Latest front expected to bolster number of opening-weekend ducks

Drought, lack of submerged aquatic remain concern in some areas as waterfowl migration is in full swing.

Darren Digby

November 07, 2012 at 12:33 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

New ducks arriving in Louisiana with the latest cold front had hunters like LouisianaSportsman.com user huntindog and his son ready for the opening weekend of the regular duck season.
LouisianaSportsman.com user huntindog
New ducks arriving in Louisiana with the latest cold front had hunters like LouisianaSportsman.com user huntindog and his son ready for the opening weekend of the regular duck season.
Timely fronts should make for a decent opening weekend
As another well-timed cold front settles into the Bayou State, it hopefully brings with it a new wave of migrators riding the stout northerly winds. This should help reinforce the ducks having come through en masse following the strong front and full moon during the last weekend of October.

Though temperatures are forecast to warm up by this weekend’s opener, hunters across the state have been encouraged by what’s already arrived.

Greg Andrus of Catahoula Lake Duck Guide Service (318-623-2158) is pleased with what he’s seen on Catahoula Lake so far.
“We’re seeing a lot of mallards and pintail, also green-winged and blue-winged teal. It’s a lot of ducks right now,” Andrus reported.

The guide also noted that a few canvasbacks, his bread and butter duck, are starting to show up in addition to already good numbers of ringnecks.

“Last year the ringnecks really didn’t show up here, so we’re glad to be seeing them so far this year,” Andrus said.

He cites millet growing on the lake’s edges as prime food sources for arriving birds, especially as water levels rise flooding new areas.

Hunter Shaffett with Whispering Oaks hunting lodge (225-301-7335) reported good numbers of teal and shovelers in the fields with gadwall and woodducks populating the local flooded timber.

“The acorn crop was strong this year; the birds in the timber are hitting them pretty hard,” Shaffett said.

Though only a few groups of snows have been seen in the general area, Shaffett said the specks have shown up in good numbers so far despite the warm weather.

With drought still very much a factor in the region, the outfit’s pumps are working hard to bring water to impounded areas

“Though we’re only seeing a few mallards so far, the numbers of the other birds should make for a great start to the season. I’m excited for the opening weekend,” Shaffett said.

Erik Rue of Calcasieu Charter Service (337-598-4700) reported solid duck numbers near Sweet Lake and Hayes, although so far the specklebellies seem to be lagging in their arrival to the southwest corner of the state.

“We’re seeing a lot of pintail and some mallards, along with teal, pintail and shovelers,” Rue said. “We were seeing some specks a couple weeks ago but not as many lately.”

Like many, Rue hoped this latest front brings down a new push of birds, especially the specklebellies so many hunters love to chase.

“Overall we’re looking pretty good now that we’re getting our fields flooded, “ Rue said.

David Faul of Bin There Hunting near Welsh (337-438-4868) echoed Rue’s observations, pointing to some decent duck numbers in the area now that his fields are getting pumped.

“We’re seeing some good duck numbers, including more mallards than usual for this time of the season,” Faul reported.

Additionally, he was seeing a little bit of everything else like shovelers, pintail, and teal so common to the rice field habitats of our state. Both Rue and Faul reported very few, if any, snow or blue geese so far in the rice belt.

And despite summer rainfall, a dry October has again put flooded acreage at a premium throughout the region.

In the marshes of St. Bernard Parish, Mike Smith of Louisiana Marsh Guide Service (504-682-1966) and other area hunters have been seeing very good numbers of gadwall since the last big front around Oct. 27. Prior to that, Smith and others in the Hurricane Isaac-stricken marshes of Southeast Louisiana weren’t seeing much to brag about.

Following the front, reports of new arrivals were flying around as the birds literally showed up overnight to the area. Youth hunts this past weekend yielded plenty of gadwall, teal, shovelers and wigeon on young hunters’ straps, so things look promising for hunters in the Hopedale, Delacroix and Reggio to kick it off this weekend.

According to Capt. Brent Roy of Venice Charters Unlimited (225-268-8420), the story is much the same in the areas downriver, with birds finally arriving in decent numbers following the last front.

“There’s still not much feed down this way, so we’re hopeful the birds will still stick around for us,” Roy said.

LDWF reconnaissance reported some submerged aquatic vegetation re-growth in the area, so time will tell whether it will be enough to keep birds in the area through the season.

Louisiana Sportsman Field Reporter Chris Holmes posted photos from the Bayou Sauvage NWR showing ducks by the droves enjoying the healthy submerged aquatic vegetarion on the refuge.

Although much of the region’s duck groceries were severely damaged by Isaac’s wrath, some areas have recovered and the birds will certainly key in on these limited areas this season.

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