For Jared Serigne, returning home to Chalmette, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina was an awakening. He didn’t grow up duck hunting, but newfound awareness of the vast wetlands resource outside the levees eventually lead him into it. It was then that he began understanding that the land outside the levees was an imperiled part of Sportsman’s Paradise. And that by using his professional film background he could do something about it.
A Sportsman’s Paradise
So, the blue winged teal is the number one duck I shoot year round, so I already have a reverence for that bird because I mean, that’s the bird that feeds the family.
Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, today it is the 4th day of blue winged teal season. I am down in – where am I? What parish am I in right now?
Jared Serigne: You’re in the parish, Saint Bernard Parish.
Ramsey Russell: Saint Bernard Parish, having fun outside the levees with today’s guest Jared Serigne, who’s got an amazing YouTube channel by the same name. Jared, that was a hell of a hunt this morning, I enjoyed it.
Jared Serigne: Yeah, it was good. We don’t get a lot of September cool fronts and we’re at the very bottom of the continent.
Ramsey Russell: Man, that was some real different weather for Louisiana. That was real different weather this morning with a 10 mile an hour north wind blowing, it was 72°, 61% humidity, that was refreshing for this part of the world. I didn’t see that little alligator out in a duck hole today either.
Jared Serigne: They don’t like any kind of September cool front, they don’t like it at all.
Ramsey Russell: Starts chasing them into their holes.
Jared Serigne: Yeah, it slows them down a lot.
Ramsey Russell: What does teal season mean to you? What is it about blue winged teal? Is that like a part of your seasonal lineup or is it just something you do?
Jared Serigne: So, the blue winged teal is the number one duck I shoot year round, so I already have a reverence for that bird because I mean, that’s the bird that feeds the family. If I didn’t have blue wings, I wouldn’t shoot a lot of ducks in the areas I hunt. So, my teal season hunting is not that much different from my November and December hunting, so there’s that side of it, I’m just basically hunting season for me. But you saw it right? Like that marsh is alive, son, I mean, we saw more plants than we could even identify.
Ramsey Russell: It’s beautiful. You’ve got submerged aquatics, you’ve got a lot of different herbaceous vegetation and we were in that first part, which was deeper water. But then the birds were kind of flying a different line, so we moved further back and it was just incredible, all that duck potato, it was amazing and it’s not just the ducks, a lot of mottled duck, it’s the other bird life you see too. And that’s what I always enjoy about being in this part of the world.
Jared Serigne: And I don’t know about you, but I was watching the fish spraying, like all those little big fish kind of spraying across the surface of that water.
Ramsey Russell: Has that water got any salinity to it?
Jared Serigne: Very little.
Ramsey Russell: But there’s red fish in there at times.
Jared Serigne: Yeah. But red fish are very freshwater tolerant, they only need saltwater for breeding purposes. They could actually live their whole lives in freshwater, they just wouldn’t be able to spawn.
Ramsey Russell: I didn’t know. Do you red fish ever back in there?
Jared Serigne: I have yet to see them, where you and I hunted today is my third duck hunt, this is the beginning of my third duck season, I’ve yet to see redfish in there, I’m not saying they won’t be or certain times of year they aren’t, but I’ve yet to see them in there. But that doesn’t mean, that I’m sure if you went on a regular basis, you would eventually find a good school of red fish in there.
Ramsey Russell: Talk about A Sportsman’s Paradise, that’s your duck lease, but it’s year round, I’m sure you got some fresh water fish in there, maybe some red fish. But you were talking about crawfish and everything else.
Jared Serigne: Crawfish, frogs, yeah, I mean, that little duck hole you and I hunted, you could probably eat off of year round, no doubt.
Ramsey Russell: Isn’t that crazy?
Jared Serigne: Isn’t that crazy?
Ramsey Russell: Are you from right here?
Jared Serigne: No, I’m from Violet, which is a little bit further down the road from me. Here in Louisiana, we have a parish, not a county and I consider the community the entire parish, so if you lived in one little part of your county, it just depends on what your population is, but I consider the entire parish are my community. But if you want to get specific, I’m from the town of Violet within Saint Bernard Parish
Ramsey Russell: I see. Tell me about growing up here? What was it like growing up here? Because last night at dinner we had a nice little family restaurant and I really enjoyed those fried oysters some of the best I’ve ever had, it was a great conversation, I’m getting somewhere with you. But first I want to talk about just you growing up. How did you grow up here in Saint Bernard Parish?
Jared Serigne: So Saint Bernard is really two ends of the spectrum, so on our far eastern side is where it’s bayous, that part of the parish was started by the Spanish people that came here from the Canary Islands in the 1700s. You had some French people here before that, but really the Canary Islanders are the one that turned that into a settlement and they’re the ones who learned to fish the waters and they’re the ones who supplied the seafood to New Orleans. Now, let’s flip that around. So we talked about the eastern end, now, on our western end, you get much closer to the city of New Orleans, you’re only a couple of miles from the city from downtown New Orleans on our western end. So that part of the parish started to become more influenced by people who were leaving the city of New Orleans in the 50s and they sort of settled that. So we got deep roots in history on our eastern end, I’m saying going back to the 1700s. So, we’re also very influenced about everything that happened in New Orleans because a lot of our residents were people who moved down from New Orleans in the 21st century.
Ramsey Russell: Did you hunt and fish growing up?
