Seven Devils

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Slick

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True story.

There’s a place in South East Arkansas called*Seven*Devils*Wildlife Management Area. It’s a 3,500 acre cypress and Tupelo gum swamp. These trees are well over 100’ and flared out at the base to a width of 8-12’. They only grow in water. These particular ones in this swamp are hundreds of years old and are some of the largest on earth. It’s called Seven Devils because seven*creeks come together in this one spot. Someone got lost in there many years ago and finally found their way out. When ask about the*seven*creeks he was reported to have said that there were*seven*devils*in there. And the name stuck. There’s not any place like it on earth in my opinion. Daytime pictures don’t do it justice. Motoring through this swamp in the black of night with a Q-beam light is an experience you would not forget. Everything looks exactly the same. It’s completely otherworldly and eerie doesn’t begin to describe the experience. There are no defining landmarks of any kind. However, to the person that has been in there at night a few times, it gets easier to spot the trails of the creeks that are deeper and wind through the seemingly unending maze of tree sameness. When I hunted this area it was not yet a WMA and was owned by a timber company that allowed public waterfowl hunting in the area. And it was very good hunting as the area all around*Seven*Devils*was all agriculture consisting of rice, corn and millet. The swamp was used by ducks as a resting area after they had their fill of grain.

Here's a video taken by a friend of mine and it's very close to Seven Devils and looks just like it. YouTube - ttenni's Channel

There was an area near the west end of the swamp that was probably a couple of hundred acres in size that was higher ground than the rest of the swamp. It was only a couple of feet higher but enough to keep it dry and support deciduous trees. At one time this area had oak trees growing on it surrounded by swamp. Sometime back in the 40’s this area caught fire one summer and burned completely up. After that the swamp began to be used for water fowling and this area became known as the “burnover”. The whole swamp was flooded with a gate that they would close on the last outflow creek to make sure the area had plenty of water on it during duck season. This caused the burnover to start producing young cypress trees by the thousands. They were about 10-12’ high. And right smack in the middle of the burnover was a hole that we called the “suckhole”. It was a large hole where someone had cut all the trees down. You have to imagine a few thousand acres of huge cypress and tupelo gum a hundred feet tall with 200 hundred acres of 10' high trees in the middle of that and then a nice clear open hole in the middle of that. To a duck it was like a sign pointing to "duck central loafing spot". If a duck flew over, it was like they were caught in a vortex and couldn’t get out. This hole defined what the word “suckhole” meant. It was unbelievable. Needless to say, this is the place you wanted to get to first.*

It was this place that myself and a friend named Phil found ourselves headed to at four in the morning one January day in pursuit of mallards. It was a balmy 25 degrees that day. Phil was a big guy. Really big. Tall and heavy set with a no nonsense sort of personality. He was king of crappie catchers and not too bad with the ducks either. We were in my Jeep and had my boat on the trailer behind us as we pulled up to the water’s edge. There wasn’t a ramp, only the dirt road leading off into the water. We got the boat launched without problems and were soon motoring out into the black swamp using the big light to see our way.

It wasn’t too far from the put-in spot through the big trees until you broke out into the burnover. I was at the motor and Phil was on the middle seat in front of me. As we motored through the huge trees I asked Phil if he remembered to bring his shell box as I did not see it in the boat. He had the light but as he leaned back in the boat to feel around for his shell box the light went straight up into the tree tops and I was motoring blind in the dark. Here I am motoring blind and the front of the boat is kicked up really high due to Mr. Big Phil leaning way back in the boat.

Suddenly I felt the boat start to go vertical. Water was pouring in over the transom in one big rush and I felt the back end of the boat going under. I yelled to Phil “We’re sinking!. Jump!”.

We both jumped together as if on cue. I was so relieved when my feet hit bottom. That relief was soon replaced with the realization that water was pouring in over the top of my chest waders. And it was cold. Nothing I could do about it. The light had went out and we were standing next to my boat in the dark and in ice cold water. I looked at Phil standing beside me and said “Wow! That’s cold huh?” He asked “what are you talking about?” I looked over at him and the water line was a good 4” below the top of his waders. I suppose that made sense. He was 6” taller than me. I asked him “you’re not getting any water in your waders?” “Nope. I’m good” was the reply.*

We had driven up on a cypress knee which caused the back end to squat under the water and sink us. They are part of a cypress's root system.
 
