It was November, and the ducks and geese had been filling the pale wintry skies for weeks; so thick, there were moments the sun appeared to be lost behind a cloud of feathers. Looking up, a flash of a duck’s glossy green head, its chestnut breast and silvery-white belly as it soars over flooded rice, corn and bean fields looking for the ideal place to light. As the white-lined wings flap with a whisper , the purplish-blue wing patch is evident; its tail feathers edged in white.
A migrating male mallard duck settles on the icy water, its yellow bill catching the early morning sunlight. Soon the colorful male is joined by a profusion of large, mottled brown females, orange bills plunging into the water in search of wild rice, vegetable matter and even mosquito larvae. More and more mallards settle atop the rippling water.
Blue- and green-winged teal join the mix.
The handsome streamlined outline of the American Pintail with its brown head and white underparts and neck comes over the horizon, joining the mallards and teal.
Duck season has begun and Johnny Wink is ready.
Johnny Wink, owner and proprietor of Megabucks Duck Guide Service located in Jones, Louisiana beneath the Mississippi Flyway, has been offering premium duck and goose hunts for 35 years, since he was a teenager. Megabucks itself has been in operation since 1979. One of the things that makes Megabucks so special is its location beneath the Mississippi Flyway.
Louisiana winters the largest concentration of migrating waterfowl in America. At the Arkansas-Louisiana state line, the flyway narrows to a one-mile bottleneck where seventy percent of all migrating waterfowl will pass. Stand in the yard at Megabucks and look up. This mile-wide bottleneck is directly overhead Megabucks.
Duck season currently lasts for 60 days. During those 60 days, Megabucks will stay booked. There are repeat regulars who have standing reservations each year. There are newcomers. Hunters have come from as far away as Scotland, Canada and all over the United States. There is no typical duck hunter. They come from every walk of life, come in a variety of age groups and nationalities. The only thing they all have in common is their desire to enjoy a successful hunt. Johnny Wink does his dead-level best to ensure that goal is reached.
“All I do is what I would want a guide to do for me,” said Johnny. “I have listened to my guests for 35 years, learning what they like and don’t like.” With this in mind, Johnny does everything in his power to make each individual hunt memorable.
As a result of years of dedication , coming to Megabucks is the epitome of an ideal duck hunting experience. Not only do hunters leave with their limit of ducks and geese, they generally go home with a promise to return the following year. Johnny offers an array of amenities not found in most duck camps. No hardship hunt here, the lodging is similar to “roughing it at the Hilton.”
“In fact, a maid comes in every other day,” Johnny said. “You won’t find that at very many duck camps. My customer’s comfort is one of the most important services I offer. They might be able to go somewhere else and kill ducks, but I guarantee they won’t find anywhere else where they will be treated better than here at Megabucks.”
In other words, duck hunting with Johnny Wink means nobody suffers any hardships. Besides providing maid service, Megabucks consists of two full-service lodges. Twelve beds are available in the main lodge and eight beds in the new camp. Both lodges have full kitchens. The main lodge has three bathrooms and the new camp has two. Because Megabucks is family-friendly, many hunters bring their wives and kids to hunt with them.
“I encourage hunters to bring their dogs,” said Johnny. There are covered kennels at both lodges. Duck hunters know a good duck dog is worth its weight in gold. Johnny has three superb resident hunting dogs: A yellow lab named Hollywood, a chocolate named Lucy and a golden named Stonely.
“I love them all,” he said about his three dogs, and then he gave a sweep of his arm to encompass the rest of the critters making Megabucks their home. Guests might have to shoo a turkey or a kitten off the yard swing before taking a seat, but it doesn’t get much better than this. They soon realize coming to Megabucks is akin to visiting a homey country farm. Wandering around are a couple curious cats, several impressive turkeys raised from babies, a few crowing roosters and a clutch of cackling hens. There are some fascinating fleet-footed guineas interspersed with a couple quacking ducks.
“Most hunters take their ducks and geese home with them after a hunt,'” said Johnny. “We have a great place to clean birds with cleaning machines or next door is the local duck plucker if you want someone else to clean them for you.”
Over the years, Johnny has found that some hunters like to stay up late, others turn in early. Because everyone has their specific habits and needs, Johnny arranges hunts in intimate parties of four or more. This way, no one has to share the lodge with strangers.
At the end of the day, guests can unwind sitting around a crackling fire in the Texas fire pit, soak lazily in the six-person hot tub, or while away the evening hours playing in the super-size game room and bar. Here they can indulge in playing pool, foosball, slot machines or just kick back and thumb through multiple photograph albums of past hunts and spectacular sunrises. Another option is relaxing in front of the 65-inch big screen TV with surround sound..
Johnny does not provide hunting licenses. It is the responsibility of the hunter to purchase his license in advance. Guns and ammunition are the responsibility of the hunter as is bringing their own rain gear, hip boots or chest waders. They must also provide their own food and drink.
That being said, Johnny does supply transportation to and from five blinds.
“I just put a deposit down for a new 20-foot pit blind ,” said Johnny. This will bring the number of 20-foot pit blinds to three; each complete with all the tip-top duck blind bells and whistles. “There are always plenty of decoys out, including some nice Mojo’s in the fields to bring the ducks down.”
Megabucks offers more than 6,000 acres of private land holdings on which to hunt; 1,400 acres of flooded rice, corn and bean fields for ducks and over 5,000 of dry fields for geese.
Additionally, everybody who hunts at Megabucks is eligible for a bonus unguided afternoon goose hunt. For a little extra, deer hunts are also available.
Johnny sums it up by saying, “The hardest thing in duck guiding is not to be the best duck caller or to have the biggest and finest lodge, or even the best duck blinds, but it is to get a hunter from across the street or from across the country to come and pay you to hunt. I feel that it is an honor to have someone do that. We don’t limit out every day but we do kill a lot of ducks.”
Johnny invites everyone to look at all the photographs on his website; the successful hunts will speak for themselves. Visit www.johnnywink.com.
“I have a lot of repeat customers who are my close friends now. Sharing a duck blind with friends is a special thing. I try to make everybody who hunts at Megabucks my friend. I am thankful to all my customers who have come and hunted with us. I hope we can have many more fine days in the blind. Duck season is just around the corner. Get fired up!”
If you want to hunt with Johnny, call 318-669-3757. Call soon. Megabucks fills up fast.