Day 18: It’s getting better

Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 6.04.12 PMThere were a lot of teal flying early and we didn’t get a limit, but we ended up with 14 teal and two specks. We could have had more, but we decided to leave about 7:30 and just as we unloaded our guns and started out of the blind, about 20 swooshed right in and landed in the decoys. That’s the way it goes sometime.

We did see a lot of high flying ducks — pintails and gadwalls. It was hard to tell if they were going to hang out around this area or not. They were too high for us to work, but at least some ducks are flying. We did talk to some folks that hunted the other blind where we were. They stayed until abut 10:30 and killed 24. That’s about as good a haul as we’ve seen this season.

I think the ducks are starting to come in and hang around a bit. We still have so much water that they have plenty of options. Keep your gear in order and if you need to send Santa to see us for you, we are waiting for him to get you everything you need for your duck hunting.

And remember these two words — be safe. Don’t take chances. No duck is worth getting somebody hurt over.

 

Day 17: Lots of teal !

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We killed 15 this morning, mostly teal, and there were a lot more ducks than most every day of the first split. We had to get out of the blind before 8 a.m. and get in to the store, but it was a pretty good morning. There is a lot of water still and it was another dreary, cloudy day. Both of those work against us, but tomorrow it looks like it is going to be clear and have some wind. I certainly hope so.

As for the ducks, you can read the results of the state aerial survey in yesterday’s post and see the numbers are way down statewide. Talking to folks in Arkansas, it is the same up there all the way to the Missouri line.

We are going up to Jones in the morning and try to get on them. We had a lot of good reports from Saturday and several blinds killed their limits. But again, it was mostly teal and not a lot of big ducks. We have a lot of geese, but not the numbers we usually have. We are still pulling for things to get better as the season moves along. We’ve still got lots of days left. Just stay ready.

Be safe out there.

Friday: December duck count

As we get ready to open the second split in the East Zone, here’s the latest information on state waterfowl populations released today from Larry Reynolds and the LDWF aerial survey for December.

“The 1.94 million ducks estimated on this survey is 36% lower than last December’s estimate of 3.02 million and 32% below the long-term December average of 2.84 million. The Southeast portion of this survey was not completed in November, so no comparisons can be made for that region. However, estimates increased markedly from November in both Southwest (247,000 to 886,000) and at Catahoula Lake (103,000 to 156,000) survey regions. All species increased from November in SW LA except for mottled ducks, which were essentially unchanged. Only ring-necked ducks on Catahoula Lake declined from November (36,000 to 27,000), but approximately that difference was seen on nearby Duck Lake of Catahoula NWR. The estimate of 220,000 canvasbacks is the second highest on record for this survey behind only the 272,000 estimate in January of 2015.

Canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks, and scaup were well above their respective long-term December averages of 49,000, 198,000, and 76,000. However, all dabbling ducks except blue-wings and shovelers were far below their December long-term averages, especially gadwalls, green-wings, and pintails with December averages of 906,000, 480,000, and 344,000 respectively. The estimate for mottled ducks was nearly twice the 19,000 estimated last December but remains far below the long-term December average of 60,000. Although the total coot estimate was only 18% below the most recent 10-year December average of 1,127,000, the 90,000 estimated in SW LA is 79% lower than the 10-year average of 424,000 for that region.

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 9.08.26 PMIn Northeast Louisiana, 118,000 ducks and 121,000 geese (<5% white-fronted) were counted on selected habitats during the traditional cruise survey that was standardized in 2005. That is an increase from the 104,000 ducks and 96,000 geese seen during the November survey, but is 26% fewer ducks and 45% fewer geese than counted last December. Four December surveys in NE LA have been missed or incomplete since 2005, so comparisons with averages may be suspect, but the counts from this survey are 46% below the December average for ducks and 36% below the average for geese. Gadwall (27,000) was the most abundant duck species that along with ring-necked ducks (26,000), pintail (20,000), canvasback (13,000), shoveler (12,000), and mallard (11,000) accounted for 92% of the ducks counted. The surveyed area continues to be wetter than normal with backwater flooding in all river systems and above average flooding in agricultural habitats. The rice harvest is complete, but several hundred acres of soybeans remain in the fields. The largest concentration of ducks was seen at Mollicy Farms where 24,000 ring-necked ducks, 12,000 canvasbacks, 10,000 pintails, and 6,000 mallards were counted. Another 20,000 dabblers were counted in agricultural habitats south of Vidalia, and 14,000 around Bunkie/Grand Cote NWR. The biggest concentrations of geese were seen in agricultural fields east of Bayou Lafourche in Richland Parish and in the Bonita/Mer Rouge area.

