Despite a mixed outlook going into the 2011 teal season, it appears that Tropical Storm Lee's 11th-hour visit was a temporary heart-stopper instead of a show-stopper. Reports were spotty early on and rice hunters started strong, but many marsh hunters were left scratching their heads.

Perennial teal hot spots like Delacroix, Hopedale, Caernarvon and elsewhere along the Mississippi River's east bank largely struggled due to the higher tides scattering the birds.

Nevertheless, aided by a couple of timely cool fronts, hunters soon found birds in the usual locations by the second weekend.

Last week's front came through just in time to deliver a fresh batch of birds, and it looks like most hunters closed out the season with a bang over the final weekend.

Hunter Shaffett of Whispering Oaks hunting lodge (225.301.7335) had a good time with the early blue-winged teal in the Vidalia area.

"We did well overall, taking over 300 teal," Shaffett said. "This past Friday and Saturday were really good, but it was a little slower on Sunday."

He also noted that a lack of water in the region continues to be a problem, with flooded fields being at a premium, much like last year.  Shaffett did mention that a few pintails were seen in the area last week to provide a hopeful precursor for what's to come in November.

David Faul of Bin There Hunting (337.438.4868) said his hunters harvested about 465 teal over the last couple of weeks in the rice fields near Welsh.

"It was a little slower than usual, but overall we did well with plenty of limits taken," Faul reported.

He indicated that, despite some moderate and slower flight days here and there, most of his hunters were able to put together nice straps of birds as long as they were able to connect on the little blue rockets.

Roland Cortez of Cajun Fishing and Hunting Charters (985.414.4997) in Terrebonne Parish was thrilled with the season overall.

"We had a great season in the Houma area," Cortez reported. "We killed birds pretty steady the whole season, especially once the water went down."

Cortez said he saw some decent success in the brackish marshes of Point Aux Chien WMA as well.

"Opening weekend was a little slow, but once we got another front through things really picked up," he said.

In the Reggio/Delacroix area, Mike Smith of Louisiana Marsh Guide Service (504.682.1966) quickly rebounded from a slow opening weekend, with his groups able to put limits of birds on the strap nearly every hunt through the closing weekend.

"Boy, did we end it with a bang," said of the final day of the season. "We started off slow on the opening weekend, but starting on Wednesday of the first week it picked up and we did very well all the way to the closing Sunday."

Other reports in the area largely mirrored Smith's observation that things were a bit off early but soon settled down as new birds showed up and water levels subsided.

Similar to Delacroix, other lower Mississippi River area marshes struggled early with scattered birds, but it was business as usual a few days into the 16-day season.  Reports from the Venice area indicated that it hardly missed a beat and produced plenty of teal limits for those trekking to the extreme southeast corner of our state.