Solid reports from hunters across the coast; WMA action somewhat slow
Joey Leonard isn’t a prophet, but he knew for a fact Saturday’s duck-season opener was going to be a good one for him and his buddies.
All the Pecan Island hunter had to do was open his eyes and look heavenward while spending six rain-soaked hours brushing blinds and prepping boats on Friday.
“The front definitely brought in some birds,” he said. “We saw birds all day long, especially high, incoming, migratory-flight birds.”
Leonard wasn’t disappointed when the shooting ended Saturday. He and two buddies had downed 14 gadwall, two mottled ducks, a teal and a ringneck.
“We saw a handful of mallards, and a few small flocks of teal, but not near the teal we normally see,” the Walker hunter said. “The majority of birds we saw were gadwall.”
Farther to the east, Slidell resident Nicholas Randazzo had a similarly successful experience, even though his expectations weren’t nearly as high as Leonard’s.
“We saw very few birds Friday when scouting, but were very pleasantly surprised with the results of the morning,” he said.
Randazzo hunted Delta National Wildlife Refuge in lower Plaquemines Parish with buddies Brad Currera, Wesley Curry and Shane Muller.
It took the hunters only 30 minutes to shoot a four-man limit of teal, even though the front actually hampered them just a bit.
“We had to wait until 6:30 to leave the camp, considering there were 25- to 30-mph winds,” Randazzo said.
The hunters saw plenty flights of pintail up in the stratosphere, but had opportunities only for the teal, Randazzo said.
Way out west, near Grand Bayou in Cameron Parish, Stephen Babcock and his buddies also had good success, thanks to the weather change. While brushing blinds in the marsh and getting everything prepped for the season, he said the place looked like a duck-free zone, but he was delighted to see birds everywhere Saturday morning.
“I definitely think the front pushed some new birds into our marsh,” he said.
The hunters spotted green-winged teal, gadwall, pintails, scaup, mallards and buffleheads. Their bag included teal, grey ducks and scaup.
“At the end of the hunt, we saw three whooping cranes which is always a cool sight,” Babcock said.
That high level of success didn’t translate to hunters as a whole on Pass a Loutre, Pointe-aux-Chenes, Salvador and Atchafalaya Delta wildlife management areas. The 675 hunters surveyed by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries personnel shot an average of only 1.8 ducks each.
The hottest of the four WMAs was Pass a Loutre, where hunters had an average of 4.1 ducks in their bags.
At the other end of the spectrum was Salvador WMA, where each hunter had only 0.6 ducks.
The first split of the duck season in Louisiana’s Coastal Zone runs through Dec. 2.
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