Jared Serigne: I did not, no. It skipped a generation, so my grandfather, great grandfather, they grew up on the bayou and they hunted and fished to live, that was their sustenance. And it skipped a generation at my father, it just wasn’t his deal, he had other interests and I don’t blame him and that was a time when things really got modernized too. So, things like that interested him was computers. I mean, hell, my dad had one of the first computers in Saint Bernard Parish.
Ramsey Russell: Really?
The Levee Breaks During Katrina
So there was a total revival of this region in that year after Katrina and it just whatever it was and me something clicked, I was like, man, where I am from is a very special place and what part of the conversation came to was levees, right?
Jared Serigne: Yeah. So, I mean, that’s stuff he was interested in. And of course, I mean fishing is very expensive too and we were very much a working class family and between the fact that it was something that he really loved to do and then the expenses of it, so I didn’t really get exposed to it. But what I was exposed to was the culture surrounding all of it. I mean, I grew up, by the age of 6 years old I could peel a crawfish faster than a grown man from Wisconsin. So, I grew up around that food and the way that we celebrate food, the way that we’re around food and then Mardi Gras, so that’s where my roots lie, not necessarily in the hunting part of it all and the way that we live, I mean, you get down here, these people are vibrant, it just bubbles up out the ground, the culture. So I got that side of it and then once I moved back from Katrina, I started to see that this place was really special and that’s when I started to get into the bayou and see what that was all about too.
Ramsey Russell: What do you mean when you move back from Katrina?
Jared Serigne: So Katrina set most people astray even if it was for only a few months at a time. So this house you and I are in right now, I didn’t live here before the storm but there was water top to the ceiling. 100% flooded, this whole parish was 100% flooded for Katrina.
Ramsey Russell: You got a 12ft ceiling –
Jared Serigne: Well, not to the top but you see – yeah, I mean, this house had at least 9ft of water in it, no doubt.
Ramsey Russell: And you came back and what was it about coming back post Katrina? Because here’s what I was going to paint for people between here and where we hunted a day south of here, there’s still just empty, vacant houses that were gutted during Katrina that was decades ago. But what was it about coming back post Katrina that all of a sudden, connected you in this way to it?
Jared Serigne: Two things. Number one, I had been in North Louisiana, which is in its own way has its own culture and ways of life and then I spent a little bit of time in California, which has its own cultures and way of life. But I mean, you’re out there in California, you’re like, man, I would kill for shrimp right now, I would kill for some grilled oysters. So I get back and you got to realize the people who were here after Katrina really wanted to be here because we didn’t – the infrastructure wasn’t right, I mean, every other house was still being gutted, you still had that kind of muddy Katrina smell in the air, so you really want to be here. So there was a total revival of this region in that year after Katrina and it just whatever it was and me something clicked, I was like, man, where I am from is a very special place and what part of the conversation came to was levees, right? Like levees broke during Katrina. So I started to figure out, well, what is outside the levees, what is out there? What was out there is a vast system of wetlands that I really didn’t know how special it really was. And so as soon as I jumped into that, it was just a deep rabbit hole of like, oh my gosh, this is what exists outside of those levees that was supposed to protect us from Katrina. And then I started to learn about, well, Katrina was so bad because that marsh land and all those wetland that existed outside the levees, they’ve gone away, they started dying in the 1930s once they levied the Mississippi River. So that’s when I really started to learn about where I’m from.
Ramsey Russell: How old you have been, over this phase right here of moving back, become established awakening of outside the levee?
Jared Serigne: I think when I moved back, I was probably like 22 somewhere in that neighborhood, 23 years old.
Ramsey Russell: And it was like an awakening.
Jared Serigne: Everybody was going through it though, like everybody who – like I said, it was rebirth, rebirth was the theme after Katrina. There was a rebirth of this region, the rebirth of the city of New Orleans, rebirth of the Superdome, rebirth of the New Orleans Saints, everybody was going through that and just for me, it led to, like I said, discovering what the wetlands part of where I’m from is.
Ramsey Russell: Well, you told me this morning that, like myself, you didn’t really start duck hunting until about that era. So, you’d have been in your 20s.
Jared Serigne: And I come from a long line of duck hunters, I just had never – like I said, my pops and look, he’s his own man, it is what it is.
Magical Moments: First Duck Hunts
In fact, when I first started hunting that spot, there was an oak tree, he used to sit underneath this one particular oak tree and shoot passing wood ducks and that oak tree was still there when I started hunting, it’s gone now.
Ramsey Russell: Same here. My granddad was a duck hunter, he introduced me to hunting, I heard the stories, by the time I come along, my dad didn’t duck hunt.
Jared Serigne: But all I had to go on was one Ramsey.
Ramsey Russell: Tell me about that first duck hunt. Who you with, where you were?
Jared Serigne: Okay, which one –
Ramsey Russell: I want to hear that magical moment.
Jared Serigne: So this is how it started. So, of course, fishing is year round, so that whole year leading up, I had been fishing a ton and I’m like, man, I really want to try that duck hunting stuff that seems like a blast, it’s the same place as we fish, right, so I’m already getting exposed to those places. But down here, you can either go to some public land which was there some, but a lot of people have their own family properties and I knew, always growing up, I had heard my family has marsh land property. And when I say that that doesn’t mean that we were rich, that doesn’t mean that somebody in my family was rich and bought a bunch of property. What actually happened was they were fur trappers and they had a small piece of property, 80 acres that they fur trapped on, so that eventually became a place where people in the family duck hunted. And I knew this land existed, this marsh land existed, but I didn’t know anything about it.
