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With no hurricanes this past year, ideal vegetation in the ponds and colder temperatures up north than the last few years one would expect it to be a banner year for duck hunting in southeast Louisiana. This year was the least productive year since I have had my lease and I don't claim to know the exact cause. What I do know is the obvious, the ducks didn't show up. I have attached two pictures. The first picture was taken November 2014 with about 20 ducks. The second picture was taken in November 2011 with 54 grey ducks taken that day. For the most part we have the same guys hunting most weekends. It has been the same duck lease for 7 years and the blinds have been in the same place for all 7 years. We have been hunting the same way, decoy spreads etc. every year with guys who know how to hunt ducks. So what gives? I guess the answer is nobody controls the ducks and they go where they want to go, but for years they came to us and this year half of them didn't. I will be in the game next year hoping for better results. Come on September to see what comes...
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Drought
Look it up. Cetral U.S. was in drought in 2011 which was an amazing season. Leaving the shortstopers with little water to keep ducks and grow crops for them. Us down hear in the southeast must have no huricanes, plenty of feed good duck production, cold weather and drought in the upper U.S. to have agood season. It is becoming more unlikley for all of those things to happen in the same year. Larry will probably tell me I am full of crap and that LA kills more ducks than the rest of the Country which is his common answer. Question is how many more hunters do we have. That being said I will be after them next year. What am I going to do move to another state for better duck hunting or pay for charter trips twice a year? I think not.
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The Same
You answered your own question.....'you have hunted the same blinds with the same people in the same spots with the same decoy spreads etc.'...move around, shake things up, build new blinds, watch bird flight patterns as they change to areas of better food and shelter, different decoys, buy new calls, learn to chatter different and different spread layout design.....DUCKS AREN'T STUPID. They have seen the same ole thing for 3 months trying to get to Louisiana to winter. And you are not offering anything enticing or new. This has been one of the best years on record for big ducks in SWLA and NELA we hunt both. We work for it...if your gonna limit out every hunt on big ducks your not going to do it without change.
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Best Years Ever? in SWLA?
In Lacassine, this was, statistically,
the worst season we have ever had....ever.
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Changing tactics helps, but still
There is definitely less birds because they are being short stopped, and I've always agreed with the crowd that says you have to hunt them different to kill but this year that didn't even work. 5 years ago I had 2 pit blinds on 200 acres of flooded rice fields and did fine rotating blinds, because there were plenty of birds. Since then I've tried different spreads, hunting out of layout blinds, and spending money to flood about 1000 acres of rice fields on 3 different farms to hunt where the birds were with layout blinds. That has worked fine until this year, when the birds would come down they would stay for a day or two and then bounce before i even got a chance to hunt them. There is not as many ducks and they just don't want to be here. Changing tactics is a must but it still is not enough, I hunted from Lake Charles to Morgan City to Venice 52 days this year, and every other year for that matter, and have never seen so few ducks.
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combination
I think is a combination of many different things we cant control and some we can.

I hunted a lease with my uncle from when i was 10 till 31 years old. The last 5 years i hunted with him i also had a small lease with some friends.

My uncles lease was phenomenal. We always did great and when we didn't it was really not that bad. I mean a great lease. He had been there for 32 years. In the first 10 years they killed mostly Mallards, Green Wing, and few other species. Last 20 years they would kill mostly greys and maybe 5 Mallards a year if that with some years none. But still did great because of all the Grey Ducks.

My little lease was a 2 maybe 4 bird per blind lease with many scratch days during the time i hunted with my Uncle.

His last 4 years on that lease got worse and worse till they were averaging 3 ducks per hunter when he was beat out by higher dollars. And those guys are saying this year was even worse than the last few.

Crazy thing is that my little lease got a little better every year while theirs was declining.

This year was the best year we've had on this lease to date. 5.65 average ducks per hunter.
Ive had my best hunt of all time on this lease last year. 3 people in one blind 9- green heads 3- mallard hens 2 pin-tail drakes 3- grey ducks 1- teal. We could have shot more mallards that day if we were outlaws but they were awesome to watch come in like they were.
Uncles Lease was 2000 acres 8 members
My lease is 783 acres 6 members
Both lease are hunted about same amount of people and days give or take.
Uncles Lease My Lease
Year 2007 1200 120
Year 2008 1023 196
Year 2009 1156 156
Year 2010 864 398
Year 2011 743 750
Year 2012 620 645
Year 2013 under 300 765

