Hurricane effect means more ducks this season
Hunt where the ducks ARE, is our motto. A lightweight ‘rogue and a lightweight bench that fits inside allows us to go to them.
“Don’t come to me looking for an excuse to cancel your duck hunts,” said LDWF Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds. “We’ve still got a ton of ducks coming down this year. In most recent seasons, Louisiana hunters have bagged more ducks than hunters in the entire Central flyway.
"The rains from Isaac didn’t cause enough flooding in the Midwest to cause much short-stopping of ducks this year. They only impacted a few areas in northern Arkansas. Sure, the storm battered the Delta pretty badly, knocking down rosseaus and killing much submerged vegetation. But in the Mississippi Delta, we’ve still got weeks of growing season with a constant flush of freshwater until the big duck season.
"And some patches of vegetation actually survived the storm. As proof, the opening weekend of teal season Pass-a-Loutre WMA recorded the best bag checks of any WMA in Southeast Louisiana, averaging 3.2 ducks per hunter. I’m certainly optimistic."
And, oddly enough, the Fontova duck-hunting log (spanning 40 years by now) shows some of the best duck hunts on "off" years, when saltwater ravaged our southeastern coast: 1998 after Hurricane Georges, for instance. And in 2002 after Lili. Same for 2008 after Gustav.
Odder still, when the Bonnet Carre Spillway opened or the Caernarvon diversion was gushing river water for long periods, our log often shows some mediocre hunts, even on great weather days.
So what’s going on here?
Think about it. Some deer hunters detest high-mast years because it spreads the deer out. They have so much to eat in so many places that deer ignore food plots and corn — and become hard to pattern. This was a major complaint last season. But on low-mast years, the public-land hunter who, through diligent scouting, finds the few oaks putting out, usually scores. Same principle with ducks.
When the Bonnet Carre Spillway opened or Caernarvon gushed, milfoil grew everywhere in huge mats and often in the big, open bays. This made it tough to attract and ambush ducks in enclosed ponds with a few dekes. The big flocks of grays constantly descend in the open water, and there’s simply no way to compete with that crowd after a few hundred have bunched up.
During the saltier-water periods, more food-barren years, we simply — by scouting — located the few pockets of food, often ponds or coves with widgeon grass on the bottom, dwarf spikerush sprouting on the mud banks or even algae matting the banks and bottom.
Yes algae, that same stuff that cripples our spinnerbaits when casting for reds in skinny water ponds. Ducks — greys and greenwings, especially — seem to love it.
Hunting public land or otherwise having the luxury of avoiding a permanent blind and actually hunting ducks made for these successful hunts.
What follows from last year’s first split hunt will probably apply to this year’s first split: Simply leave early on a fishing/scouting junket to locate the duck concentrations. They probably won’t be randomly spread out this year.
And filling half a "box" with reds, specks, flounder and puppy drum during these "scouting" trips certainly adds to the experience!
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