Ducks were evenly distributed between the SW and SE coastal survey regions, but dabbling ducks made up 70% of the estimate in SW LA, and diving ducks were 76% of the estimate in SE LA. In SW LA, concentrations of ducks were seen between Little Pecan and Grand lakes, in the fresh marsh NE of Grand Lake, and on a sewage lagoon near Rayne. Concentrations of both snow and white-fronted geese were noted southwest of Gueydan and north of Lacassine NWR. In SE LA, large numbers of ring-necked ducks and coots were seen in the Upper Terrebonne marshes south of Amelia, and smaller concentrations of ring-necked ducks and canvasbacks were counted in the marsh east of Venice.

Water levels in the marsh were lower than in November but remain high in most non-tidal locations across SW LA during this survey. In tidal saline and brackish marshes, water levels were generally low, including areas that were completely mudflat from low tides and north winds. Despite good submerged aquatic vegetation in specific locations, overall it was spotty and below average in abundance. There was abundant shallow flooding in agricultural areas from past wet conditions and recent rainfall with some flooding in most fields and pastures. In SE LA, water levels were also lower than in November, and good to excellent submerged aquatic vegetation was evident in a number of surveyed locations. With the excellent production of seed-producing annual vegetation seen in SW LA during the September survey, good submerged aquatic vegetation in SE LA, and above-average flooding in the agricultural region, good habitat conditions are expected to be maintained in the coastal region.

Water level at Catahoula Lake had fallen since the November survey, but recent rainfall/runoff raised it again to about 6 feet higher than the management target, providing continued excellent habitat for large numbers of diving ducks but relatively few dabblers. The 90,000 canvasbacks and 156,000 diving ducks are the highest in at least the last 10 years, and the 163,000 total ducks is 16% higher than the most recent 10-year average.

Another 19,300 ducks were counted on the Northwest Louisiana survey, primarily on the locks, lakes,
oxbows, and fields along the Red River and upper Toledo Bend reservoir. That is 60% more than November, 26% higher than the 15,000 counted last December, and nearly twice the long-term December average for this survey. Gadwall was the most abundant species (4,900), and along with ring-necked ducks (4,500), mallards (3,200), green-winged teal (2,700), and shovelers (1,800), accounted for 88% of the ducks counted. Approximately 8,000 ducks were counted between Locks 4 and 5 of the Red River, and 7,500 were seen on managed impoundments near Loggy Bayou, but good numbers were also seen at Bayou Pierre WMA. Changes in habitat conditions were mixed from November with less flooding in rice fields but Wallace Lake is now at pool stage and Lake Bistineau water level has risen.

Lastly, in December and January, LDWF conducts a scaup survey on Lakes Maurepas, Pontchartrain, and Borgne. An estimated 134,000 scaup were seen on this survey including 2,300 and 132,000 on Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain, respectively.  The birds on Pontchartrain were tightly concentrated on transects through the northwest portion of the lake. There were few birds on all other lines. That is far more than the 14,400 scaup seen on this survey last December, 34% higher than the most recent 5-year average of 100,000, but 33% lower than the long-term average of 190,000 in December.

Coming Saturday….Day 17

The second split of the East Zone of Louisiana’s 2018-19 duck season opens up this Saturday, December 15, and runs through January 27.

Get your ducks in a row and be ready! It will be Day 17 of the 60-day season. The first split was pretty bad, but things are lining up for a much better go of it the second half of the season. Make sure you are ready.

 

Big Deer Are Moving 

It’s that time again and Big Deer are moving! We are seeing some Big Bucks taken in the area. Don’t forget to bring your Buck by Simmons’ Sporting Goods for Our Annual Big Buck Contest. We have 20 Different Categories including Youth, Open, Non-Typical, Women and Many More. Check Out this Awesome Entry by Addison Shelton from Delhi, Louisiana! This Entry is Currently Leading in Our Youth Category.

Over $100,000 in Prizes will be given away on Saturday, March 2, 2019 at the Big Buck Awards Day.  And Let’s Face it, Who wouldn’t LOVE a $10,000 Shopping Spree to Simmons’ Sporting Goods? Also, There will be an ATV From Realtree Outdoors up for GRABS! Don’t Miss Out on YOUR Chance to WIN BIG! To Top It Off.. No Entry Fee! Be Sure to Check out all Contest Rules on our Website!

Addison Shelton Youth 2018

Day 16: Happy to see it end

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 9.38.19 PMYou won’t hear this from me very often, but I’m happy to see the split for duck hunting. We need to give them a rest and give us a rest. It’s been a tough first split. In fact, it has been the worst first split that I can remember. It’s been that way from one end of the state to the other. We will get some cold weather this week and the season opens again in Arkansas. Maybe they will run some ducks down here and they will stay. Cold weather should bring some more on down from above us. I think when the second split opens up, we could be loaded up down here. We just have to wait and see.

