Weather hasn’t driven ducks down yet

Get off the bank, and drop anchor in the middle of large lakes to greatly increase your duck harvest this winter.

If you were one of the hunters who had an abysmal duck opener, cheer up. Better days are yet to come.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries conducted a duck survey last week, and despite favorable habitat, they found that numbers were down across the coast. Biologists concluded that the weather hasn’t been sufficiently cold across the continent to move large populations of birds into Louisiana.

At the time the survey was conducted — Nov. 5-7 — the state’s biologists estimated that 1.6 million ducks were in coastal Louisiana and on Catahoula Lake. That’s 30-percent lower than last year’s estimate of 2.3 million birds for the same time period, and 25-percent lower than the 30-year average of 2.1 million.

Biologists also discovered that the vast majority of these birds were holding in Southwest Louisiana. Of the 1.6 million ducks in the state, 1.4 million were west of the dividing line drawn from New Iberia to Marsh Island. The southeast marhes held a paltry 160,000 ducks.

The plurality of ducks in Southwest Louisiana were blue-winged teal (432,000), followed closely by gadwall (410,000). By contrast, only 22,000 bluewings and 67,000 gadwall were found in Southeast Louisiana.

Catahoula Lake held a total of 92,000 ducks, 56,000 of which were pintails.

The total gadwall count statewide, 498,000, is far below last year’s count of 1.3 million for the same time period. But this year’s count of bluewings (455,000) is much higher than last year’s (99,000).

This led biologists to their conclusion that conditions are still too warm across the continent.

“Prior to this week’s cold weather, there has been only one mild front since the end of summer,” the report reads. “Biologists in Minnesota and the Dakotas reported delayed migrations, and it wasn’t until late last week that they saw movements of birds into and through those states. … Given the unusually large number of blue-winged teal seen in coastal Louisiana … we suspect there has not been sufficient cold weather to push ducks into the state.”

About Todd Masson 690 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.