Early reports from hunters across Louisiana indicate the slow opening weekend predicted for the start of teal season was pretty much right on target.
“It was terrible. Everybody I know struggled,” said Joe Guinta, with Delacroe Joes Lodge in Delacroix. “Some people did okay, and some people didn’t fire a shot.”
David Faul with Bin There Hunting said it was definitely not a normal opening weekend in the rice fields of Welsh.
“It wasn’t real good,” Faul said. “There were no birds and it was just a bunch of pass-shooting. Nothing really decoyed because the first time a bird came in the pond, the whole pond was shooting at it.”
Faul estimated 80 hunters took about 150 birds on Saturday, while 30 hunters took about 80 teal on Sunday. The hunting Monday morning was better, with eight hunters taking 42 birds.
“They’re just not down yet,” Faul said. “They’re showing a little cool front maybe coming through on Sunday night getting down to around 62 for the low. If that happens, that will bring ‘em in. It’ll be on then.”
Brett Herring with ShellShocked Guide Service on Catahoula Lake, said it was the first opening weekend he could remember when all of his clients didn’t limit out.
“It’s definitely been the roughest I’ve ever seen,” Herring said. “I’ve never seen this few birds. They’re not in the area. They’re just not down.”
And low water conditions on Catahoula Lake make it even more of a challenge, he said.
“What you’ve got right now is one very big mud flat,” Herring said. “We’re basically hunting in a half-inch of water.”
Larry Reynolds, waterfowl study leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said he and his son shot a total of 16 birds over opening weekend at their lease in Creole in Cameron Parish. Tellingly, fourteen of the 16 teal were males, he said.
“Early in the migration, it’s almost exclusively adult males. They’re the ones that migrate first,” Reynolds said. “If we killed primarily adult males, it means we’re still early in the migration and there’s still more birds to come.”
Reynolds remains encouraged by information from colleagues in places like Kentucky and Kansas, where large numbers of blue-winged teal are being reported. After enduring drought conditions for two consecutive Septembers, he said Kansas hunters recently recorded their best teal opening weekend ever.
In addition, he said the strong breeding population of 7.7 million teal surveyed late this spring, as well as good conditions on the breeding grounds in Canada and the Dakotas, should eventually provide south Louisiana hunters with better opportunities for birds.
“”A couple of days can make a big difference,” Reynolds said. “I’d be real surprised if the hunting isn’t substantially better next weekend than it was this weekend.”