Woody and Chip Crews went from a longtime private waterfowl lease in Terrebonne Parish to the extreme opposite — public hunting in Plaquemines Parish. The father-son team offers their views on why anyone would want to hunt on Delta National Wildlife Refuge.
• The delta produces a mixed bag — a wide variety of birds.
• Geese are a common bonus on duck hunts.
• The area offers excellent fishing for bass, catfish, redfish and speckled trout after the hunt.
• Since the central flyway funnels directly to the mouth of the Mississippi River, ducks can become “super thick.”
• It offers an excellent chance to kill a canvasback, a bucket list bird for many hunters.
• It’s free — no lease.
• The remoteness of the area offers hunters a feeling of isolation, being at the end of the world, beyond civilization.
• It’s dangerous. Six hundred-foot long ships run the river.
• It’s a 15-mile run from the nearest marina.
• There can be a lot of competition from other hunters. Some are discourteous and set up on earlier-arriving hunters.
• The area has large tidal fluctuations. Decoys can go from free-floating to tilting on their keels in less than an hour. Not only may hunters lose their hunt, they might be stuck there until the tide comes back up.
• Ducks are difficult to work. They don’t circle multiple times. They simply take a peek on their first pass. This is hunting with decoys, but it isn’t decoy hunting.
• Because conditions change so rapidly on the delta, hunters need to be flexible enough to change their style of hunting on a daily basis.
• There are almost no mallards on the refuge.
• Hunters need to relearn to navigate the river every year due to sand bars building, moving and changing. A GPS route built one year may not be able to be run the next year.
The refuge rules
Like any other national wildlife refuge, Delta has its own set of rules in addition to state and federal hunting regulations. Hunters should pay attention to them, as refuge personal will be quick to issue citations for infractions. Some of the ones of special interest to waterfowl hunters are:
• No entry on the refuge before 4:00 a.m.
• Only temporary blinds are allowed. All blinds and decoys must be removed by 1:00 p.m.
• Guns must be unloaded by 12:00 p.m. (noon).
• No airboats, mud boats or boats with air-cooled engines are not allowed.
• Waterfowl hunting is only allowed on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
• Hunters must be in possession of a signed permit. The regulations booklet, which may be downloaded from the Delta National Wildlife Refuge website, shall serve as the permit after it is signed.
Other regulations may be found on the refuge website.