Please keep in mind the writer of this information is doing so from memories retained over the past 30 plus years. If any information is not accurate or omitted please excuse the error.
Cow Island Hunting Club was formed in 1973 by Michael Burke Sr. That was the year of the high water in the Atchafalaya Basin and surrounding swamp and marshes. Crawfish could be caught by hand crossing the levees and in the marshes and swamps where we have not seen them since. This was also a time when it was fashionable to wear fur coats. The price of nutria, raccoons, otters, and muskrats was high and the animals were plentiful on Cow Island. Lease members were added and soon we were hunting ducks on Cow Island. Michael built a small houseboat that was filled every weekend with all sorts of family and friends. Uncle Randy would cook and use so much pepper those of us who were kids would wonder if we would survive to see adulthood. In 1976 we began to build the famous A-Frame on Cow Island. It was completed a couple of years later and has survived 3 generations of floods, hurricanes, good times, and one barbecue pit fire.
Trapping Nutria and Hunting Alligators
Michael trapped the first two seasons with a partner. During the 1975-1976 trapping season all operations were moved to our house on Morris Street. It was there that all of the skinning, fleshing, nailing, and drying of the pelts took place. The girls said it smelled really bad. We thought it smelled like money.
My brother Peter and I learned to skin, flesh, and nail hides at an early age. Daddy (Michael Sr.) worked a full time job during trapping season. We had help from friends and relatives, like our cousin Jeff Curry, friend Bart Brumfield, and especially Donny Pontiff. During the peak years we were processing over 2000 nutria a year. By the time I was 14 and Peter was 12 we were handling all of the processing duties of over 2000 animals per season.
In 1979 the State of Louisiana finally reopened a limited alligator season. We were able to obtain over 120 tags. Alligator hunting in those days required all gators to be skinned, fleshed, and salted. Much like processing nutria, Peter and I became very proficient in skinning alligators.
In 1981 I graduated from high school and joined the workforce. Daddy and Peter continued to trap and hunt alligators with little help from me.
to be continued..........