The Wild South

A Duck Camp Bloody Mary

Sim Whatley, the founder of Duck Camp, shares a post-hunt Louisiana duck club tradition

It’s been a roundabout journey for Sim Whatley, founder of the outdoor apparel brand Duck Camp. Born in Baton Rouge, he started going to duck camp when he was four or five years old, with his grandfather, Ray Whatley, who was the youngest member ever appointed to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. The family camp in Little Pecan was centered on an old quarters barge converted to a floating camp. His earliest memories were of guides dipping ducks into paraffin wax to clean them. After graduating from LSU, Whatley spent ten years in Dubai shepherding a start-up tech company. “Not much hunting there,” he says. So when he returned to Louisiana in 2013, it didn’t take him long to find a duck club to join.

“When I got back, I realized how much I missed the whole idea of a hunting camp,” he says. And it wasn’t just what happened during a three-hour hunt. “The feeling of turning off the paved road onto a gravel road—I remembered that from childhood. You could feel the excitement about the journey to the destination. That’s what we’re trying to capture at Duck Camp. Everything that goes on before and everything that happens afterward, from the cleaning of the birds to celebrating the hunt.”

Which is where this take on the Bloody Mary is rooted. Once back in Louisiana, Whatley joined the Lacassane Club, near Lake Arthur, where he shared common ground with the chef Patrick Martinez. Martinez studied at Chef John Folse Culinary Institute in Thibodaux, Louisiana, trained in France, and was sous chef at two New Orleans mainstays, Herbsaint and Luke. But like Whatley, he missed his hunting time, and a stint manning the stoves at a top-shelf hunting camp was a balm from his frantic pace. “We had some very good years at Lacassane,” Whatley says. “It wouldn’t be uncommon to be back at the camp at 9 a.m. with a limit of specks. And nothing went better with a celebratory brunch than a Bloody Mary with all the fixins.”

Then, and now. Tires crunching gravel still send a shiver down Whatley’s spine. And he still likes to celebrate a pile of feathers with this Cajun-style Bloody.

Follow T. Edward Nickens on Instagram @enickens


  • Duck Camp Bloody Mary (Yield: 1 Drink)

    • 1 slice of lime

    • 1 slice of lemon

    • ½ tsp. garlic powder

    • ½ tsp. onion powder

    • ½ tsp. Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning

    • 2 tsp. Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce

    • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

    • 1 tbsp. pickle juice

    • 2 shots vodka

    • Zing Zang Bloody Mary mix

  • For the glass and garnish

    • ⅓ cup sugar

    • ⅓ cup Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning

    • Pickled okra

    • Pickled green beans

    • Pickled olives

    • 1 slice crispy bacon

  • Pickled Vegetables for Garnish

    • 1 tbsp. pickling salt

    • 1 cup vinegar

    • 1 cup water

    • 2 tsp. red pepper chili flakes

    • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper

    • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

    • 2 sprigs fresh dill

    • 3 cloves garlic

    • 1 tsp. dried herbs to taste

    • 1 lb. mixed fresh okra, green beans, olives


  1. For the drink: On a small plate mix together the sugar and ⅓ cup creole seasoning. Wipe the rim of the glass with lemon, then flip the glass over and coat the rim with creole seasoning and sugar mix.

  2. Fill glass with ice then add all drink ingredients. Stir well or mix with a cocktail mixer. Add the remaining garnishes.

  3. For the pickled vegetables: In a small saucepan, combine the salt, vinegar, and water. Bring to a boil and mix until salt is completely dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients except vegetables to the saucepan and shut off heat. In a bowl add the vegetables and the brine mixture and mix well. Place bowl in refrigerator and allow mixture to completely cool. Vegetable mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks or canned for a longer shelf life.