Louisiana’s 2020 teal season ends with mixed results

The 2020 Louisiana teal season is in the books, and much like the rest of 2020 it too included a number of issues that led many hunters to struggle. From the ongoing impacts of Hurricane Laura in southwest Louisiana, to extremely high tides resultant from Hurricane’s Sally and Beta in southeast Louisiana, the season had plenty of challenges. But despite impacts along the coast, the September aerial survey conducted by LDWF indicated that nearly twice the number of teal had made it down from the previous year. As a result, reports across the state varied greatly from “best season ever” to the worst.

In southeast Louisiana’s coastal marshes near Delacroix and Reggio, Mike Smith of Louisiana Marsh Guide Service managed to put together a decent season despite the two storms that affected nearly the entirety of the 16 days allotted.

“Overall we had an above-average season, saw more teal than we did last year,” Smith reported. “Even with the high tides, the birds started hitting smartweed in the area and that gave us some areas to target them with good results.”

Flooding

Unfortunately for Smith and others in the area, the persistent floods also led to some cancellations in bookings due to access concerns but for those that went, there was some success to be had.

On my own trips to the Delacroix marshes, we noted seemingly more birds than usual in our area to start the season but they soon left for shallower waters once the tides started rising on persistent easterly winds. Success in the area was very spotty, at best.

Tropical storms kept tides well above normal, plaguing hunters the whole season in St. Bernard Parish.
Tropical storms kept tides well above normal, plaguing hunters the whole season in St. Bernard Parish.

The marshes of the northshore area including Big Branch NWR along with Pearl River WMA similarly suffered from extremely high tides that flooded access roads and boat ramp parking lots. Venice and the surrounding areas also took a hit from the two storms, with significant impacts to key waterfowl habitat. However, for those hunters able to locate the shallowest waters available, be it in the marsh or in flooded pastures, there was some strong hunting to be had on either side of the Mississippi River, with impressive reports coming from Pointe a la Hache as well as Myrtle Grove.

A strong season for some

For the rice country of southwest Louisiana, it was largely business as usual with plenty of teal finding hunters’ straps, in numbers some had not seen in recent memory. Haiden Richard with Southern Parish Outdoors had a very strong opening weekend that stayed fairly consistent all the way to the end.

“We had 42 birds in 40 minutes on opening day, just unreal action,” Richard said. “After that, we had a slow middle weekend but soon saw another push of birds and it was on through the closing weekend.”

Richard noted that for many, it was the best season many could recall in the greater Gueydan area.

I was fortunate enough to take part in a lottery hunt at LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area to close out the season and had a wonderful experience with plenty of birds for quick limits and a tour of the beautiful grounds the facility sits upon out in the marshes below Gueydan.

The author enjoyed a lottery hunt at LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area.
The author enjoyed a lottery hunt at LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area.

For others in southwest Louisiana, they made the best of what was left after Hurricane Laura’s devastating impacts to the coastal marshes. Some hunters even waited for overnight curfews to expire at 6:00 a.m. before heading to the blinds in and around Cameron Parish, with mixed results in the impacted marshes. For many, however, access to their favorite marshes was either physically blocked or denied by land management, thus keeping hunters out altogether.

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Darren Digby
About Darren Digby 61 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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