Ramsey Russell: Here in this parish?
Jared Serigne: Here in this parish. So, first thing I had to do was go to the clerk of court at the courthouse and figure out like where on a map this place kind of is. My dad had a general memory of where it was, but he wasn’t 100%, so I’ll go pull the maps and so that’s what started the whole process. Then I called a cousin of mine like, hey, man, you ever went to that family? Because he’s a hunter, lifelong hunter, said you ever went to that property in our family? And he’s like, no, I never really hunted it before. So him and I got together on like figuring out where it is, we go scout it and at that time, it just happened to be in a place that was phenomenal blue wing teal hunting, so my first hunt was a teal hunt. Yeah, I went with a buddy of mine who had an outboard boat, he had all the equipment, but he lived in New Orleans and I said, man, you like duck hunting? He’s like, yeah, I said, oh, I got a place we can go. So he’s like, all right, let’s go. He had a little 16ft flat boat with probably like a 40 tohatsu on it and pirogue and he had all the equipment and I had the land and that’s how we started. I remember the first day we went, we showed up at the boat launch and then we went on an afternoon hunt, my first hunt was an afternoon hunt and we took that little outboard and at the time we were running the back route, well, nowadays you can’t run that back out route, like we probably shouldn’t even be back there, but we didn’t know it well enough, so we get out to the spot and man, like it’s so magical thinking back on it. Now, I could take you to that spot and it’s so mundane to me, I’m like, yeah, the spot isn’t that special, I know much better spots now. But that memory of that day, it turns that memory into such a special place, that little spot we hunted that day and we shot a few teal, I couldn’t hit, I didn’t know how to shoot yet but he shot a few and I got to see my – like, put my first one in my hand, put the first duck in my hand, it was so beautiful, that blue on the wing and then you’re smelling all that, like, warm September marshy stuff, that’s it, that’s all I needed was one.
Ramsey Russell: The smell of duck.
Jared Serigne: Yeah. Even the duck has its own smell.
Ramsey Russell: Did it somehow connect you to those past generations?
Jared Serigne: 100% and this is the trip part of that.
Ramsey Russell: Because I find myself wondering when I pick up my granddad’s old shotgun or something. I mean, how can you not hold your grandad’s shotgun sitting out in the woods or hold a decoy? If you put yourself anywhere and say, what would my granddad thinking? What was he talking about? What was he doing?
Jared Serigne: 100%. So, the grandfather who would have probably taken me hunting, he died before I was born and all the time when people pass, talk about how great they were and how they never had an enemy, I genuinely believe he was that guy because I’ve met enough people now who say that about him, that he was entertaining, never met a stranger, all those qualities that people like to say about people when they pass, I think he genuinely was that guy, he’d sing and make people laugh, but I never got to know him, but I also heard he was a good cook. So I feel like through that, few years of learning the wetlands, I learned how to catch, like I learned how to do it, I learned how to cook, so it was me connecting with him even though I never even met him.
Ramsey Russell: Them roots grow deep, don’t they?
Jared Serigne: Very deep. In fact, when I first started hunting that spot, there was an oak tree, he used to sit underneath this one particular oak tree and shoot passing wood ducks and that oak tree was still there when I started hunting, it’s gone now.
Ramsey Russell: And this property was outside the levees, so to speak?
Jared Serigne: Outside the levees, yeah.
Twists & Turns in Life that Led to Duck Hunting
Ramsey Russell: You said, just a little while ago, Katrina that era, that age, you’d gone up to North Louisiana, you’d gone out to California, did that have something to do with your formal background, your formal training, your formal education?
Jared Serigne: Yeah. So, when Katrina hit, I was still in school at the University of New Orleans, well, that’s on the lakefront of New Orleans where Lake Pontchartrain sits and it was flooded out. So that school was closed for the entire semester, so I didn’t want to sit out a semester, I’m making progress, I’m about to graduate, I’m not sitting out. So I went to University of Louisiana, Monroe in North Louisiana and then I found out about an exchange program to be able to go to California. I looked at the map of the United States and I said, I want the closest school to the ocean and I picked CSU Monterey Bay, so I was in Monterey Bay for a semester.
Ramsey Russell: And what were you studying? Because honestly, last night, when you told me what your background was, I said, well, I should have known, but you really one of few people I’ve ever met that really did it like that. I mean, what was your education? What did you get into and how did you get into?
Jared Serigne: So, I was studying film and communications and at some point throughout my early college career, I was trying this, trying that and I said, man, I had always enjoyed that video class in high school and at that time, Louisiana was passing tax incentives for movies to come here, so I chose film, that was my course, that was what I wanted to focus on.
Ramsey Russell: And the film industry is huge. You were saying this morning in between volley that, at some point in time in history, Louisiana actually produced more films or something than California.
Jared Serigne: Yeah, than the state of California, I believe that. I know, it’s crazy.
Ramsey Russell: Of course, I probably have seen a lot of those movies.
Jared Serigne: Yeah, tons and tons of movies have been film here, tons of TV shows.
Ramsey Russell: What is somebody that’s in film school like that? What do you do? What do you do in school? Do you have to do a bunch of Math and English and Trigonometry? What do you do?
