Ice temporarily invades north Louisiana duck season

This is the view many duck hunters found at their duck blinds on Christmas weekend as a brutal cold front swept through the south — lots of ice and few ducks.

Hunters across much of north Louisiana awoke to brutal conditions in the duck blinds as temperatures plummeted to the 10 degree range across the far northern parishes.

“It was brutal for sure,” said Cole Barthel, an avid duck hunter who also helps with the daily online Simmons’ Sporting Goods Duck Report. “That’s not the way you normally describe duck hunting, but on Friday, Dec. 23, that’s it. Brutal.”

Barthel reported that the fields he and his hunting companions normally hunt were locked up pretty hard and most others in the area were, too. They froze over quickly when the temperature got so low so fast and there was ice everywhere. But Barthel said they just had to go try it and they weren’t alone. People all over the area went to the woods and fields just to see and just to say they did, he said.

“To make things worse, there just aren’t many ducks in our area right now,” he said. “It’s been a great season so far, but the past few days the number of birds has dwindled. On Friday, we ended up with six ducks and a couple of geese. We had been limiting out pretty much every day of the first split and into the second.”

Harder to hunt

Barthel said there were some birds in the area in deeper water, but they were staying put. Saturday, it was even worse as temperatures didn’t get above freezing all day. It was Monday before most places thawed out enough to hunt. He mostly hunts the Morehouse and Richland parish areas.

“The folks that had deep holes and backwater lakes, those kind of things, they did better,” he said. “That water wasn’t frozen over, but it was hard to get to. And there still aren’t that many ducks there. But things can change overnight.”

Most of the rice fields and flooded woods in the areas in north Louisiana are shallow and they freeze up fairly quickly. Ducks will not land on ice unless it’s their last option, so even calling them close enough to a decoy spread to see doesn’t mean they’ll get within shooting range, he said. And the ice makes it treacherous to walk, tough on machinery and really uncomfortable. Even if you can keep warm with today’s advanced outdoor gear, all the extra gear like gloves and facemasks make it harder to hunt. And if you don’t have them, you just plain freeze.

About Kinny Haddox 595 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.