‘It gave me hope’: Houma man’s award-winning duck decoys helped him through cancer treatment

HOUMA, La. -- "Sometimes I call myself the wood butcher," chuckles Ricky Buras.

In Houma, we visited Buras at his home that was filled with duck decoy decor.

He began referencing different wooden ducks that were carved to near perfection around us.

"It was 1974, I think it was. My grandfather used to make em' and I seen a piece of wood down there and I said I'm going make me a decoy. I went down there and got it and that was it. Non-stop since then," says Buras.

Buras has been competing in duck decoy carving competitions for years and has won countless prizes.

"I've won around 70 something best of shows and first, second, and third best of shows," he says.

"You could have the prettiest bird in the world, and you put it in that water, and if he don't flip over like he's suppose to, it's gone," says Buras referencing how precise you must make a duck for it to float correctly.

Just six months ago, Buras defeated colon cancer.

It was an illness that he says gave him an even bigger drive to carve decoys.

"Chemo made me so miserable, and I couldn't eat. I just went out there and got me a piece of wood and drew me out a pattern and cut it all up and get my mind off of it. I finished the duck, so that gave me hope. As long as you got hope, you can conquer something, and you can keep on going," says Buras.

Buras decided to label every duck he made during his battle with cancer and hoped that it would remind those who saw them to continue to fight.

"Don't give up, don't give up. God will help you. If he takes you, you'll be in a better place anyways," says Buras.