The waterfowl world lost a selfless, passionate leader revered for bringing people and ideas together to enrich the lives of ducks and duck hunters in Louisiana and throughout North America.
Brandon Broussard of Abbeville, Louisiana, who served as chairman of both Delta Waterfowl’s Vermilion Chapter and the Louisiana State Committee, died on June 11. He was 47.
If an issue had anything to do with waterfowl or waterfowl hunting in Louisiana, Broussard was involved and usually leading the charge, said Bryan Leach, director of events for Delta Waterfowl.
“He owned a lawncare service and cut grass for a living, but all Brandon cared about was waterfowl, Louisiana, his family, and University of Louisiana-Lafayette baseball—with his family at the top of the list, but ducks right under that,” Leach said.
Broussard led the Vermilion Chapter since 2006. During his tenure as chairman, Vermilion reached exceptional fundraising success and consistently placed as a top chapter in The Duck Hunters Organization. Vermilion topped $1 million in total net fundraising in 2020, becoming Delta’s fourth chapter to eclipse the milestone. What makes the feat even more impressive is that Abbeville is a city of just 11,000 people.
Leach attributes much of the chapter’s success to Broussard.
“He understood the importance of duck production on the prairies and how the breeding grounds work,” Leach said. “He was also super passionate about ducks in Louisiana. He always wanted to raise the most money to support Delta, but also wanted to help Louisiana and the refuges there. He was such a huge asset locally. Volunteers just grew around him and wanted to be involved. People gravitated toward his leadership.”
For his dedication and service, Broussard was chosen as Delta’s 2022-2023 U.S. Volunteer of the Year, an annual award recognizing the best of Delta’s more than 5,000 dedicated chapter volunteers. Broussard was selected for the top honor in May, before anyone knew the extent of his medical issues. He had also been a regional nominee for VOY in 2012, and international finalist in 2017.
As the Louisiana State Committee chairman, Broussard pushed to improve waterfowl habitat and access for hunters. Louisiana chapters and the state committee created an impoundment area to increase hunter opportunity at the John Franks Wildlife Management Area, repaired a boat ramp and parking area at Dewey Mills WMA, and funded mottled duck nesting structures at Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA.
In addition to successful local projects, Broussard amplified waterfowl issues by working with elected officials and Louisiana wildlife commissioners. Since 2020, he’d been spearheading an effort to revitalize the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area, a 71,905-acre state property that has been neglected and battered by hurricanes. In concert with Delta’s policy team, Broussard convinced Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards to include $38 million in funding in the state’s budget to repair and maintain levees, pumps, and infrastructure at White Lake.
Unfortunately, the funding did not make it into the final budget, so Broussard’s goal of “fixing White Lake” has not yet been achieved.
Still, Delta recognized Broussard’s exemplary effort for conservation with the 2023 Waterfowling Legacy Award. Delta’s Cyrus Baird and Leach presented the award to Broussard’s wife, Emily, and daughter, Anna, during Champions of Delta Luncheon on July 29 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Leach, who became close friends with Broussard during more than a decade as Delta’s regional director for Louisiana, presented an emotional tribute that started out as eight pages of notes.
“I just wanted everybody to know how much he had done,” Leach said. “A lot of people in Vermilion Parish just thought he rode around on a lawnmower. His life was about waterfowl and waterfowl hunting. Mowing grass paid the bills, but his life was Delta. When he would get excited about an initiative, you’d talk to him several times a day. He wanted to be the ultimate conservationist.”
Leach described Broussard as an “old soul” who wanted to make certain the traditions of duck hunting will always remain strong in Louisiana.
“I don’t know that we’ll ever fill his shoes,” Leach said. “Anything I ever needed for Delta, he always wanted to help. He was 100% all-in.”
A true Louisiana Cajun, Broussard loved to cook for people, which fit perfectly during conservation gatherings and hunts.
“I thought I knew how to cook a gumbo until I met him,” Leach said.
As much as Broussard loved to hunt ducks, white-fronted geese held a special spot in his waterfowl-hunting heart.
“He was really fun to hunt with,” Leach said. “He was a super specklebelly caller. He could just talk the talk and get specklebellies to do some crazy things. He loved ducks, but when you really saw him get excited, we were hunting specklebellies. That was his bread and butter.”
As a tribute to Broussard and his incredible impact for ducks and duck hunters, Leach and several Louisiana committee members have vowed to see White Lake return to its former status as premier waterfowl habitat and a prime area to hunt.
“He was so adamant about fixing White Lake,” Leach said. “We’ve now made it a life goal to do it for Brandon.” — Paul Wait