Mother Nature came through in the clutch for Louisiana hunters on the opening day of teal season, delivering a perfectly-timed cool front that guides say pushed more birds into the state just in time for Saturday morning.
“It was looking pretty scarce until Thursday evening and Friday morning. Friday we got in a bunch of new birds in the CENLA area, and Saturday morning we shot limits of birds in every group,” said Brett Herring, with ShellShocked Guide Service, who had successful hunts with customers on Catahoula Lake. “The rains Thursday night and Friday morning put enough water out there to be able to safely get around and not have to worry about any of the Gator-Tails getting hung up.”
But Sunday was a different story entirely — a sentiment shared by several hunters across the state. Birds that were plentiful on opening day weren’t necessarily there on the second day of the season.
“We were really hopeful for Sunday morning, and it was pretty slim,” Herring said. “That cold front pushed those birds out of the area. We had one group limit out and they shot exceptionally well.
“The birds were just not there. They left Saturday night when that cold front pushed through. It was a night and day difference between Saturday morning and Sunday morning.”
In the Caernarvon area, Sportsman TV producer Jared Serigné was surprised Saturday morning with lots of birds and three limits of teal.
“We went into it with low expectations, based on our own scouting and reports from that area. Also, the last two years it seems like a late migration has become more the norm,” Serigné said. “But it was a pleasant surprise. We really weren’t expecting much.
“Little by little things picked up fast. We heard a lot of shooting around us similar to the opening day of big duck season. We had three ducks down in the first 10 or 15 minutes of the hunt. Our goal was to only shoot three because that’s all we shot the last two opening days.”
Serigné said they hunted in about 3 inches of water, which was down from earlier in the week.
“My theory is that the ducks were coming in that morning. The cold part of the front came through Saturday night, but the low pressure part of it came in Saturday morning,” he said. “So they were coming in ahead of it and came in Friday night or that morning.
“The water dropped out from the beginning part of the week That might have spread them out. If they were in other areas where the water was a little higher, they had to spread out a little to find water. But I still think they were fresh ducks.”
But after seeing between 500 and 1,000 birds on opening day, Serigné estimates his group saw maybe 100 birds on Sunday.
“Sunday was kind of what I expected on Saturday,” he said. “But with the pressure from the hunting, plus the mud boats and then the cool front Saturday night, it signaled to them it was time to move further south.”
But several hunters across the state indicated action was solid all weekend long. David Faul, with Bin There Hunting, said teal were plentiful in the rice fields near Welsh.
“That front brought in some new birds, in my opinion,” Faul said. “We didn’t limit out across the board, but we were right at it. If they didn’t limit out, it’s because they ran out of shells.
“They definitely had opportunities — it wasn’t because of a lack of birds.”
On Saturday, Faul said 55 shooters shot 278 teal, while 31 hunters on Sunday downed 158 birds.
Monday morning, six hunters brought home 34 teal, he said.
“It was really good this morning. It’s still looking really good,” Faul said today. “I think the birds have scattered, but new birds came in with that front. But I’m still not holding birds like I had last week.
“We’re going out to ponds in the morning and there’s nothing there, but within five minutes of shooting time, they start coming in.”
Capt. Nick Poe, with Big Lake Guide Service, said action was solid on Saturday and Sunday in the marshes near Sweet Lake.
“It was good,” Poe said. “We saw lot of birds. And we had two good hunts — both blinds had great hunts on both days.
“We had to wait around on them for a little while, then they came out of the rice fields and it was on.”
Sixteen hunters downed 88 teal over the weekend, Poe said.
In Buras, Capt. Cody Obiol with Cajun Fishing Adventures said the action has been almost non-stop. According to Ray Stansberry, shooters at Cajun Fishing Adventures downed 159 teal over the weekend, for an average of just more than five birds per hunter.
“It’s been awesome,” Obiol said. “Everybody I’m talking to is pretty much killing limits. The feed down here is just unbelievable right now — grass and vegetation is everywhere.”
He suspects more birds pushed into the Buras area Saturday night.
“The birds we saw on Saturday were not the same birds we shot on Sunday,” he said. “You could tell the difference in the birds. You could see bigger flocks flying higher, and you could tell they were migrating down. Truthfully I don’t even think we’ve gotten the big push yet. I think there’s a lot more to come.”
Herring, with ShellShocked Guide Service in Pineville, said a friend who is a guide in northeast Arkansas reported new teal on Sunday, and he’s hopeful more flocks will keep pushing south into Louisiana as the season unfolds.
“Teal are very finicky. Temperature and storms move them around,” Herring said. “You may have them, and then a big thunderstorm comes through and the next day you don’t have them. They’re unpredictable.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll get the birds that Missouri and Arkansas got in on Sunday and go from there. One thing about it — you can’t kill them if you’re at the house.”