Jared Serigne: Yeah, I mean, I tried to get that stuff out the way as quickly as possible, so once that was done, my last year was mostly almost all film classes and I was part of the film program at University of New Orleans which at the time and I believe it still is, it was a pretty good public school film program, I mean, at that time, I think we were paying like $1,500-$2,000 a semester to go to UNO I mean, it was very affordable and the program was very good and we had a very dedicated group of people who were interested in film all there at the same time. And once again, getting back to that rebirth thing dude, we would go, we would film a movie almost every weekend, a little student movie every weekend. I remember one particular movie we all got together on, we were building out a set, we’d go into flooded houses and pull out crap from flooded houses, just whatever it was, an old refrigerator we pulled out or just pieces of things and we’d piece it all together and make a film set out of and we’d work day and night on these movies because like you have Saturday, Sunday to get all the content, you need to make a 10 minute film. So we’d work, that’s where I really learned how to take a concept and turn it into reality and how to put the work in and do it in film school.
Ramsey Russell: What did you think you were going to do with your life and career with that?
Jared Serigne: I wanted to direct, I really did. I wanted to be a director whether it was – I never had like, illusions that I direct feature films, I mean, it could have been commercials, it could have been independent films. But I wanted to be a director, I enjoyed acting too but I wanted to be a director.
Ramsey Russell: And then what, so you got out of school and where did that career, where did it take you?
Jared Serigne: It took me right into video production, so it left from actual film and movies into just someone needed a video to advertise this thing, so I started doing that. But what happened was, I wasn’t getting those calls consistently enough, so I decided to find a niche and the niche I originally found was kind of feeding off of that outside the levees thing, the environmental issues that were going on in Louisiana needed lots of attention. And at that time YouTube had just kind of really started to gain some traction, Facebook was starting to gain some traction. So I convinced an environmental group, I’m like, hey, you all need to be making videos about Louisiana’s coastal land loss, let me do them and let’s put them on Facebook, YouTube wherever you can get them some views at.
Ramsey Russell: Is it tough working in the proper film industry? Like, had you not thought of diverging into your own way? What’s it like working in that industry? And I’m trying to contrast it with how you work now and what you do now versus what you might have been doing?
Jared Serigne: To me, like this should be very telling of it. It seems like people who work in the movie industry have a high divorce rate because you’re not home a lot, you’re on set for 10, 12, 16 hours a day, it seems that the hierarchy of when you first get hired into the industry, where you might begin sort of at the lower end of the totem pole, I don’t know that those people get treated as well, I’m sure maybe it’s gotten better now. You are able to get unionized at some point and I think they do make decent money, but I think it just becomes your whole life. And as I was exploring the wetlands, I’m like, well, I’m not going to have time to go hunting and fishing, so I ain’t doing that shit.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, we all got to make a living but we got to have a life, that’s the whole purpose.
Jared Serigne: And I think it becomes their life.
Ramsey Russell: That’s the whole thing. It’s like a jealous mistress, I guess in that industry, like a lot of other professions. Because it’s like, when I look at your YouTube channel and your social media presence, some of the films I think of are the environmental issues you’re talking about. But it’s almost like a snapshot, it’s almost like this virtual, Louisiana experience because it’s fishing, it’s a small game, nutria rats which I know was a huge one, duck hunting, it’s all over but it’s like, a snapshot of this ongoing outside the levees in the sportsman’s paradise snapshot. How do you find your footing in that? Because outside the levees we covered a lot, we’ve talked about it a lot, it covers a wide scope of stuff. How do you find your footing?
Understanding the Value of Levees
Jared Serigne: So, I mean, I’ll tell you this, I believe every state has its version of what is outside the levees, for us, it literally means that a levee protects the homes and businesses and the other side of that is marsh lands, that’s where you get to play. But I think that it could be as simple as being just outside of town in a dove field in Mississippi or something. So, I mean, every place has its own version of what outside the levee means. And when I started it, I did not intend to film this much in Louisiana, I was like, well, I got to get over to Texas because, Texas has a big population, I got to get over to Florida, in fact, my 5th video I ever did was a Florida duck hunt and that was my intention. But as you learn, my job was to turn this into a profitable thing, it’s not profitable to travel when you’re not making a lot of money on YouTube yet. So, for me, it made more sense from a business standpoint to stay put here in Louisiana and do most of them here right now while it’s not one of the top earning YouTube channels in its genre to stay here and do it. And the truth is we have, you name the species, we got it. The only thing I can’t get here in St. Bernard Parish or in neighboring Plaquemines Parish is a turkey. Everything else I can pretty much get and then aside from like an offshore species tuna, red snapper, stuff like that, but we could catch sharks here, we could catch redfish, trout, crappie, all your freshwater fish, all of your big game animals, your white tailed deer, your feral hogs, all your small game, it’s all here, I don’t have to go anywhere.
Ramsey Russell: And beyond the hunting and fishing as you talked about earlier, the reason people moved back and came back to Louisiana and had this rebirth was because South Louisiana culture is so much bigger than just hunting and fishing.
Jared Serigne: It’s unmatched. I mean, the culture here really is there. I just don’t think there’s anything like it anywhere else and I don’t think the people are as in touch with it anywhere else. I mean, I know New York City has its own kind of thing going with culture. But New Orleans and the region, dude, it just bubbles out the ground, the cultures.
Ramsey Russell: It bubbles out the ground, I think it does.
Jared Serigne: It does. And so I’m always trying to figure out when I go do a duck hunt, is there a cultural aspect that I need to make sure I include or is there an environmental message I need to make sure I include? So you’re not just getting, a bunch of guys who go shoot and look, I love to do a shoot them up duck hunt video, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t think that resonates with people and I don’t think it’s going to grow my channel in the way that when I tie culture into something we do.
