Larry Reynolds, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife waterfowl study leader, was hesitant to make a prediction about what hunters can expect on opening day and for the remainder of the season. 

“After last year, I honestly don’t know what hunters can realistically expect over the course of the season,” Reynolds said. “But even in tough years, the openers are usually very good.”

He said habitat conditions shouldn’t be a real problem for most hunters.

 “With the exception of Catahoula Lake, where habitat quality is reduced from last year due to wetter conditions caused by a variety of issues, we have very good habitat conditions across Louisiana —especially in the coastal zone,” Reynolds said. “The waterfowl breeding population is at all-time high levels, and pond numbers (in the breeding grounds) are up, creating conditions that typically lead to good reproduction.

“So waterfowl hunters in Louisiana have every reason to be optimistic. Given solid winter weather, there is the potential for us to have a very good season.”

But cold weather doesn’t always guarantee frenetic hunts.

“… (T)hat was the case last year, as well,” Reynolds said. “We saw cold temperatures and freezing conditions north of us in the flyway in November and December —but it wasn’t until January that our surveys showed even average numbers of ducks, and hunting reports were below average.

“So I’m reticent to be overly optimistic at this point. But we have reason to be hopeful.”