Monthly Archives: January 2016

Day 60: It’s over

Never in my memory have I missed the last day of duck season. Until Sunday. We never go hunting in the afternoon, but on the last day, we often go out in the evening and hunt until sunset. Not this year. After Saturday, we had enough.

Hunting for us has been really poor. I’m glad it’s over. And I’ve never said that before in 40 something years that I can remember.

Some folks killed a few ducks in the woods this weekend, but successful hunts were few and far between. Since Christmas, we’ve struggled to have good hunts. We had a few, but nothing consistent.

The first split was pretty good and we had a lot of limits. Even if we didn’t limit, we killed some ducks. But lately, it’s been tough.

I appreciate everyone who reads the Duck Report and hope you had a good season. Thanks for following us and for depending on Simmons’ Sporting Goods for your hunting and outdoor needs. We appreciate you!

Day 59: And then there was one

One day left in the 2015-16 duck season. That’s hard to believe. What’s harder to believe is that some mighty good blinds are killing one duck on some days, maybe two.

There are some folks killing ducks in the woods, but most of the field hunting is bad at best. Arkansas hunters have had some relief from the duck drought the past few days, but new ducks just haven’t gotten here in big numbers.

I wish I had better news to report, but it is what it is. Maybe Day 60 will be a little better. Good luck to those of you who stick it out. Be safe out there.

Saturday last day to enter big buck contest!

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 8.49.50 PMSIMMONS SPORTING GOODS BIG BUCK CONTEST!

Last day to enter your big buck in the contest is Saturday, January 30th. All who enter are eligible for a chance to win the Grand Prize of a $10,000 shopping spree to Simmons Sporting Goods. Follow the link to view rules, prizes, and find out who’s leading in various categories.

http://www.simmonssportinggoods.com/big-buck-contest/

Day 58: Lonesome duck

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 8.03.49 PMI like the movie “Lonesome Dove”, but I hate the real live version when it is “Lonesome Duck“. That’s what we killed Friday morning. One lonesome duck. Then another lonesome duck. Two ducks. That’s it.

This hunt was indicative of the season for us. It’s been a tough one and not much sign of any miracles for the last two days.

Some folks are still killing good numbers of ducks in some woods holes, but not everybody. Hunting the fields is tough right now. We saw loads of ducks today but they would not come near the levee, the blind or the decoys. There wasn’t any wind and these are the same old ducks we’ve hunted the second split. They wouldn’t even work for us.

Some hunters to the north in Arkansas are having pretty good hunts in the flooded timber. One group I talked to today limited out with 32. We had a good hunt there earlier in the week.

Two days to go. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ready for it to mercifully come to an end and move on. That’s how bad it’s been.

Day 57: Woods ducks

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 8.36.04 AMNot wood ducks…WOODS ducks.

That seems to be where most people are having the best success the last few days — in the woods. The only problem with that is there are thousands of acres of flooded woods. if you don’t get in the right acre, you might just be watching ducks fly by or hearing guns going off 100 yards away.

That being said, there still aren’t as many ducks as we usually have at the end of the season. It looks like that won’t change. The weather forecast for closing weekend has the temperatures more like spring break than duck season.

Anyway, stick with them. Three days to go. Better to go and have sorry luck than not to go and find out you were sorry you missed them the last few days. Be safe out there.

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Day 56: Finally! Greenheads!

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We had a great hunt in the woods Wednesday morning. We found a spot where the ducks had been coming and we finally had a good hunt. We didn’t kill anything but mallards.

The morning started pretty good, but it got cloudy and the ducks just stopped flying. We could see the cloud line and decided to wait them out. I’m glad we did. Once it cleared up again, three of us got a limit and when we went out to pick up the decoys, big greenheads were still heading into the woods hole.IMG_0250

At least we got in one good hunt towards the end of the season. I don’t know if it will pick up the last few days of the split or we were just in the right spot at the right time. Either way, I’m glad. We’ve got some good pictures to share with you too. Don’t give up on them. Just a few days left and we need to go down swinging, or shooting, as it may be… Four days and counting…

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Day 55: What we already know

We always look forward to the results of the monthly aerial waterfowl surveys by the LDWF, but we didn’t need one this month to know what was going on. Numbers of ducks are down. Way down.  The 1.85 million ducks estimated statewide on this month’s survey is only 55% of last January’s total of 3.38 million, and is about 39% lower than the most recent 5-year average.

It is the lowest January estimate since 2009’s total and that is the 5th lowest January survey estimate, exceeding those of 1983, 1987, and 2008 as well as 2009. It is not typical for estimates of total ducks to decline from December to January especially to such a degree. However, despite some flashes of winter, temperatures in December were warmer than average, regular rainfall has maintained widespread available flooded habitat, and birds have clearly dispersed from the surveyed region.

If you have been in the duck blind much you already know this, but the official numbers just confirm it. The mallard estimate is the second lowest on record; only the 59,000 in 2009 is lower. It is far lower than the 5-year and long-term averages for mallards on this survey, which are 145,000 and 363,000 respectively.

While it has been bad everywhere, it looks like our area was even worse than the average.

The decline in ducks counted from December to January was even greater on the NE Louisiana survey, where only 106,000 ducks and 88,000 geese were counted on selected habitats. That is less than a third of the 363,000 ducks and 199,000 geese counted in December. The big concentrations south of Grand Cote and between Bonita and Mer Rouge were gone, and the largest groups of ducks were counted east of Ouachita WMA (although far fewer than in December), and at Catahoula NWR. Most abundant species were gadwall, shoveler, and ring-necked duck. Extensive flooded agricultural habitat was evident and there was extensive flooding in the major river systems.

Here’s one surprise. Contrary to large declines in ducks seen in coastal Louisiana, Catahoula Lake, NE LA, and on the scaup survey, 11,300 ducks were counted in NW LA, primarily on the locks, lakes, oxbows, and fields along the Red River and upper Toledo Bend reservoir. That is a 15% increase from the December survey,

Mid-winter waterfowl surveys in other states, and communication with colleagues showed Arkansas’ estimate was below average; Mississippi’s about average, Missouri’s was twice the most recent 5-year average, and Tennessee and Kentucky are reporting above average number of ducks. Extensive shallow flooding is evident over broad expanses of the Mississippi Flyway from southern Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. Combined with far warmer than average temperatures, the winter distribution of ducks this January appears to have shifted northward.

 

Day 54: Nobody wants to go

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 7.04.18 PMWe had somebody go to one of our best blinds this morning. He had to go by himself because nobody even wants to go. He didn’t fire a shot.

That’s bad folks. Real bad. I said Friday that if that super cold front didn’t make it happen this past Saturday and Sunday, it wasn’t going to happen at all. It didn’t happen.

I’m afraid it isn’t going to happen at all. We’ve still got a few days and can’t give up, but it is awful hard to get excited about what we’ve got.

It’s going to rain Tuesday and by the closing weekend, it’s going to be 75 degrees again. Wow. The East Zone season closes Sunday afternoon.

The store is usually full of duck hunters the last week. I didn’t even see a single person in the store wearing camo today. That’s bad for duck hunting and bad for business. Nothing else I can say.

Day 53: Not much better

There’s just no way to sugar coat it. We still don’t have a bunch of ducks down here as we enter the final week of the season.

A few folks killed some in the backwater and some of the rice field blinds produced some shooting, but nothing to brag about. I said we are going down swinging, but it’s hard to get fired up to go. You have to really stick with it for a while to get a good hunt in. That’s highly unusual for this time of the year.

We’ve got seven days to go. We’ll see. Hang in there.

And be safe out in the blind.