Ramsey Russell: I agree completely. Talk about some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on throughout this process. When did you say boom, I’m committing myself in this direction?
Jared Serigne: October of 2020 is when I finally decided to pull the trigger on it, I didn’t release a video until like November 1st of 2020, so technically November 1st or November 2nd somewhere in there, that was when I really went live with it. And it’s so funny you ask that because I could tell you my favorite 5 and I doubt any one of those 5 would be in my top 5 on views. So it’s an interesting thing to learn what I love and what I think is good is not necessarily what the YouTube viewership loves and thinks is good and I’m okay with that.
Favorite Duck Hunts & Duck Recipes
Like, I could eat duck like that every time, I don’t try to get too fancy with duck.
Ramsey Russell: That’s why I’m not interviewing them, I’m interviewing you. I want to know what projects speak to you and why?
Jared Serigne: So, I’d have to go back and breeze through them, but the one that’s sticking out to me still is my favorite was the opening day duck hunt of 2020. And just because opening day has such a special meaning to me, I’ve hunted it with the same friends since I started duck hunting 10, 12 years or however long it was, at the time, I didn’t even knew how many years it had been, we had made that same opening day duck hunt, one time, we missed that hunt together, but I think we followed it up on the Sunday. So opening day is always a Saturday, I think by Sunday we already hunted together. So it was just that like, I always wanted to do an opening day video, I don’t know if I quite captured the excitement of opening day because I had this idea. So like where I live in Saint Bernard, it leads out to all the marshlands, so you see every single duck boat that has to go to every single marina passes right here in front of my house. So I wanted to like somehow capture that excitement, but I think we wound up staying down there the night before. So, I didn’t quite get all that in but it was the first opening day duck hunting video I had ever done, even though I always said I wanted to do, I finally did it. And it just showed that friendship, that I have with this guy and how it’s a tradition for us and it was a good hunt. I think we did wind up shooting a limit and I cooked, so that was a special one.
Ramsey Russell: What did you cook?
Jared Serigne: I just showed people my favorite way to cook duck, which is to take a duck breast and salt it down real good, some pepper and cook it over a fire. Like, I could eat duck like that every time, I don’t try to get too fancy with duck.
Ramsey Russell: As you were describing an opening day and all the duck boats parading by this intersection, it just made me think of the opening day of dove season in Texas. If you go to any bucky or anywhere, wherever folks go to get gas and coffee on an opening day of dove season in Texas, it’s like the world’s largest army. But if you had to guess how many duck boats are going to roll down past your house? How many duck boats on opening day?
Jared Serigne: That’s a really good question.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, just throw a number out there.
Jared Serigne: I feel like my number is going to be way too conservative. I mean, I’d say we’d sit there and count easy 300, I feel like that’s too conservative.
Ramsey Russell: I would have said thousand.
Jared Serigne: That’s probably something close to that because you got to realize a lot of times too, you’re coming through Saint Bernard to even get to the Plaquemines stuff as well. So yeah, you’re probably closer to being right with 1000. I just don’t like to be the guy who’s like over – like, I saw 10,000 mud boat, I hate people when people over inflate numbers.
Ramsey Russell: 1000 duck boats versus 10,000 really ain’t much difference, you have to sit there and count them cover through. I could sleep like that. Why was that your favorite? Why was that the film that comes to mind?
Top Duck Hunting Videos
And man, it was one of those videos that I felt captured the culture of why duck hunting, it means so much to people in Louisiana.
Jared Serigne: Well, because duck hunting is that’s my love, man, that’s the one I love the most. And once again, man, I’d be the one YouTube loves the most, but that’s the activity that I love the most. But let’s see, there’s been other ones. The another one that I really loved was another duck hunt, so a buddy of mine, Tony has a camp, so down here, we call it a camp, it’s technically just a cabin, sometimes it’s in the marsh. Sometimes it’s near, I guess wherever the town is. But you say you’re going to the camp and that’s just any type of cabin, small house, whatever it is that you stay at when you go hunting, but it’s really unique, I think it’s a 15 mile boat ride from the marina and you get out there and it’s flat marsh lands and all of a sudden a big island of oak trees just out there in the middle of nowhere and there’s only two camps on it and he’s got one of them and he’s just someone who was really special to me because he believed at me at an early point in my career and gave me an opportunity that was really special and led to everything I do. And so it was a matter of spending time with him, but also getting to show how unique his camp was. One of the guys cooked this amazing gumbo and I showed you that, we showed you his Tony’s partner, goat. So down here, a lot of people have lived by nicknames and you don’t even know their real name, you just know them by their nickname. So we got to explain like how goat got his nickname, which is, that’s a big part of our culture. And man, it was one of those videos that I felt captured the culture of why duck hunting, it means so much to people in Louisiana.
Ramsey Russell: How did Goat get his nickname?
Jared Serigne: I think he said because he was always eating stuff when he was little. He was just eating whatever, he’d eat vegetables, that’s what it was, he’d eat all kinds of raw vegetables, so they called him goat. And he’s one of those people, I do know that real name, I’m questionable on it, but I think it’s Greg but I mean, no people you would know your whole life, you don’t quite know their real name.
Environmental Issues Outside the Levees
And then where I live, Katrina was the one that really took the most marshlands away from us.
Ramsey Russell: Back earlier, you were talking about Hurricane Katrina. You came back, they were just awakening and everybody was talking about the levees and everybody was talking about outside the Levees and everybody was talking about that Katrina that problem was so magnified and so catastrophic because of environmental issues outside the levees, because of the levees, what are some of those issues, Jared? What happened?