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Slick

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The flotation under the boat seats did their job and kept the boat floating despite being filled with water. We spent the next 30 minutes bailing the water out with a 1 lb coffee can that had been serving as part of an alcohol heater until then. Finally we were able to drag the boat over to a cypress tree, where the water was only 2’ deep around the base, and get back in. It was beginning to get light by then and we were able to pick out features around us. I had two paddles in the boat and we were able to stroke our way through the thick fog that had settled in and eventually found the way back to the launch. I was frozen to the point of shaking by then.

We decided to try and salvage the hunt. I had one of those round Coleman catalytic heaters in the Jeep and it was full of camp fuel. I turned it upside down and let the wick get soaked. Now that makes a big flame when you fire it up with the wick full like that. I turned my waders inside out and dried them out over the flame. We took turns pulling on the motor starter cord but it wouldn’t start. As luck would have it the 15 hp Johnson of mine had electric start. which I had never used. I pulled the Jeep down next to the water and hooked up jumper cables to the two leads from the outboard to the truck. After a minute of high speed electric cranking the motor started up with a belch of white smoke. We were in business. Almost.

I had a complete change of dry clothes in the jeep except for socks. I made the comment to Phil that I wasn’t liking the idea of having to wear those waders with no socks. That’s when he said "Man I’m glad I’m not you. I always wear four pair of socks to keep my feet warm.” I just stared at him for a minute before I asked “You’ve got four pair of socks on?” “Yeah” he replied. I said “Give me a pair”. To which he said “I need all of them to keep my feet warm.” To which I said “Give me a pair.” This went on for a while with me explaining how selfish it was for him to have four pair of socks while I went without. None of this seemed to have an effect on him until I said “Fine, lets load up the boat and go home.” It was, after all, my truck and my boat. I was in the driver’s seat there. Finally he agreed to let me borrow a pair of his socks and we were off on our duck hunting adventure once again.

It was full on daylight by this time but we hadn’t heard a shot so we were still in hopes that the blind in the suckhole was still vacant. We motored out to the hole and to our delight no one was there. We quickly threw out some decoys and headed for the blind.

This blind was built in a 5’ x 14’ rectangle and was attached to 4 young cypress trees. It was an open box attached to the trees about 7’ off the water. The bottom part was wrapped in old canvas so that you could slide your boat under the blind and it would be hidden. The entrance was a ladder going up to a trap door in the floor on one end.*

I was the first one in the blind and Phil was handing guns and ammo up through the hatch to me when I spotted a nice flock of mallards off in the distance. I instinctively put my duck call to my lips and gave a long, loud hail call. The ducks immediately turned toward us. Phil was still under the blind standing in about 2’ of water but he could see the flock coming because the tarp on the end was still drawn aside from us getting the boat underneath. Just as the ducks were passing over head I heard Phil whisper “Slick, give me my gun.”, but I knew I had to hit them with another call or they would sail on down and away. I called at them and they immediately turned and dropped their wings and began a glide to the decoys. Again I heard Phil whisper, only louder this time, “Slick, give me my gun”. I couldn’t move a muscle as they were looking right at the hole so I just kept my head down and let them come. The whole time I could hear Phil getting louder as he hissed “Slick, give me my gun”.

It was a big flock of probably 40-50 mallards. The sun was shining and it was crispy cold. You could hear the wind rustle through their wings as they started backpedaling into the middle of the spread. I was sitting on the bench inside the blind as 50 mallards glided up to me in front of my face and pulled back their wings and began to swivel their heads as they looked for a spot to settle down in.

Somehow both of our shotgun’s had managed to load themselves after they were lifted up through the trap door. I don’t know. I only know that I grabbed my gun as I stood up and proceeded to take out three greenheads that were sticking their breasts out at me 2’ above the water and not more than 20’ in front of the blind. As the rest of the bunch began to lift up I picked up Phil’s Remington and unloaded on three more as they were making their escape. I stood there and surveyed the scene. There were six greenheads floating in the middle of the decoy spread. This was before I began to own retrievers so I asked Phil if he would mind picking up the ducks for me. What he said to me was not very nice and totally uncalled for, in my opinion.

And what he said I can not repeat on this forum. Phrases that involved my mother and other members of my family. I asked him if he still wanted his gun but that was only met with another round of interjections about me and my family. I tried to tell him that I couldn’t give him his gun as the ducks would have seen my movement but he didn’t believe that. Eventually he waded out and picked up the ducks. On the way back to the blind I told him that I thought he was just mad about having to give me his socks. I probably shouldn’t have said that because, looking back, I think he’d forgotten about the socks, until then. But he didn’t say a word. So I said “That’s what happens to people who are stingy with their socks”. Still nothing. So I said “Do you want to go home? I’ve got my limit so that would be alright with me.” Still no reply.

