Picture:   Keith Longlois holds up a very nice strap of ducks from the weekend.

 

For the Record

Capt. Chuck Uzzle

 

A steady stream of boats, hunters, and dogs crowded the local launches Saturday

morning as the Louisiana duck season officially opened. Adams bayou, the Vinton

Drain ditch, Cow Bayou, and Highway 82 towards Holly Beach looked like a parade

route as local hunters descended on the marshes in anticipation of legal

shooting light and the first flight of ducks. As expected it was a very hit and

miss proposition to say the least. The current state of the marsh is very

different than in normal years due to the increased levels of freshwater that

was courtesy of Hurricane Harvey and Toledo Bend overflow. Wet conditions have kept

freshwater dependent vegetation growing wild and that has definitely altered the

plans of many hunters. Ponds and flats that have historically been magnets for

ducks have seen very few birds come into the area and stay as the ultra abundant food

sources have ducks spread out all over creation.

Now if you are fortunate enough to have available food sources like some local

hunters then it’s just a matter of time before you have birds. The reports from

the Louisiana opener proved that theory out in a big way. Hunters that were much

deeper in the marsh and affected less by the saltwater and freshwater ratios had great numbers of

birds and outstanding hunts. The hunters closer to the rivers and bayous

struggled somewhat but did manage to take a few birds. Teal and Gadwall made up

the majority of the ducks taken for most hunters while a few were fortunate

enough to take pintail, widgeon, and even a few mallards. The big surge of

hunting pressure certainly changed the way the birds worked but look for that to

settle down as the season continues and the number of hunters gets back to a

normal level.

Perhaps the hunters most affected by the opening day pressure were the goose

hunters who set up on fields with good populations of speckle bellied geese.

Almost every hunter I spoke with who was chasing geese said the birds were

really spooky and hard to decoy. Most of the hunters who shot any numbers of

birds keyed in on small groups of birds rather than big bunches in order to get

them into shooting range. Look for these birds to also calm down as the hunting

pressure evens out. The amount of geese coming into the area on a daily basis

certainly gives local hunters something to look forward to. In the weeks ahead a

few things are going to become more important as the weather and conditions get

progressively colder and more difficult.

For now the long range forecast looks very good for local waterfowl hunters as

cooler temps may be on the horizon and that’s always a welcome change.

The strong north winds associated with each front will move a few birds out of the areas but look for

those numbers to build back up soon. New birds just now entering our area

plus those returning once the big north winds die down and slowly swing south

and east will bolster the population. Water levels in the tidal marshes will be a concern for a few days as

the tides are extremely low right now courtesy of the north winds associated

with this each passing front. Many areas that are prime habitat become expansive mud

flats at this time of the year and are only accessible with a surface drive

motor or long tail. When the water levels return the ducks won’t be far behind.

If the first few days are any indication of how the season is going to turn out

then it may be time to stock up on shells because this has all the potential to

be one to remember.