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“Squirrel season is almost here, and almost 90,000 hunters could be headed into the woods this weekend in pursuit of tasty Bayou State bushy tails. According to the most recent hunter surveys from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, squirrel hunting is second only to deer hunting in terms of numbers of Louisiana hunters, with duck hunters coming in third. “
You can read Chris Berzas’ whole story online by copying and pasting this link in your browser:
Josh Pittman with the top buck in last year’s Archery division — 18 point, 184 2/8 from Union County, AR
Welcome to Simmons’ Sporting Goods 2016-17 Deer Hunting Report. We will have all kinds of hunting information for you here and reminders about our annual Big Buck Contest.
Make sure you check out the information for the contest here on the Simmons’ Sporting Goods website and good luck in the field!
Hunting seasons are finally here. It’s time to get bowed up. A little cooler weather. Deer are on the move. And Louisiana’s bow hunting season for deer in Areas 1 & 2 opens up Saturday, October 1.
Make sure you are ready! If we can help in any way, come by and see us. That’s what we are here for! Be safe out there.
Normally when we say there are a “few teal around” that means that everybody is seeing some, but hunting isn’t really that great. It’s also a signal that some folks might be seeing more than they’ll admit, but just say “a few” to keep the conversation going.
Well, this season, “a few teal” has been exactly that. A few teal. Very few teal. It’s just so blamed hot and it’s dry to boot. There isn’t much water and folks haven’t pumped water in most of the duck holes yet. Most of the farmers are still getting crops in. So if there are any teal around heading into the last weekend, if you’ve got water, you should see them.
We went a couple of times and the blind killed 15 one day, but only four the next trip. That just isn’t worth it in this heat. You never know, though. We may get some in for the weekend. It’s better than mowing the yard.
If you go, take plenty of mosquito spray, dress light and watch out for snakes. Be careful out there. And good luck with getting a few teal.
One thing duck hunters look forward to almost as much as cold fronts in the Fall is the annual information on survey results for waterfowl populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s report on 2016 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June by FWS and the Canadian Wildlife Service shows overall duck numbers in the survey area are statistically similar to last year and remain steady.
Total populations were estimated at 48.4 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area, which is 38 percent above the 1955-2015 long-term average. Last year’s estimate was 49.5 million birds. The projected mallard fall flight index is 13.5 million birds, similar to the 2015 estimate of 13.8 million. The main determining factor for duck breeding success is wetland and upland habitat conditions in the key breeding landscapes of the prairies and the boreal forest. Conditions observed across the U.S. and Canadian survey areas during the 2016 breeding population survey were generally poorer than last year. The total pond estimate for the U.S. and Canada combined were 5.0 million, which is 21% below the 2015 estimate of 6.3 million and similar to the long-term average of 5.2 million.
“In light of the dry conditions that were observed across much of the northern breeding grounds during the survey period, it is reassuring to see that the breeding population counts were little changed from last year,” said DU Chief Scientist Scott Yaich. “But, with total pond counts similar to the long-term average, and with hunting season and winter mortality being a relatively small part of annual mortality, it’s not surprising to see that populations largely held steady.
“What’s not reflected in the report is that there was fairly significant improvement in habitat conditions after the surveys were completed,” said Yaich. “In some key production areas, heavy June and July rains greatly improved wetland conditions. This could benefit brood rearing and the success of late nesting species, as well as give a boost to overall production through re-nesting by early nesting species.
“Watching the changing habitat over the spring and summer this year underscores the importance of two things: First, we must simply accept that habitat and populations are going to vary over time. They always have and they always will. Second, that’s why we need to keep a steady hand on the course of our conservation efforts. Our job is to steadily make deposits into the habitat bank account so that when the precipitation and other conditions are right, the ducks will do the job that they do so well, which is to produce more ducks and provide us all a nice return on our investments.”
The spring surveys provide the scientific basis for many management programs across the continent, including hunting regulations. Individual states set their hunting seasons within a federal framework of season length, bag limits and dates. Hunters should check the rules in their states for final dates and bag limits.
When Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Waterfowl Leader Larry Reynolds describes his first migratory waterfowl report as “rather disconcerting”, it doesn’t exactly make you want to look at the numbers. But we have to hope it’s going to get better!
Reynolds and other state waterfowl experts just completed and released their first 2016 Fall survey. From what hunters in north Louisiana have been saying, the same conditions are apparent here. Here are the details of the official survey.
“The estimate of 97,500 blue-winged teal is far below the 247,500 estimated last September from an incomplete survey, and is the second lowest estimate on record for this September survey. Only the 50,000 estimated in September of 2013 was lower. This estimate is 33% below the most recent 5-year average of 145,000 and 59% below the long-term average of 236,000 bluewings for this survey.
The estimate in SE Louisiana was the lowest on record by far. Small numbers of teal were observed in only 2 locations on all SE survey transects. Distribution was similarly poor in SW Louisiana, with nearly all bluewings counted in agricultural habitats and only 2 notable concentrations, both in fields north of White Lake near Gueydan . The 2,000 bluewings counted on Catahoula Lake was only slightly less than what was seen the last 3 years, but far below the 18,000 counted in 2012 and 49,000 in 2010. The estimate for mottled ducks is also the lowest on record for this survey and 57% below the most recent 5-year average of 28,000.
Habitat conditions are currently characterized by high water levels in coastal marshes and higher than average flooding in agricultural areas. Flooding from near-record August rainfall continues to overtop levees and roads in a few locations in SW Louisiana, but excessive flooding was evident in nearly all marsh habitats. Although less prevalent in SE Louisiana, higher than average water levels were noted in many locations. Submerged aquatic vegetation growth was evident in many locations in SE LA, but was less abundant in most areas compared to 2014 and 2015. It was difficult to assess habitat quality with such high water levels in SW Louisiana, but significant expansion of invasive aquatics was noted along some transects, especially water hyacinth in the marshes south of White Lake, and water hyacinth and salvinia in the marshes east of Lafitte. Water level at Catahoula Lake has been maintained relatively well this summer despite the challenges of heavy rainfall and runoff, and habitat conditions look fair to good.”
SUMMARY: Clearly, conditions have not been conducive to moving large number of bluewings into Louisiana. Compared to last year at this time, habitat conditions are much wetter in states to the north, and there have been no early fronts as of yet. At least in SW LA coastal marshes, high water levels are currently providing sub-optimal foraging opportunities, so it may be difficult to hold migrants in those habitats compared to shallow flooded fields and pastures of the agricultural regions.
Welcome to the first Simmons’ Duck Report for the 2016-17 season!
We will be bringing you regular reports and duck hunting news heading into the “big duck” season in November. Then we will continue with our daily reports from Jeff for each of the 60 days of the Louisiana East Zone season. Stay tuned!
Louisiana’s special annual teal season is underway. It’s hard to get excited about it with the heat, but there are a few birds down this way. Here’s the gist of it: The Louisiana September Teal Season (Blue-winged, Green-winged and Cinnamon only): 16 days, Statewide September 10 – 25. Daily bag limit – 6 per day; Possession limit – 18.
Be safe out there. Don’t forget your mosquito spray and check out the non-insulated waders featured on our Facebook page: