Hunters report slow opening weekend for teal season

But remain hopeful action will pick up with cool front, full moon later this week

Hunting reports from Buras to Welsh and Pecan Island up to Catahoula Lake indicated what many duck hunters seemed to be expecting: teal — at least in large numbers — really hadn’t yet made it to Louisiana in time for opening weekend.

No cool weather yet up north to push birds down, lots of water on the landscape because of recent South Louisiana flooding and poor aerial waterfowl survey results last week all were indicators birds would probably be tough to come by — and for lots of people, they were.

Harvest number from Saturday at state wildlife management areas including Atchafalaya Delta, Pass a Loutre, Salvador and Point aux Chenes indicate only 64 teal were harvested — well below the eight-year average of 754 birds for those WMAs on opening day.

“It was slow, slow, slow,” said Capt. Cody Obiol, with Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras. “On Saturday, we killed a couple of birds with three boats. I didn’t hunt, but the three guys that did — one boat had three, one boat had four and one boat had nine. Saturday they weren’t here.

“I talked to some guys who hunted Sunday morning and they said there were a lot more birds, but not quite enough to get a limit.”

David Faul, with Bin There Hunting in Welsh, said he didn’t see a single teal in his rice fields until Friday afternoon.

“It wasn’t the opening weekend we’re used to, that’s for sure,” Faul said. “But it turned out to be decent: We got 127 ducks with 44 hunters over both days — about three per man.

“It could have been worse, but we normally come in after about 30 minutes with limits of ducks for 40 or 50 people. We stayed out until 9 o’clock both mornings, and each blind would come in with four or five, or six or eight.”

His regular morning trip to a gas station in town where hunters typically gather told the story of the weekend, he said.

“Everybody was pumped up Saturday morning, ready to go out on the opening day of teal season,” Faul said with a chuckle. “Sunday morning, I went in there and there were a lot of long faces.

“Some guys didn’t even see a bird, and I was thinking that was going to be the shape we were going to be in. There were a few guys that did well. If you happened to be in one of those places where the ducks were, you did really good. But there were only two or three spots like that around here — other than that, the ones that were there dispersed out and we got lucky.”

Over in Pecan Island, New Iberia’s Chris Champagne said the only luck he had was bad.

“I wish I had something to tell you. I went Saturday morning and watched a pretty sunrise, and saw a bunch of alligators swimming around, but no teal,” Champagne said. “We didn’t fire a shot. It was terrible — not a thing.”

Up on Catahoula Lake, Brett Herring, head guide with ShellShocked Guide Service, said heavy pressure made the relatively few birds there even harder to hunt.

“Saturday was spotty at best,” Herring said. “There was such an influx of people and surface drives — it seems like more and more people each year.

“There’s just a lot of people out there, and the few birds we had, it pushed a lot of them off.”

Herring said his three groups of hunters each had eight to 14 birds per blind. But on Sunday, he took clients to private rice fields in Rapides Parish and cleaned up.

“We shot 10 limits by 7:15,” Herring said. “The birds are really holding in there. There’s no pressure on them. We’ve got 2,200 acres privately leased, so nobody can mess with them and disturb them.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve got thousands of birds there, but we’ve got a good little shoot every two or three days for sure.”

Over in the Caernarvon area in St. Bernard Parish, Sportsman TV producer Jared Serigné said he had a pretty good weekend, and saw even more birds on a hunt Monday morning.

“They showed up overnight Friday, or had been staged somewhere where no one saw them scouting,” Serigné said. “I had a good hunt Saturday and a good hunt just now. We’re holding a few.

“I don’t think there’s been a major migration yet, but there’s a decent enough wave to make it worth going.”

Back in the western part of the state in marshes near Sweet Lake, Capt. Nick Poe with Big Lake Guide Service also reported seeing relatively few teal.

“It was tough,” Poe said. “Sunday was a whole lot better. We killed six Saturday and 18 on Sunday. There were more birds in the area, so it was a lot more promising.”

Despite the slow start, Poe said it wasn’t time to push the panic button. And he actually sent a photo from a Monday morning hunt appearing to show six hunters with limits of birds.

“I think we’re going to end up being alright. It’s happened before. I remember we had a year like this a few years ago where it was the same thing,” he said Sunday. “I think I scratched four days in a row for opening week, then I killed six one morning, and then every morning after that we killed limits.

“So they might be just a little bit late. Like I said, we haven’t had a front or weather to push anything down.”

Poe said the flood water, especially in Southwest Louisiana, was also definitely a contributing factor.

“There’s tons of water all the way across the coast, especially over this way. People are still having trouble getting their rice out, so you’ve got a lot of rice that’s got water all the way up to the heads, so the teal don’t even have to move,” he said. “They can sit there with all the water they need and all the food they need, so the water is an issue.

“Plus, I just don’t think they’re here yet.”

At Catahoula Lake, Herring agreed, and noted there was lots of additional water in that area as well, which is allowing the birds to spread out more than normal.

“There are little pockets of water everywhere …,” he said. “They have other places to go, so when you pressure them real hard they’re going to go to those places that are normally dry but have water right now.

“A teal bird will get in a road ditch. I love my wife to death, but the only thing more unpredictable and crazier than a woman is a teal.”

About Patrick Bonin 1315 Articles
Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and