With that being said i think its a combination of things why some don't see ducks they used to and others do or why numbers are lower. Biggest i believe is human intervention which we are all culprits of in some way. Look how many weirs, dams,canals, mudboat ditches, locks, diversions,etc... we have now. This is changing our scenery and changing water, food, salinity, etc... from one area to another. Once great areas are not so great and few not so great area have benefited to become better. But i think overall and long term these things will contribute to coastal Louisiana having to go further North to hunt ducks. But hey god works in mysterious way, and things can keep changing like always. Sorry for long comment, but i really get into these things, its our area that we grew up in that we want our kids to enjoy the same things about outdoors we did. Anyway im no biologist or engineer by far and the above are just my thoughts.
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Ain't there no more
Very disappointing season, which is becoming the norm. I know people say you need to change tactics, use less of this, more or that, move blinds, etc. Facts are 10+ years ago, we had tons more ducks, I have multiple leases in SE LA and I had spots where you didn't need decoys, you could hunt points and shoot all the divers you wanted. I have not seen a dos gris all year on any of my leases. Before, you wouldn't shoot them you would let them land and be decoys, on really slow days they were your filler ducks. They don't come down anymore. I drive across the Causeway several times a week and have yet to see a single dos gris. Where are they. I use to shoot widgeon, spoonies, mallards. Apparently they all are hanging out with the divers (except ringnecks). Fact of the matter times are changing and the ducks are not coming here anymore in the numbers that we are use to. Not sure of the solution, don't think there is one. But now when I am lucky I shoot teal, a few ringnecks and woodducks of which I grow my own, I maintain and have over 45 boxes on my lease, without that not sure we would have any. I had worst season ever on all my leases but the hunt is changed and we no longer have big ducks. I miss the circling and calling and challenge big ducks present. I am sad for my kids but will bring them north to shoot big ducks but am resigned to the fact that hunting in SE LA has changed forever.
Number of ducks killed doesn't matter to me but quality of hunt does and the quality ain't there no more.
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No Ducks
Just to be clear: the report states that the hunting group has used basically the same tactics and blinds for years. Their success has diminished over the past few years. That being said; he also indicated that the quantity of ducks has also diminished by roughly half. So, changing tactics had nothing to do with why there success has gone down. I have said this many times and I will say it again now. My 2 cents as to why marsh duck hunting, in SE LA in particular, has steadily gotten worse in the past 5 years is because: 1. questionable farming practices, DU projects North of LA (think short stopping or at least, altered migration patterns); 2. weather and marsh conditions (hurricane years); 3. technology: SD motors and their capacity to rape every square inch of the marsh, hardware:3.5' mag guns, spinning wing dekes, etc...: 4. PRESSURE. There are more hunters chasing less ducks (again, I only comment on what I know, SE LA). Of all the indicators here, I believe the incredible pressure the ducks find when they make it down here is just overwhelming and has started a general shift in migration patterns (they simple do not migrate here in the numbers as they used to). They are being influenced by all the factors I have stated, and the only one that should have been a non-factor this year (weather, and marsh health, food availability), should not be figured into my assessment. We had what I would call the BEST conditions from marsh health, food availability and COLD weather (plenty good fronts). This is a man-made situation that we have created and I predict that it will only get worse in the next 5-10 years. The damage has been done and the ducks have adapted. I believe it was documented earlier this year that in SE LA, we have twice as many hunters and less that half the amount of ducks as we did just 5 years ago. Think about that.
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too many hunters
Give it a few years when all the newbees hunt without killing they will switch to deer then the conditins of for the ducks will improve.
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wet year
Did any one notice how many heavy rain bands came through this year in the country with cold front after cold front. Those boys up the country got more rain and water for their fields than they could imagine. If upper country looks like a lake with abundant feed.....why would you continue to migrate any further than you have to? We receive many politically based excuses but i think there is a clean and cut answer........if you notice we are having abundant rainfall through out the summer months leading into the fall.....save your money on your duck hunting gear and give it up for that year........if we're drying up in the upper portions of the country......get ready because it will be a great duck reason regardless of our habitat conditions (as long as we have good breeding success and normal hatch timing of course).
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NOT MOTHER NATURE
I have listened to many theories as to why duck hunting has been fair to poor the past few seasons. I have been at it a long time and before we had access to all this internet information; we just went hunting. With the exception of hurricane years when the marsh took a hit and the SAV was sparse, we always did well. There was no hunting and pecking as to whether or not there were any ducks or if so and so did well yesterday. You just made the call based on water levels and if you could time it right when a front was coming, then even better. If the season was open and the temps and winds were favorable; we'd go and do well almost every time. The guys that boast about having a great season this year, for the most part have better access and the time to just drop everything and go when conditions are excellent. Most guys like me have careers that do not afford dropping everything on a Tuesday AM to make a duck hunt. I am a weekend warrior at best; but I know how to hunt, and it AIN'T the SAME anymore. I have also heard guys say ' you gotta move around, find the ducks and set up on em'. That's great if you are either a poacher or just have access to huge portions of marsh. If you are like me and are fortunate enough to have a private lease; then you are still limited to hunting within the parameters of your property. This lends itself to the PRESSURE theory. With probably 8 of 10 hunting rigs being SD mechanized now; the guys that are off during the week just go hunt wherever they want with little if any resistance from lease owners. Then when the lease owners get out, the marsh has been raped and pillaged. TOO MUCH PRESSURE. I have had a lease with Delacroix Corporation since 1994 and until Katrina, I had very few poaching/trespassing issues. Since Katrina and SD mechanization; I can honestly say the past 3 seasons, that I have either had poachers actually hunting on my property or passing through it on EVERY hunt I have made. Literally. Granted, my property is within close proximity to the launch, but its ridiculous.
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Part 2
My original post indicated that I have hunted the same blinds over the last 7 years with similar decoy spreads etc. That post was to illustrate that this years production was way off the pace of past years for a comparison of similar circumstances. I have another lease and other private property that I can hunt but it is all in the Delacroix marsh region on the east side of the Mississippi river. I often try those other areas but the results didn't change much. Very few ducks in the skies was the same in all of the locations. Nearly all of the time the guys hunting our honey area did better. I have hunted ducks for 36 years and have seen the good and bad. When the bad came there was normally an excuse that was the reason, but this year there are none other than rain up the line kept the ducks happy, happy, happy, up there.

Despite taking half the amount of ducks that we normally do we still have a great time in the marsh and at the camp. Fishing has been great. Just mark this year down as a head scratcher. Hopefully next year will be better.

As another guy posted the real duck hunters will stay in the game year after year no matter the results and I am one of them...
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