At Barred Up Outfitters Lodge, Customers Escape From The Stresses Of Life (And Also Do A Little Hunting)
By Brad Goins
If you’ve heard that some of the hunting camps in SWLA are largely gathering places for well-heeled corporate higher-ups, you’ve heard right. Ben Page, co-owner of Barred Up Outfitters Lodge near Lake Arthur, comes right to the point about it.
The highest hunting package price I see on Barred Up’s web site — $5,000 — is a lot less than the highest price I’ve ever seen anywhere. On the other hand, you can be sure no group of short-order fry cooks is going to be picking up the tab for that package.
The $5,000 price tag goes with the “33 Guns” deal, which is listed under the heading “Corporate Packages.”
“33 Guns” means that the fee covers 11 different hunts for three different hunters. For all practical purposes, “gun” translates into “hunter” in all these packages. “1 gun” is one hunter.
It’s not just the prices that indicate that Barred Up is serious about corporate clients; it’s also the perks, one of which is airport pick-up — quite a benefit for a place located south of Welsh near Lake Arthur.
At the low end of the price scale is the fee for the “drive-up hunt.” This involves the hunters driving in on the morning they want to make the hunt. They get to eat after the hunt, but there’s no overnight stay. These basic hunting packages go for $250 (and include the services of a guide, of course).
Bump the fee up to $350, and hunters get a day’s worth of meals and a night’s lodging.
At Page’s request, I’ve reproduced Barred Up Outfitters’ price schedule as it appears on their website:
Each package includes lodging, Cajun dinner and breakfast after the hunt. Upon availability.
15 Guns: $3,000
24 Guns: $4,200
33 Guns: $5,000
Day Duck & Goose Combo
All hunts are a 2-gun minimum. Lodging available for $100 a gun; Cajun dinner and breakfast after hunt.
$250 per gun.
Day Teal Hunt
All hunts are a 2-gun minimum. Lodging available for $100 per gun; Cajun dinner and breakfast after hunt.
$150 per gun.
Teal Hunting Packages
Minimum 3 guns booking 3+ hunts. Lodging available for $50 per gun; Cajun dinner and breakfast after hunt.
$100 per gun.
The lodge offers other packages not listed here. Staff will also work to accommodate hunts of unusual size or stays. You can probably get the exact sort of package you’re looking for.
Although any number of hunters can come to Barred Up, groups of three are most common. Page says the lodge’s many blinds hold three to six hunters each.
The View Inside
The bar, like the dining table, is made entirely of wood, and resembles butcher block islands in its construction. A roll of paper towels sits in the midst of the dining table. One shot shows children seated with adults at the dining table. It looks as if guests spend a lot of time congregated around this table.
There are several large, flat-screen televisions and at least two fireplaces.
Decoration is hunting-oriented. Stuffed animals appear here and there, but don’t take up every spare inch of wall space. Hunting rifles and various other paraphernalia and artifacts are sparingly placed here and there.
There’s an easy-going, comfortable look to the lodge. It’s clearly designed for the relaxation and entertainment of groups.
A Unique Slant On Cajun Cooking
Barred Up’s chef Terrell Thibodaux is well known for offering his own variations on Cajun cooking — variations that are considered especially flavorful and stay close to tradition, while at the same time introducing diners to appetizing new flavors.
“We focus on down-home cooking, and I put my heart and soul into it; when I’m in my kitchen, I’m in my zone,” Thibodaux says. “When our guests go to bed at night, they’ve got full bellies,” not to mention a better knowledge of Cajun culture.
Thibodaux says his go-to dishes include traditional Cajun fare such as gumbo, etouffee and jambalaya. His most requested dish? “Cracklins,” he says without hesitation. “Our clients are looking for the whole Cajun Experience.”
In spite of Thibodaux’s strong rep as a chef, Page says that few come to Barred Up just for the food. In fact, Page says, “the cooking is lagniappe.”
Still, there’s no doubt that Barred Up is promoting Thibodaux’s cuisine. On its website, Barred Up boldly states, “we promise the best Cajun cooking you will find anywhere.” It’s cooking the proprietors call “five star dining.”
Why call so much attention to the cuisine if it’s not central to the Barred Up experience? To find the answer, it helps to delve into Page’s explanation of just what it is that brings hunters to Barred Up.
For the most part, hunters come to escape. “They relax,” says Page. “Get away from the wife and kids.” They can shed the shackles of high-pressure workplace stress.
An essential part of this escape experience is casual conversation among the hunters. And that’s where the cuisine comes in.
“They hang out, eat and drink,” says Page. If hunters are seeking an experience in which they eat while they commune with each other, it’s an added benefit if the food is unusually good.
Ultimately, some hunters may feel that the cuisine trumps the experience of hunting itself. According to Page’s theory, hunters come to Barred Up primarily for the camaraderie, relaxation and escape; secondarily for the hunting. The cuisine is part and parcel of the camaraderie.
This is Barred Up’s first year as a completely refurbished lodge. The long renovation project started in March and ended recently.
In the year to come, the new owners plan to add new improvements. These will include an expansive outdoor kitchen. A 12 foot by 40 foot concrete patio will be covered by an awning of the same size.
Barred Up Lodge is located at 6095 Highway 382 in Lake Arthur. If you’d like more information, call 337-802-2149. If you don’t want to use a GPS when you travel to Barred Up, you can get specific directions at barredup.net. The site also provides many good photos of the interior of the lodge.