Jared Serigne: So Louisiana, as of today, we’ve lost and we’ve gained some in the last few years, but we’ve lost about 2300 square miles of wetlands along our bottom third our coast and if you want to know what 2300 square miles looks like that’s the state of Delaware. So you just take the state of Delaware, cut it off the map right now and that’s what Louisiana has lost in terms of wetlands and that all began – So Louisiana is, the southeast part is formed by the Mississippi River, right, all of Louisiana is formed by the river, but the southeast part in particular is still where the delta lies in the southeastern portion of the state. So, a river delta and this is any river delta in any part of planet Earth always is ever changing. Sometimes the river is going to run this way and then something’s going to happen, it’s going to change course and run the opposite way. So the wetlands that the river built up when it was running that way eventually subside, it takes thousands of years and but things subside and change always on a delta. So this delta we’re living on if left alone by man would still be changing today, some people even believe the Mississippi River would have changed course into the Atchafalaya River, which signs backs that and which is all fine. But that doesn’t mean the Mississippi river delta would have had just faded away. Well, in the 1930s, we had that big flood in 1927 on the river and the federal government got serious. They’re like, look, people died, we almost lost the city in New Orleans, we’re going to put up a big federal levee on that Mississippi River, so this does not happen again and they did to their credit. They built a phenomenal strong Mississippi river levee, what they didn’t know at the time was that once you put that levee on that Mississippi River, it can no longer feed out into those wetlands that formed the delta and rebuild them over time. So they put that river levee up, now we’re safe from flooding from that point on, from that point forward, you’re now at a negative on wetlands, you’re not gaining any more wetlands, you’re losing them faster than you’re building them. So that was what’s really started the erosion process that led to that 2300 square miles being gone.
Ramsey Russell: Because there’s no new sediment coming, that’s right to back fill it.
Jared Serigne: Now, it could have been happening at the Birds Foot Delta, which is where the Mississippi EMS into the gulf, however, that part of the river is managed for ship traffic. So the river is not allowed to slow down and continue forming a delta down there. So the levees do end about where you and I duck hunted today. So in theory from there south, the river should still be able to form a delta but it doesn’t, it’s channelized so that it stays deep for river traffic. So they’ve got jetty at the end of the river, they got things that continue, they dredge the river, so they want that river deep enough for ship traffic to be able to come in. If they just let the river be a river, we still have a delta down there in Venice down at where it meets the Gulf. But right now it’s just managed for marine navigation. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so what happened in the 30s and 40s again, they discovered how much oil is under all these wetlands. So we got to go in and get that oil, right, that’s big money. The nation’s moving towards industrialized and people, everybody can afford automobiles now, so we got to go get that oil and that natural gas, well, how do we get it from the wetlands onto shore and into a refinery? We run a pipe, right? Well, how do you run a pipe through a marsh? Well, you got to dig out a trench and lay the pipe down in that trench and would eventually becomes a canal. So they just go and cut a straight shot from wherever that well is to wherever it needed to go and they made all these new canals across the state of Louisiana’s coast. Well, it wasn’t meant for that, it wasn’t able to sustain that. So when they cut these new canals, all that salt water that normally sits out in the gulf and just sort of comes in with the tide into the marsh. Now, it has a straight shot to get into that marsh. Well, that marsh up until that point was brackish, it was intermediate and it was fresh, now it’s getting more salt water than it’s ever seen. So it starts either killing that or turning it into salt water wash. So you had a lot of change going on once we cut all of those oil canals through our marsh and we did that ourselves, we did it to ourselves. Then you had to start getting a series of storms, you get hurricane Betsy, Hurricane Camille, these big storms that come in and they wipe out a bunch of wetlands too. And then where I live, Katrina was the one that really took the most marshlands away from us.
Ramsey Russell: I talked about this before, I just read the book Vanishing Paradise and it predicted in that book, it was talking about a lot of these issues you were talking about and it predicted that the next category 5 was going to be catastrophic. And I put that book down and 2 or 3 weeks later here comes Katrina blowing into the Gulf and it was catastrophic. I mean, you’re born and raised in this part of the world and do you see it impacting some of that culture we’re talking about?
Jared Serigne: Yeah, because it’s all connected. Even the city, you can draw cultural connections from the city of New Orleans to the wetlands, right? Because in New Orleans sits right on the Mississippi River, where is the Mississippi River lead right into the wetlands. So all the crabs that you’re dining on when you dine in the French quarter, all that stuff, it still comes up out the wetlands, it’s all connected. So all the cultural things are still connected to the wetlands, the seafood, that stuff kind of dictates and dominates the way we cook, the things we use, the alluvial soils that we grow our tomatoes in, we have our own tomato called the Creole tomato and that tomato is a big part of our cooking. So it’s all connected to what goes on. What goes on outside the levees still holds everything to this region of place from a physical standpoint because it protects us from storms from a sustenance standpoint because it’s where we get our food and from a cultural standpoint because all those things that I just spoke on influence who we are.
Conserving a Vanishing Paradise
It’s just the changes I’ve seen in the past 20, 25 years, how is the terminus of the Mississippi Flyway affecting the entire flyway?
Ramsey Russell: Outside the levees to you as a brand, as a business, you’re making a living because you’re showing a bunch of great content, I hope everybody listening to go check it out because I sure enjoy it. But beyond the living, how is it steering your life? What did it mean to you personally? Beyond a way to make it a living.
