesting/exciting moment of the day but shortly thereafter, we found ourselves quickly running away from the black clouds that surrounded us. Crouching down behind Hunter to keep away from the rain and hoping it would stop at any moment, we finally made it back and sought refuge under the dock.

 

Needless to say, we ended the day dripping from head to toe. And it was all well worth it.

 

During those three days, we frequented Don Pedro’s for breakfast, strengthened friendships and laughed our tails off all while watching the sun rise and set in the beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay.

 

It was exhausting. Waking up before 4 a.m., duck hunting, fishing, and then a group dinner every night. Lacking sleep, but making up for it with memories made. Those were a long three days, but well worth every minute.

 

Thank you, 30A Guide Service! Until next time…

 

This article featured:

Jenna Taylor ‑ @_jennakaye     

Jessica Byers ‑ @followherarrow

Jennifer Ferries ‑ @jenniferferries

Lori Lengle ‑ @lorilengle

Hunter Forbes ‑ @h_forbes_h

30A Guide Service ‑ @30aguideservice

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