Capt. Chuck Uzzle

For the Record

 

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 Hiway 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 in the past years. 

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. 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 have provided 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.