Monday morning, while much of the population of north Louisiana was out making snowmen or just admiring 3-5 inches of rare, soft snow sticking on everything in sight, Cole Barthel was doing what he does every other day this time of year — duck hunting.
“We don’t get a chance to go duck hunt in the snow very often here in Louisiana, so it was something special,” said the 37-year-old Rayville resident. “The snow everywhere just made everything look so great and then the ducks we saw worked great. We got a limit of ducks, almost all mallards and pintails. And we were out of there by 8:30 a.m.
“It seems like when it’s snowy the ducks just want to find somewhere to land. We’ve seen that in other places. They see the open water, then see some more “ducks” and hear the call and here they come. It was one of the best mornings we’ve had. The water had a little slush in it, but it wasn’t frozen.”
Snow helped hunters
Barthel also helps produce the All Things Hunting TV show and works with Jeff Simmons on the daily Simmons’ Duck Report, which records the group’s duck experiences on a daily basis during the season.
“When we get crazy weather of any kind down here, it does one of two things,” Barthel said. “It either completely shocks the ducks and they shut it down or they just go dumb. We were lucky today that the snow just made them go dumb and they worked just right. One thing that had us worried is that this front blew in from the west. Normally when a front comes from the north, it’s moving ducks down from Illinois through Arkansas and to us. But that wasn’t the case with this one. I’m not sure if the weather pushed more ducks in the area or if it just got those that were here up and moving. But everybody we talked to that braved the snow this morning had good luck just like us.”
The final countdown
The duck season is entering it’s final 20 days in the East Zone and Barthel said it is looking like a good week with sunny skies and some wind if we can get it early.
“There aren’t tons of ducks, but there are enough to make for some good hunts,” he said. “We are two-thirds of the way through the season and so far it’s been a good one. Not one of the best, but certainly not one of the worst. Hopefully we’ll finish it out strong. Either way, today’s hunt made it a memorable season in that we got to do something we don’t normally get to.”
The snowstorm gave duck hunters a chance at a rare experience, but it did cause some problems in the northern end of the state. The white blanket of snow forced school and government office closures across the area. An estimated 100,000 customers in Texas and more than 45,000 customers in Louisiana were reportedly without power early Monday morning. One area weatherman pointed out that the area of the state has now been hit by two hurricanes and one snowstorm in less than nine months.
This year’s East Zone season closes on Jan. 31, while the Coastal and West zones close on Jan. 24.