Day 17: Good start to second split

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It was a good day Saturday to open the second split. Everybody got in their hunting before the rain hit and we got a good wind for those that had to hunt up into the morning. There were more birds than we have seen so far this season. We ended up getting a limit of 30 and we had some specks, too. I wouldn’t say they were swarming the blind, but we had a lot of ducks flying. They worked pretty well, too.

To be honest, it’s usually that way on the opening day of the second split. We are still hurting for water in a lot of areas for sure. Most reported seeing some good birds this morning and there were quite a few limits reported.

Hopefully this change in weather will help bring in some more birds and won’t run the ones we’ve got off. If this front passes without a lot of lightening and thunder, we should be good to go for a few days.

Time will tell. Be safe out there.

Check out some of the LDWF December aerial survey report, which was completed Friday:

The December 2021 duck estimate for coastal Louisiana and Catahoula Lake is 1.4 million, which is the lowest December estimate on record. Although it represents a slight (8%) increase from November’s 1.3 million, it is 800,000 less than last December’s estimate of 2.2 million (-41%) and 50% below the
long-term average of 2.6 million. Comparably low December estimates took place in 1982 (1.5 million), 2001 (1.6 million), and 2004 (1.7 million). This estimate is heavily influenced by the high count at Catahoula Lake as both coastal regions show marked declines from last December: Southwest(-27%) and Southeast (-68%). Additional low points include the estimate of only 16,000 mottled ducks: 2,000 lower than November, half of last December’s estimate (32,000), and 74% below the long-term average (62,000) for the species, and a decline in mallards (-36%) from last December’s record low (50,000) to a new December low of 32,000. Alternatively, two species are above their long-term December averages: Blue-winged teal (+82%), and Canvasback (+80%).

Northeast Louisiana: An additional 118,000 ducks and 171,000 geese were counted during the cruise survey in NE Louisiana. More than 96% of the ducks counted were dabblers with pintail (36%), gadwall (24%), shoveler (16%), and green-winged teal (14%) the most abundant species. The largest concentrations of duckswere found on pumped agricultural fields near Vidalia (28,000) and Bunkie (25,000). Nearly as many ducks (20,000) were found in the Bonita-Mer Rouge agricultural region, but the density was much lower in this large survey area with a high percentage of flooded habitat. However, goose numbers in Bonita-Mer Rouge (141,000) were 82% of the total goose count in all of NE Louisiana, the vast majority being light (lesser snow and Ross’s) geese with greater white-fronted geese making up 12%. Other large flocks of geese were observed around Highway 15, east of Russell Sage (10,000), east of Hebert (9,000), and south of Vidalia (7,000). Northeast Louisiana continues to experience moderate drought conditions with the far northeast corner in severe drought. This continues to have widespread effects on the availability and distribution of potential waterfowl habitat. Many traditional duck areas in the region were dry or had very little water including many public areas which rely on rainfall to flood habitat or pumping surface water, which is unavailable without the accumulation of runoff. Both Russell Sage WMA and the Mollicy unit of Upper Ouachita NWR were dry. Additionally, Tensas NWR, and Grassy Lake, PommeDeTerre, Richard K. Yancey, and Spring Bayou WMAs all had very little water. Boeuf WMA impoundments and Wham Brake had suitable water, but few ducks.

To the southeast of Catahoula Lake, Delta and Saline Farms were less than 20% flooded and 3,000-6,000 ducks were counted in each. Northwest Louisiana: Like NE Louisiana, the landscape in NW continues to be dry, but duck numbers have improved slightly since November. 10,000 ducks were estimated during the cruise survey of traditional waterfowl-holding areas in the region, and half were observed on three privately-managed properties with pumping capabilities. Impoundments along the Red River from lock 4 to Shreveport, the Lower Cane unit of Red River NWR, and north Toledo Bend also had ducks due to the dependability of water. Public lakes and wetlands continue to suffer from both drought and invasive aquatics. Black (Capmpti), Bistineau, and Wallace Lakes are all low and covered with salvina, hyacinth, or both. Gadwall made up 40% of the species, followed by scaup (10%), green-winged teal and mallard (each 8%), and pintail (7%).