This time last year, duck hunters were enthusiastic about the prospects of a super season just ahead. Reproduction was good up north so lots of waterfowl would be winging down to Louisiana to spend the winter.
What looked like a great season ahead turned out to be an overall disappointment. Roger Goodell-like factors entered the picture over which Louisiana's duck hunters had no control, sort of like what happened to the New Orleans Saints this season. While states north of us had plenty of water, Louisiana was in the throes of drought conditions. While ducks dabbled in the plenteous waters of Missouri and Arkansas, they over-flew our part of the world. Ducks don't like to kick up dust when they land.
This year, though, a couple of things paint a rosier picture for duck hunters than a year ago. We visited with Larry Reynolds, Waterfowl Study Leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to get his take on this season's prospects.
"I'm optimistic for a good season in most of the state because of the record high reproduction we had on the northern breeding grounds this year," said Reynolds. "Conditions between here and where the ducks are hatched are overall better than a year ago.
"For example, last year states to our north had plenty of water while we were going through drought conditions. This year," he added, "things are switched around. We have the water while the bad drought in the mid-west means the spots that attracted ducks last year are dry. The foundation is there for Louisiana to have a good duck season."
As hopeful as it looks, Reynolds knows that things can happen to taint these optimistic reports.
"As everybody knows, we've heard these good reports before and what we hoped for failed to materialize. We need the weather to cooperate a bit. The Farmer's Almanac, if you place your faith in that document, predicts a drier, colder winter for us, which works in our favor. We have water now but a flood would do away with any good fortune we may expect," he said.
"To be honest, I have no faith in long range weather forecasts. One event can totally change the picture. Take Hurricane Isaac, for example. That one event in such a short period of time, really hit the food resources in southeast Louisiana especially hard.
While it knocked back the duck food down that way, it put a lot of water in northeast Louisiana, an area that had gotten pretty dry. When it comes to weather forecasts, I'm more of a 'wait and see' guy," Reynolds said.
Conditions in southwest Louisiana look favorable this year for good duck hunting while northeast and northwest Louisiana are expected to fare better as well, according to Reynolds.
"Catahoula Lake is in better shape, habitat-wise, this year than last year. The teal season down there was outstanding this year. As long as we don't get flooded out, I believe we're going to have a great duck season over most of the state this year," he added.
Duck season dates are as follows:
West Zone – November 10-December 9; December 22-January 20
East Zone – November 17-December 2; December 15-January 27.
Bag limit is six with the following restrictions: 4 mallards (only two of which may be females), 2 pintails, 1 canvassback, 1 mottled duck, 1 black duck, 3 wood ducks, 4 scaup, 2 redheads.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.