From the sloughs, rivers, marshes, bays and bayous of the nation, hunters are heading homeward this week after one of the most successful duck-shooting seasons in decades. As 1956 moved to a close, waterfowl funneled down the Mississippi Flyway, building to tremendous numbers in the low, lush wintering grounds formed by the great river and its many tributaries, interrupting their journey to linger on the hundreds of feed-filled lakes. Few hunters were more eager—or better prepared—to receive them than the 18 members of Missouri's Cuivre Club. Only 50 miles from St. Louis, in a kind of special super-heaven tucked away in the heaven that this area has come to represent for duck hunters, these men, business leaders not only of St. Louis but of the nation, foregathered each week at their massive 18-bedroom clubhouse (above), pondering early-morning blind positions, weather forecasts, current census reports. To the south, on a 50-by-25-mile stretch of rice-rich watery land around Stuttgart in eastern Arkansas, waterfowl crowded in millions to the bayous of the Duck Capital of the World. At Stuttgart's nine-member, 640-acre Drakes' Landing Club, the shooting last week had never been better. How good it was is shown on the following pages, in a unique photographic visit to Drakes' Landing and the Cuivre Club at the closing of a great duck-hunting year.
Morning of hunt (above) finds members ready at their cars. Here (left to right) are Richard Baldwin, Steedman-Baldwin Co.; Charles A. Thomas, president, Monsanto Chemical Co.; John H. Crago, Smith, Moore Co.; Henry M. Cook, Newhard, Cook Co.; Russell E. Gardner Jr., Reinholdt Gardner Co.; John H. Hayward, Reinholdt Gardner Co.; J. Wesley McAfee, president, Union Electric Co.; Sidney Maestre, chairman, Mercantile Trust Co.; Ira E. Wight Jr., Newhard, Cook Co.; and James H. Grover, retired chairman, St. Louis Union Trust Co. Below, Gardner, Grover, Cook and Crago review day with (left) David Calhoun Jr., president, St. Louis Union Trust Co.; Edwin H. Steedman, Steedman-Baldwin Co.; and Tom K. Smith, chairman, Boatmen's Bank.
COMFORT IS A KEYNOTE
A hundred years and four generations have passed since the first St. Louis hunters fought their way up the roily Mississippi to the barren, mud-covered plains near what is now O'Fallon, Mo., and set up camp on the tiny Cuivre River. A superhighway has since replaced the ruts of wagon trails, and a luxurious clubhouse stands where canvas tents once were pitched. Inside, everything is ready for the club members' comfort and convenience. Across from the clubhouse a staff of cooks prepares dinner in the dining building and sends an immaculately attired butler to announce the hour. In the kennels handlers feed ribbon-winning Labradors, while lights in the tackroom cast shadows on guides oiling guns and readying equipment. In the morning, at their leisure, the hunters will wend their ways to fog-blanketed blinds scattered across the waters, climbing into sunken olive barrels to wait for the birds.
Flickering fire warms David R. Calhoun Jr. (above, center) after chilly hour's ride from St. Louis. Comfortably settled on couch in foreground, John Hayward and James Grover relax and speculate on weather conditions for next day's hunt.
Around the poker table, Edwin Steedman, Tom K. Smith and Grover wait for others to arrive before drawing cards for morning's blind positions. Present ranch-type building was completed two years ago after fire destroyed club in 1953.
Quiet Relaxation is assured in private bedrooms, each one marked with a brass nameplate. Grover, a spry hunter at 83, reads before turning in.
Adjoining tackroom harbors neatly stowed hunting gear. Charles Thomas uses jack to remove boots.
Scanning skies, Russell Gardner Jr. (foreground) and Richard Baldwin head for blinds in decoy-laden aluminum motor skiff.
Boost from guide helps Gardner (above) climb into sunken blind. Below, with partner Baldwin, he aims at ducks overhead.