Teal season strong for many, but Southeast Louisiana struggled

Hurricane Isaac impacts success in Delacroix, Venice, Houma marshes.

As the last feathers hit the pond on the September teal season, many hunters around the state were happy with their newly stocked freezers. With overall teal numbers up for the state, those birds that came down were welcomed with habitat that was in generally good condition from rice fields and crawfish ponds to flooded sloughs and cypress swamps

Freshwater marshes in Central and Southwest Louisiana largely fared well, with summer rains significantly improving habitat from one year ago.

However, hunters in the southeast corner of the state, still licking wounds from Issac’s recent passage, largely struggled to get in on the action. As if the damaged marshes and washed out feed weren’t enough, tides stayed generally higher than normal for much of the season, making holding birds very difficult.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries surveys of Sept. 10-12 painted a grim picture for Southeast Louisiana hunters, with 23,000 fewer teal in the area versus last year’s survey, a record low.

However, numbers were encouragingly strong for Southwest Louisiana and Catahoula Lake hunters, with both areas showing marked increases from a year ago.

Despite the number of birds in his area, Mike Smith of Louisiana Marsh Guide Service still managed to put together a decent season with at least a few birds taken on every hunt.

“Overall, we definitely saw a below-average number of teal in the Delacroix area,” Smith reported. “The flooded pastures in the area left over from Hurricane Isaac kept a lot of birds out of the marsh.”
Despite the less-than-stellar teal season, Smith is optimistic for the regular season, as there have already been sightings of pintail, wigeon and gadwall in the area.

Like the Delacroix area, hunters in the Venice area and other lower Mississippi River marshes saw far fewer birds than they’re accustomed to. Reports out of Venice indicated the hunting to be “spotty” at best, with some hunters taking limits on one day then struggling the next.

The marshes of the Lake Pontchartrain Northshore, including Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge and Pearl River Wildlife Management Area, were similarly poor.

Roland Cortez of Cajun Fishing and Hunting Charters also reported spotty hunting in the marshes of lower Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

“It was OK, but not the best I’ve seen for sure; very hit and miss,” Cortez said.

Like Smith, he also cited local flooded cow pastures and the high water in the marshes as reasons for the slow action.

“I made one hunt in a flooded pasture, and it was unreal — thousands of teal,” he said.

One bright spot in the area was Point-aux-Chene WMA, where Cortez reported some good teal hunting and promising habitat conditions for November’s duck season.

Nevertheless, there were plenty of hunters who enjoyed some great hunting in the remainder of the state where Isaac’s impacts were a non-factor.

Hunter Shaffett with Whispering Oaks hunting lodge said the hunting was as good as advertised in the fields near Vidalia.

“The club took over 600 teal, including two banded blue-wings,” he reported.

Shaffett noted that the milo and millet fields were the place to be as the birds piled in to feed. The guide also reported seeing gadwall, pintail and specklebelly geese in the area.

Big Lake Guide Services’ Nick Poe reported a great couple of weeks in the marshes near Big Lake.

“It was good over here, about as good as it gets,” Poe said.

Though limits were missed on a few hunts, Poe indicated that it wasn’t for lack of birds.

“A few days the weather made things tough, but overall we saw plenty of birds each day,” Poe said.

Like many others, he noted a remarkable number of later-season ducks like pintail, shovelers, and gadwall arriving early. Green-winged teal also made up a surprising portion of the outfit’s bags.

In the rice fields of Welsh, David Faul of Bin There Hunting reported an excellent teal season, with over 700 birds harvested.

“We had limits most days with plenty of birds; I hope it carries over into the regular season,” Faul said.

Reports from the heart of the Southwest Louisiana rice belt were similar, with good hunting reported in the traditional locations like Gueydan, Klondike and Thornwell.

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About Darren Digby 67 Articles
Darren Digby has been hunting and fishing the marshes of Southeast Louisiana since childhood. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife Ella.

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