A few folks killed some today, but it was slow. Mostly teal and gadwalls. There was no wind early and when it picked up the ducks that we have flew. But by 8 a.m., it was pretty much over.

I went back after that big buck I’ve been chasing. That sucker is so elusive. He came out on the other end of the shooting lane this morning. He’s done that pretty regular. When I go one way, he goes the other. I just can’t get in the right place at the right time.  Three times he chased does out in the open, but he was way too far to get a shot at. These next two weeks, I’ll keep after him. If I get him, we’ll have a bonus Duck Report with a picture of a deer! That will be a first.

Take advantage of the time off to get your blind back in top shape and your hunting gear lined up. If you haven’t shot any, it would be a good idea to shoot a few trap or skeet so you’ll be ready. Be safe out there.

 

Day 15: Good many ducks

There were a good many ducks today so that is a good change for sure. Most of them were teal, but that’s fine, too.

We had one blind that killed 21 and we got 22 today. That’s a good day this year for sure. Again, most of them were teal but a few people are killing some gadwalls and wigeons. We have very few mallards being killed in the area.

The good news is that there are tons of ducks coming into south Arkansas. They aren’t coming on down because the season is closed there and there’s no reason to come on down. But when it opens back up, I expect bunches to come down here. With our season closing Sunday afternoon, maybe they will build up over the next two weeks and be here in numbers for the second split.

I’m torn about tomorrow. I want to go get the ducks, but that big buck that has been alluding me is the middle of the rut, so I may go back after  him. I’ll let you know tomorrow. Either way, you are going to need some bug spray again!

In any case, be safe out there and enjoy the last day of the first split.

 

 

Day 14: Dodging rain; shooting ducks

A lot of people like me thought it was going to be pouring down rain this morning and not a lot of people went. But those that were brave killed some ducks. It isn’t everybody, but it’s a lot better than it has been. There are a good many teal and gadwalls. Not many mallards.

I saw some pictures up in south Arkansas where there were wads of ducks working in the fields. They haven’t been there but two or three days and they aren’t far from us. Of course, the season is closed up there, so they aren’t getting run off. When they open back up, there should be some wads of ducks heading this way.

It looks like rain again in the morning, but we will see. I have killed ducks in the pouring down rain before, but I was a lot younger.  Sometimes they fly good after a big rain, too, and maybe that will be the case in the morning. Saturday and Sunday are the last two days of the first split, so hopefully we’ll get in some shooting.

Be safe.

Day 13: Ducks! We got some ducks

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 5.43.45 PMThirteen, as in Day 13 of the first split, wasn’t an unlucky number for us. Nineteen was a lucky number! We got 19 today and could have had a limit, but we didn’t shoot the shovelers. I’m not really into that. We had a lot of teal. The bad thing was nobody was hunting and the birds had shut it down by 8 a.m because there wasn’t anybody out there to keep them stirred up.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 5.43.26 PMWe switched locations and that might have helped, but I just think some more birds are coming in. The season is closed in Arkansas, but some folks up there brushing blinds said a lot of ducks came in the past couple of days there. Hopefully they’ll keep coming in down here. At least we had a little stringer today.

It was a tough morning. We hunted a blind in a field that was rutted up bad from getting the crops out. The farmer didn’t have any time to fix them before all the rain st in and if we wouldn’t have had some strong dudes with us, we might still be sitting in the mud. We had to push going in and coming out. That’s not fun. But there is no limit to what a duck hunter won’t do to go get ’em.

The weather looks unstable the next two days, but maybe the weatherman will miss his forecast a little bit. Either way, it looks like Sunday’s last morning of the first split should be a good one. Hopefully the little off time will get some more ducks in here.

Stay tuned. Be safe.

Here’s a look at the weather forecast:

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Day 12: Encouraging words

I got a call today that we finally had some ducks in some of our blind areas so we are getting everything all geared back up and ready to go in the morning. We had some encouraging reports today for the first time all season. Some folks down on Hwy 15 did pretty good. Three guys got their limit by 8 a.m. They saw a lot of teal. That is surely encouraging.

There’s a big south wind, so I’m hoping that is blowing some more ducks in our way that passed us by the first time. I’ll have a better first hand report tomorrow.

And this weekend, it is going to warm up again and probably be windy. We didn’t have good hunts when it was cold, so maybe the warm weather will stop them here. Who knows. It’s our last few days until the first split ends so we have to make the most of it.

Be safe out there.