Jared Serigne: It was the first time I really bet on myself. I built and I was a part of building things for other brands, the brands that I still love and stay in touch with. But at the end of the day, someone else owned that brand and all due respect to them, it was time to do something and see if I could have the same success in building something and build it for myself. So at the end of the day, outside the levees is me, that’s something I’ve built and if it crashes and burns and it becomes a bad decision that’s on me. But if it blows up and become one of the bigger YouTube channels, I get the reward from that. So that, to me, it was the first time I had the confidence to say, you know what I can be in front of the camera, I can be behind the camera, I can edit it and I can do it on a consistent basis enough to grow this thing and get it where it needs to be.
Ramsey Russell: Do you have a goal in mind a greater good in terms of impacting are influencing the conservation of this vanishing paradise down here because I know some of your films, not all of them, but some of your films speak to that topic.
Jared Serigne: Yeah. And it’s all happening, I guess it’s part of just – you could probably speak more on this, but it’s just a part of mature and like there used to be a time where if we had a hunt like we had today and we shot 7, I would be full of piss and vinegar mad about how I’m going to go back tomorrow and change it all. Dude, I had a fun, I had a wonderful day, I mean, 7 ducks that’s a lot to eat, you know what I mean? So, to me I’m changing as a sportsman, I’ve become that person that, we got to watch the ducks work today. So, there’s that side of it, so I think that’s just coming through in the work itself like I’m okay with talking about releasing fish in Louisiana, that’s a cardinal saying you don’t release fish, you don’t put them back, you put them in the ice chest and you eat them, but I don’t think that’s a sustainable way of being, especially since we’re already losing so much. So I think the conservation stuff is just coming from the changes I’m going through and the things I’m seeing and being okay with just keeping just enough of what I need.
Ramsey Russell: I worry about the future, I can’t help it. It’s just the changes I’ve seen in the past 20, 25 years, how is the terminus of the Mississippi Flyway affecting the entire flyway? How is losing a Delaware sized chunk of wintering habitat that all these birds are flying to, how is it affecting the entire flyway? You know what I’m saying? And I know there’s groups doing something about it but they ain’t doing enough, you know what I’m saying? We need more. I mean, boy, I tell you what, especially this administration that writes these big old checks for stuff, write a check for this, that’s my point is, it’s always on my mind, I just live 3 or 4 hours north of here and since Katrina, I feel like we pick up a lot more gadwalls and we’re starting to pick up fewer mallards in the Deep South. And it’s so interesting talking to the Duck Queen and talk about her dad and granddad shooting mallards down every day, there were trees, there were forests, there were sloughs.
Jared Serigne: Did she called it a French duck?
Ramsey Russell: She did. A French duck, a mallard, isn’t that crazy? And I’m going to change the subject just a little bit because you really went on something, when you left “The Industry” that you had gone to school and prepared yourself to pursue, you bet on yourself, how does it feel? How do you feel? Because a lot of people listening, a lot of people in social media, we were talking about some of these folks that a lot of people want to be in the industry, so to speak, the hunting industry. But my advice to them is find a niche and go and do it. Don’t try to bet the house and work for somebody, they’re selling their product, go sell your product, go and do it, I mean, you built it Jared, that’s what I’m saying.
Jared Serigne: Well, for me, I think the best outdoor videographers don’t need to be on the hunt to be a part of the hunt to feel like they have achieved something that part of it never sat right with me. I always wish that I had the gun in my hand when I was holding the camera. So I think that I just did not have that deep passion for being behind the camera, I had the deep passion for being on the hunt and being a part of the hunt and setting out the decoys and all the things that make me love hunting. YouTube is really about the only place you can get away with that, so that like you’re wearing a GoPro on your head while you shoot, well on TV, you kind of can’t get away with it, you got to have a separate cameraman who films the hunt. So YouTube gave me that outlet of now, I can not only do the filming which because I do, I enjoy the film, I enjoy to interview people and hold the camera, but I also like to shoot that damn gun and throw that fishing rod, you know what I mean? And this gives me the opportunity to do both and which I’m a decent outdoors man, I can usually catch or find something on any given day, but I’m an even better cook and that’s where it gave me the opportunity to show, if I had just stayed behind the camera the whole time people wouldn’t know what I can do in the kitchen.
Ramsey Russell: Is that a big part of who you are, is your cooking?
Jared Serigne: Yeah, it is. It’s not in every single video because there’s some logistics, sometimes it’s easier to just crank out a video and not cook because that’s an extra day of filming as well or an extra couple of hours of filming. But it’s a big part of the channel is food and cooking.
Ramsey Russell: The point I was kind of trouble of getting at with you saying you built it is you gambled on yourself and you built it.
Jared Serigne: 100% built it. Yeah, I told my wife when I started, I said give me 2 years because after two years, the way YouTube is like if you start a YouTube channel today, you may not get any money for the first year period and the money when you first start getting money, it ain’t money, you know what I mean? It’s maybe $200 a month or whatever like it’s not, so it didn’t look good man, I’ll be honest, it did not look too good for me to get it done in that 2 year standpoint, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to get it to where it’s making some money in 2 years.
Ramsey Russell: It took some family support, it took your wife getting behind you on this.
Jared Serigne: 100%, yeah. But I kept telling her like, babe, videography is growing at such a fast rate, the equipment’s getting so sophisticated, I don’t think I can keep up and I really didn’t love it. Like I said, I didn’t love just being the guy behind the camera, I want to be on the damn hunt too. So this was the only route, it’s like when your backs against the wall, you’re going to fight your way out of that some kind of way and that’s what this is giving me the opportunity to do.
