For the first time in years, Louisiana’s teal season opened on a Friday — and with one early cool front under our belts and the highest September aerial survey in the books since 2008 — expectations were high for a banner start.
Hunters who spoke with LouisianaSportsman.com said they saw lots of birds, but hunting results were mixed so far.
“There were a lot of birds until Sunday. There might have been a lot of birds then, too, but it was real foggy so we couldn’t see,” said Capt. Nick Poe with Big Lake Guide Service, who teal hunts on Sweet Lake. “Friday was a little slow, but Saturday was pretty good.
“I’m pretty sure Saturday morning was the most teal I’ve ever seen during teal season. But there’s a lot of water — they can go anywhere. They can sit in somebody’s pasture — there’s plenty of places for them to be.”
Over in Welsh, David Faul with Bin There Hunting said Friday’s opener was one of his best ever.
“We had 34 hunters and 204 teal in probably 10 minutes, and were pretty much back at the camp by 7 o’clock,” Faul said. “It was unbelievable.
“We saw them south of town about two weeks ago pretty heavy, lots of numbers. We weren’t seeing anything up here on the north side of the Interstate where my main hunting is until the beginning of last week. Then they kind of disappeared south of town and showed up here. I’ve never seen that many birds congregated in one place.”
But fog moved in on Saturday, Sunday and today, making the hunting tough. Faul said on Saturday, 32 hunters shot 51 birds; on Sunday, 21 hunters shot 62 birds and two clients got limits Monday morning.
Faul also said excess water from Hurricane Harvey in the western part of the state gives the birds plenty of options.
“There’s a lot of water everywhere,” he said. “There’s a lot of second crop (rice) flooded up. There’s not a lack of water for sure.
“I still hear they’re smacking them pretty good in Kansas and Oklahoma, so that’s telling me they’re not here in the numbers they should be just yet.”
Over in the extreme southeast part of the state in Buras, Capt. Cody Obiol with Reel Spot Charters said limits were had, but the action wasn’t exactly nonstop.
“Opening day there were a lot of birds. Saturday it got kind of slow, and Sunday it was just pretty dead,” Obiol said. “I heard some people killed limits, but it was slow, grinding limits — nothing fast and furious like you’d expect teal season to be on opening weekend.
“Sunday it was like they just left. You had to be in the exact spot they were flying to kill them. They weren’t real plentiful. People got limits, but it was lunch before anybody was finishing up.”
Brett Herring, head guide with ShellShocked Guide Service up on Catahoula Lake, said it's been tough so far in Central Louisiana teal-wise because of so much water on the landscape.
"We had a lot of rain before Harvey came through, and Catahoula had jumped up about 3 feet higher than what it normally is, and went almost back down but the ground was still saturated," Herring said. "Even though we didn't get but about 6 or 8 inches north of the lake from Harvey, Catahoula jumped 4 feet higher than what it normally is during teal season."
The water level is dropping steadily now on the lake, and he's hopeful it might get back to normal by this weekend — but he's worried about what kind of effect that excess water will have on the teals' appetite for the submerged aquatic vegetation there.
Herring said it's been like a chess match trying to figure out what the birds will do next.
"Those teal are changing their patterns, their flight paths, where they're at and where they're feeding," he said. "We're seeing a few more birds now .... It's just trying to find out where they want to be tomorrow. It's just very challenging right now with the fluctuating water conditons on Catahoula."
But he's still optimistic about the season as a whole with 11 days of hunting to go.
"I did a little Internet scouting, and they're still shooting them in Missouri, Indiana and Ohio, so as long as there are still birds north of us, we're alright," he said. "You just never know with teal. They are super unpredictable."
Capt. Anthony Kyzar, with Cajun Fishing and Hunting Charters out of Houma, said teal action has been pretty consistent on a section of private marsh near Cocodrie he's been hunting since Friday.
"The first two days it was all limits, and the last couple of days we've been shooting 10 to 12 a blind. It's been steady action, especially for the weather we've got," Kyzar said. "Look at the weather — Lord, it's so hot."
Kyzar said the habitat in the marsh he's hunting is perfect.
"We got them in there like crazy right now. The grass is thicker than we've seen it in a few years," he said. "It's setting up to be a fantastic big duck season if we don't get a storm."