Sunday, December 26, 2010

How Did This Happen?

A pair of Great Egrets in courtship and building the nest in the rookery
at Lake Martin.(This begins in mid January)

In my younger days

photo by Marc Garanger copyrighted 1986

and wildest imaginations,

I never aspired to become or imagined myself as a Louisiana swamp tour guide.

photo by Martin Blake

But, I have always been a wild man, so...

An archive photo circa 1991

I feel privileged to be the guide and bridge that allows so many people from all around the world to enter into the forbidden, and often hard to reach world where water and land are so interwoven it is hard to tell where one starts and the other finishes.

So I try to glide gently through the trees,

so that the sounds I make, blend into the rustle of the cypress and tupelo.

My father taught me how to swim on land,

careful as a turtle.

When I am guiding a Louisiana swamp tour, I am on land that is flooded.

The fact the trees are growing in the water is proof that this was once dry land in the past,

because seeds will not sprout and grow under water.

He taught me to love the shape of boats,

An archival photo by Tanya Landtmeters circa 2000

and the smell of pure air in the morning.

"You'll see more if you're quiet", he told me.

"Things don't hide

or wait for you to pass.

And, it is more polite,

so they don't leave when you get too close".

When I first started doing swamp tours 25 years ago,

An archive photo by Henri Cancienne

I was a crawfisherman,

and I took people to the places that I knew as a fisherman.

Gradually so many people came to my Louisiana swamp tours,

I phased out the fishing and became a full time tour guide,

but I am still traveling the swamp the same way I did when I fished.

I have learned to develop close personal relations of mutual respect with the wildlife.

that allows me to get very close without disturbing their natural behavior.

As I approach a bird for instance,

I can tell by the birds body language when it is about to fly.

If I stop and respect the birds personal space before it flies,

the bird learns to eventually tolerate a boat full of tourists pointing cameras and binoculars in very close proximity.

Gradually over the course of time,

the bird allows me to get even closer and closer without flying away.

Such is the art of guiding an ecotour

and putting my guests in very close positions to wildlife
and making comments such as: "Look there is an alligator eating a snake!

Oh, I feel like I am in a National Geographic program!"

All photos are courtesy of Claude Nall,

(except for 5 from my archives, as noted)

are copyrighted, and all were shot at Lake Martin

where I do my Louisiana swamp tours.

If you would like to join me as I explore the wilderness of the Cypress Island Swamp, you can make reservations and get directions by calling my cell phone at 337 298 2630. Tours are by reservation only, so please do not go looking for me without calling first.


if you try to find my address on the Internet without calling for directions,
910 Wilderness Trail is my personal residence, and it is the mailing address of the office for de la Houssaye's Swamp Tours, 12 miles from the the boat landing where the tours depart!

And I thought computers were supposed to make life simpler for us?

The actual physical address for the tour is:

Lake Martin Landing
1321 Rookery Rd.
Breaux Bridge, La. 70517

And hey, I know you snow birds are flocking to the Gulf coast. Can't say I blame you, but it is deer and duck hunting season here now so guess where I am most of the time! I am tracking lost and wounded deer with my Louisiana Catahoulas.

Please call to make reservation, because I am not at the boat landing much this time of year.