In 1979, I was invited to the "Duck Funnel Hunt Club" by Tommy Sanders. I had hunted in the marshes of Louisiana, and lakes around North Louisiana, where he was raised. Having never hunted flooded green timber, I found that first morning that timber hunting for Mallards was the type of hunting that I wanted to spend my life doing. The next year, I joined Sanders in the cost of the "Hole", and so began our history of hunting at Banfield's. From 1979 until 1988, the year Lester Banfield sold the club to the "Winchester Hunting Club".
I left the Duck Funnel that year, knowing that we had experienced hunting that we could not possibly ever replace.
I leased a block of woods just about 3 miles east of Banfield's known as the "Landers Woods". Me and family and friends hunted there for 3 years. It was good timber hunting, but did not sustain the power to hold ducks for extended periods through the hunting season like I had experienced at Banfield's.
I left Desha County in 1992. I moved on to hunt the White River Bottoms just north of I-40 in Biscoe, Arkansas. It was a good year, the White River flooded out of it's banks.
In 1994, the I entered into an agreement to purchase 454 acres of timber and a small rest area just south of Fair Oaks, Arkansas. This tract proved to be a good experience for me in the restoration of this old hunting club. I restored all of the original levies, added relifts and water control systems, and built a lodge. I purchased the land with Lee Osborne in 1998. The hunting club proved to be a good draw for ducks, and the 454 acres provided very good hunting for several years. During that tenure, My friends and I that had hunted Banfield's in the early years, continued to compare all green timber hunting to the times at Banfield's. It was a good club with good green timber hunting, but never as good as Banfield's. The club was sold in 2004.
After two years of little or no hunting, I found myself on the internet looking for green timber properties for sale. On a Sunday nite in December of 2006, I was researching hunting broker websites. Much to my pleasant surprise, Hopkins Wildlife Properties and it's agent, Charlie Ferguson had listed 1946 acres in Desha County, Arkansas. I immediately recognized the name Charlie Ferguson as Lester Banfield's Son-In-Law. I had known Charlie during my hunting days at Banfield's. The nest day, a call went out to Charlie inquiring about the property. For 6 months, I negotiated with Neil Banfield. A contract was eventually entered into, and I had regained control of an old dream.
In August of 2007, My Family began the reconstruction of the habitat. We added roads through the timber for ease of access to the timber holes. We added a reservior on the east side of the property for water control and storage. In addition, pumps, wells, pitt blinds, slough blinds, and other habitat and hunting improvements were added. Also, construction began on a hunting lodge and reconstruction of the lake that sits in front of the lodge. The lodge will be one of the only duck hunting lodges in the delta that sits in a green timber reservior.
Sometime patience is rewarded by realization of a dream. Mine was....
Gary R. Gibbs