How ‘bout 3 specklebellies?

(Photo by Darren Digby)

Increase in daily bag limit has Louisiana hunters talking

The Louisiana waterfowl season is only a few weeks away, and ducks and geese alike are steadily arriving to The Boot after a long journey from the breeding grounds.

A significant change will be put into play with the daily limit on specklebelly geese, aka “specks” increasing to three from the long-time limit of two, as announced in March of 2019.

Haiden Richard of Southern Parish Outdoors in the heart of southwest Louisiana’s storied specklebelly country, cites mixed feelings and concerns over the increased pressure and expectations from visiting hunters.

“There is certainly the potential for some big hunts, no doubt about it,” Richard said. “When it’s on, we will likely make some nice piles, but I’m afraid there are going to be some downsides to that limit change as well.”

With higher limits, Richard and others have concerns about heightened expectations.

“We don’t have the birds the area used to, so there will be plenty of days where the prospect of taking three specks per gun will be tough,” he said. “On top of that, there’s also the potential for hunts lasting longer, with hunters wanting to stay in the blind late to wait out flights they hope will come to round out the larger limit, and I’m afraid that added pressure is going to be hard on our already pressured habitat.”

Speck numbers

Telemetry data collected by state wildlife officials raises increasing concerns that specklebelly populations are staying further north than their historical wintering range, with north Louisiana and Arkansas holding more birds through the winter than previously.

Colby Daniels of Top Gun Guide Service near Mer Rouge is another outfit that routinely puts guests on strong numbers of specks. He is coming off a very strong 2019 season and is optimistic that his area can support the limit change.

“Many days last year, we were done with our goose hunts really early, so adding another bird to the bag will give our hunters a little extra value for their money,” he said.

(Photo by Darren Digby)

This is particularly helpful in the early and late seasons when the hunts are goose-only because ducks are off-limits. Nonetheless, Daniels said he and his guides would have been fine with the limit staying at two.

“The reduced number of days, however, may give the geese a rest at season’s end before we start the snow goose conservation season, so that may help us with less late pressure,” he said.

Hunter’s angle

From the average weekend hunter pursuing specks on his own, I’m optimistic at the prospect of being able to take full advantage for when that bunch does it just right. A particular hunt last season stands out, when a bunch finished beautifully at gimme range, and my limit was filled as quickly as I could pull the trigger twice. A third bird would have been just as easily taken in that particular instance, making up for many other times when the birds were too smart for our spread.

Only time will tell how this change impacts Louisiana’s goose hunting. With ducks being fairly spotty in recent years, many are hoping to take advantage of the typically call- and decoy-friendly specks, but it may come at the price of additional pressure on an already-pressured resource.

About Darren Digby 69 Articles
Darren Digby has been hunting and fishing the marshes of Southeast Louisiana since childhood. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife Ella.