Water fowl hunters looking for excuses
Every great political candidate surrounds themselves with an army of supporters who at a moments notice can turn the worst information into something positive; these people are called spin masters. Any harsh judgment or critical comments about their candidate are quickly turned around and made into some sort of glowing endorsement, it seems that duck and goose hunters may have been taking lessons from these spin masters. Every year the duck population surveys are published and as soon as they are made public the hunters start the positive vibes flowing. It doesn’t seem to matter that numbers are down from the average or that limits may get cut again, the true hard core water fowl guys can turn it all into a bed of roses.
“This year will be different,” “The breeding surveys are always wrong,” “the almanac says this will be a cold winter so we are really going to get the ducks” and so on it goes, until you actually start believing the stories. Sure, you can get on a duck lease just about anywhere these days when five years ago, it was almost impossible, big deal. Yes, the classifieds are full of hunting gear, duck boats, and assorted tools of the trade; that doesn’t mean a thing. If this sounds like something you may have said in the past; welcome to the club, the fraternal order of the quack heads. You see, anybody who truly lives to hunt ducks and geese can never be swayed by some measly information from the parks and wild life. They always paint the gloomiest picture possible- don’t they? Right about now most sane people would call this stage of your life the “denial” stage; and they are probably right. Who else but a died in the wool water fowl hunter would get up well before the crack of dawn, battle inclement weather constantly, load up a boat load of expensive gear and a dog, only to go out and stare at an empty sky on a regular basis in hopes that today will be the day. Only duck and goose hunters would.
Duck and goose hunters certainly got an opportunity to use each and every one of those famous phrases or excuses this past weekend, as many local hunters took to the Louisiana marshes for opening weekend. A much anticipated opener fizzled, as the ducks were scarce to say the least. The normally fast and furious shooting that is associated with opening morning was sporadic for the majority of hunters. Gadwall and teal made up the majority of the birds taken; along with a handful of widgeon. Most hunters attribute the slow start to the well above normal water levels that everyone has been dealing with. The high water spreads out the birds and makes normally shallow ponds where birds traditionally feed too deep. The cold front that just pushed through our area should help immensely as the north wind helped dump excess water from the marshes. Look for much better results in the coming weeks.
I have had few reports, other than from Louisiana, where hunters are taking any numbers of geese. Speckled bellied geese are thick near cut rice fields and are offering those willing to set up spreads, some good hunts. Snow geese have yet to build into real huntable numbers for the most part. The majority of snow geese that have been taken were shot by duck hunters lucky enough to get a passing shot. Farther down the coast the numbers of snow geese are better but, the hunting is still much slower than expected. Historically, the week of Thanksgiving is when everything breaks loose and the goose hunters really get with the program. If you enjoy chasing geese all you can do is hope it gets better because right now it’s mighty slow.