Phil disappeared under the blind and I heard him toss the ducks into the boat. Then I heard him rummaging around in the boat for something. I looked down the trap door hole and saw him coming up the ladder with a five gallon storage bucket that I had put in the boat when we went back after our sinking episode. One of those that has the padded camo swivel top. I didn’t know what he was up to but I figured I’d pressed my luck with him about as far as I dared so I didn‘t say anything. Did I mention he was a big guy? He got inside, closed the trap door and set the bucket down on top of it. Then he walked over, picked up my gun and his gun and went back and sat down on the bucket. I asked him what he thought he was doing. He replied “I’m sitting right here until I get my limit.” And that’s exactly what happened. I was even nice enough to call some ducks in for him. After all I had nothing better to do. Did I mention that he was a big guy?


The End
 
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OnTheFly

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Hey...what are good friends for anyway...lmao.Great story!
 
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Slick

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I see that no one appreciates long winded stories here. OK, but when I become a famous author you'll all be sorry.:lol: You'll be wanting my autograph but it'll be too late.
 
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OnTheFly

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No one? I thought it was well composed. Here.....here's a rep point.:cool:
 
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DB Crouper

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I see that no one appreciates long winded stories here. OK, but when I become a famous author you'll all be sorry.:lol: You'll be wanting my autograph but it'll be too late.

I like long winded stories, so much that I sometimes read them twice. But I digress...
 
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Slick

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I like long winded stories, so much that I sometimes read them twice. But I digress...
Thanks DB. But since I know that you wake up in a different world every day, that doesn't count.:tongue:

Hey, my monkey's smokin now!! But I digest....
 
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DB Crouper

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Thanks DB. But since I know that you wake up in a different world every day, that doesn't count.:tongue:

Hey, my monkey's smokin now!! But I digest....

Just to clarify, do I wake up in the same different world everyday, or in a new different world everyday? Please be succinct, as I am confused, and don't know where I am.
I did notice that your monkey's smokin' again. Hope it doesn't shorten his life span on OFF.
 
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Slick

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No one? I thought it was well composed. Here.....here's a rep point.:cool:
Sorry OnTheFly. Didn't mean to infer that you are a no one. Thanks for the kind words. I don't know what a rep is though.
 
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Slick

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Just to clarify, do I wake up in the same different world everyday, or in a new different world everyday? Please be succinct, as I am confused, and don't know where I am.
I did notice that your monkey's smokin' again. Hope it doesn't shorten his life span on OFF.
A new different world silly.
 
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TTFishon

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Nice video and nice story. Normally I pass on reading the longer posts but for some reason I read yours. :)
 
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Hawk

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Have You Kissed a Bass Today???
Right ON Bro.
Great Story...:clap::clap::clap::lol::lol::lol::cool:

I love the cypress swamps & bass fishin', catfish.

Watch out fer the mocassins.:shock:
 
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TTFishon

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Right ON Bro.
Great Story...:clap::clap::clap::lol::lol::lol::cool:

I love the cypress swamps & bass fishin', catfish.

Watch out fer the mocassins.:shock:

That's what I was wondering. Looked very bassy to me.
 
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OnTheFly

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Sorry OnTheFly. Didn't mean to infer that you are a no one. Thanks for the kind words. I don't know what a rep is though.
Reps are shown by the color bar as seen above your monkey. The more you get means people like what you say or they gave you some for the heck of it therefore it is not an accurate way to gage someones popularity. I for one wish it to be disabled because it indicates someone who is more popular than others and I believe instead we should be at a round table. If reps become something you care for, just keep writing like you do and I guarrantee you'll pass us all.
 
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Slick

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Rep point #2. Heaven help us. Got any more hunting stories?
DB
I think I do. I'll pull one out tomorrow. It's a deer hunt story. True also. I'll break it up so it's not so long winded.

Rep points don't sound like something I care for so I'll ignore and refrain on that. I did wonder what the green bar was all about though.

And you guys are right. Very, very bassy. Full of bass, crappie, blue channel and bluegill (called bream down there) and a couple of other species that you probably haven't heard of like a grinnel. Very prehistoric and nasty. Also alligator gar.
 
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OnTheFly

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I think I do. I'll pull one out tomorrow. It's a deer hunt story. True also. I'll break it up so it's not so long winded.

Rep points don't sound like something I care for so I'll ignore and refrain on that. I did wonder what the green bar was all about though.

And you guys are right. Very, very bassy. Full of bass, crappie, blue channel and bluegill (called bream down there) and a couple of other species that you probably haven't heard of like a grinnel. Very prehistoric and nasty. Also alligator gar.
Now you're getting weird.
 
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