Imagine yourself stepping into an airboat, a well-tuned 454 cubic-inch modified Chevy engine roaring at your back. As the RPMs reach a crescendo, the aluminum hull shakes as the large propeller fans the marsh grass around you. The airboat lunges forward and the Teflon-coated, 20-foot hull glides effortlessly over the dense wetlands. Your heart races as the craft moves through a scenic, meandering bayou at sunset. The evening air glances off your face as you continue the journey through a series of cuts that eventually leads into a gin-clear duck pond. As dusk turns into night, millions of stars emerge and darkness engulfs the marshes of southeastern Louisiana. Already, the ride has been unforgettable – but the real fun hasn’t started yet.
A 5,500-watt generator is turned on and the boat’s perimeter is illuminated by 16 halogen lights suspended overhead. The drone of bullfrogs and insects merge with the night in a cacophony of sounds. The eyes of dozens of reptiles, animals and birds are aglow and you are transfixed by the magic of the prolific Mississippi River Delta. Raccoons, nutria and otters scamper about. And in the water, schools of redfish, sheepshead and black drum forage for food on the banks. Nearby, schools of mullet move in tight packs, and a lone flounder lays on the bottom motionless.
A few years ago, airboats were used almost exclusively as work vessels in the petroleum exploration industry. This shallow-draft, aluminum craft proved to be the perfect vehicle to access impenetrable areas of the south Louisiana marshes and swamps. But airboats quickly became known as the ultimate craft for getting to redfish in isolated areas. A handful of sportsmen began “hunting” for redfish with bow and arrow, and the sport of marsh bowfishing became popular.
There is probably no one more experienced at this than Capt. Rodney Boudreaux, a Plaquemines Parish native. Boudreaux is one of the few bowfishing guides in southeast Louisiana.
“Just the airboat ride alone is amazing,” said Boudreaux, who owns and operates Deep Delta Bowfishing. “We’ll take you through these little sloughs where there is less than two inches of water. These are places that you could never get into in anything other than an airboat.”
Whether you’re an experienced bowhunter or angler, or it is your first time in the outdoors, you’re sure to have the experience of a lifetime.
“I’ve never had anyone say they wouldn’t want to do it again,” said Capt. Boudreaux. “Everyone absolutely loves it.”