Hunting Videos on YouTube
Well, at 7 o’clock on YouTube, they’ve got a choice of 500 hunting videos they can watch any given day.
Ramsey Russell: It’s crazy talking about a YouTube channel to a guy like me because as recently as 2 years ago, I consumed all my information on direct TV and 5 years before that, 10 years before that, it was a cable coming into the house and now we’re all streaming, I mean, really Direct TV has gone the way of the dinosaur, practically.
Jared Serigne: Well, I guess the good side of the outdoor channel and those outdoor networks is, they have already everything programmed for you. On YouTube I’m still waiting to be discovered, you get what I’m saying? Like I’m buried underneath the guys who started 5, 6, 7, 8 years ago, I’m kind of waiting to for YouTube to pick up my channel and turn it into an authority so that I’m getting recommended. When you’re on the outdoor channel, you buy your slot and you got your slot, people are going to watch it because that’s what’s on at 7 o’clock. Well, at 7 o’clock on YouTube, they’ve got a choice of 500 hunting videos they can watch any given day.
Ramsey Russell: I don’t think as many people are watching television as they did 10 years ago, 5 years ago, I don’t, most people I know are consuming their information on the internet and the internet via the television monitor, streaming. The number of people that are in and we’re not in your space, we put out a few duck videos, very few, one or two a year, Jake Latendresse and I do, but the number of people that find it while they’re surfing their television, that’s a new concept to a guy like me. And so it’s a brave new frontier to me, you’re forging a head into.
Jared Serigne: I’m a little late, I wish I started like 2015, 2016, but it is what it is, man. You can’t beat yourself up over that.
Ramsey Russell: So, you’re a family guy, I mean, we’re sitting here recording in your home, you’ve actually got young children, how important is it to you that they discover and realize the bounty of outside the levees earlier in life than I did?
Jared Serigne: My son Jack started with me when he was 3.5 years old, no joke, he started going on his 3 – and he went on deer hunts and how it is deer hunting, you got to sit there in quite. But he has the personality for that too. So I’m very fortunate and blessed that both of my children as of now are showing an interest in it, I believe my younger one will be more of like a go to the camp, hang out, go on a duck hunt, I don’t know that he’s going to quite enjoy sitting there being quiet on a deer hunt or enjoy it, all aspects of it. But my older son is a lot more like me focused on the hunt and completing the hunt and whatever task we need to do to make that hunt successful. So it is very important. In fact, the channel, I would love to leave the channel to my kids one day and maybe it’s not YouTube, maybe there’s a new platform at that point. But that brand I would love for one of my kids or both of them to have that one day as theirs.
Ramsey Russell: Do you ever wonder with some of the research you do, living down here, what you’ve experienced, the changes you’ve seen, some of the topics we talked about the deterioration, do you ever wonder what’s going to be left outside the levees for your children when they’re our age?
Jared Serigne: Yeah. I mean, you could easily go into a depression over it because there was a few years consecutively where we would get these high tide events. So high tide could happen if you get a strong south wind, 15, 20 mile a south wind for 2, 3 days. Some of our coastal towns will have flooding over the roads, that’s how little marsh is left out there to protect us from search and from rising waters, that’s how little bit of protection we have left. And I remember being very depressed when that was going on, but we do have the State of Louisiana has a coastal plan, so I think it started a few years ago at $50 billion let’s say right now, it’s at $80 billion, we know the projects we want to do to slow down some of that erosion, but really the main thing and I’ll get people who disagree with me here. But the main thing is finding places in areas where we can let that river be a river again because that’s Mother Nature’s way of doing it, that’s a way once you spend the money and do it or once it’s happening, it’s just going to keep on happening. So I have a lot of hope there that if that river is allowed to build some stuff, including the place you and I hunted today that I believe has been rejuvenated by some of that good nutrients that come down the river, there’s still some hope and there’s always going to be something, the duck hunting may be bad for a few years, may be bad for 20 years, but the crawfish might be great, see what I’m saying? Like that’s one thing I’ve seen in Louisiana’s wetlands is that like this thing may go down, but then this thing comes up. So I feel like my Children are going to find something that they can do, it might not be what I did, but they could find something. I mean, hell, they might fall in love with catfishing and we got enough catfish to feed the whole country down here.
Ramsey Russell: Jared, tell everybody about how they get in touch with you.
Jared Serigne: So go check me out on YouTube Outside the Levees. That’s the longer form content. We’ve got videos anywhere from 10 minutes long to 30 minutes long, so that’s a place to go see what I do if you’ve got a little time. If you’re a TikToker, which I know some of the hunting crowd has stayed away from TikTok, I am on TikTok, I find ways to make fun, cultural outdoorsy content and stay within TikTok’s guidelines on there. And then of course, I’m on Instagram where you and I talk, everything Outside the Levees. But if you’re going to go check me out, please go check out the YouTube channel that’s where my heart and soul goes to.
Ramsey Russell: And go check it out folks, I promise you, if you dial in to Outside the Levees on YouTube, you’re going to find a reason to come down to this part of the world and experience that he really covered a lot of the facets we talk about, very interesting, check it out. You all been listening to Jared Serigne Outside the Levees. Jared, thank you for a great morning, thank you for a great glimpse of this side of the river. And I’ve had a really great time and folks thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, time to load up the truck and head west. See you next time.