Day 27: Things are getting better

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Don’t ever let anybody tell you that reading the Simmon’s Duck Report doesn’t pay dividends. Not only do you get to keep up with the latest info on area duck hunting, but here’s a Christmas bonus: The first person who comes up to me in the store on Christmas Eve (Wednesday, Dec. shot24) and says “I read the Simmon’s Duck Report” gets a free box of Federal shotgun shells. That could be you! Next week we will be letting you know about some great prizes that you can win by reading the report…stay tuned.

I didn’t get to hunt today, but my son-in-law and three others went and they killed 24. It was their best hunt in a while. I talked to a lot of others who did much better as well. They said it was foggy and the ducks came out of the fog, worked easily and headed for the decoys. We got good reports from around here and better reports from Hwy. 15 and the Delta Area.

Wednesday should be windy and cooler and maybe the hunting will pick up. There’s lots of weather changing things north of us, too, and we should be seeing loads of new ducks.

LOUISIANA WATERFOWL REPORT: 

The December Waterfowl Report from state duck leader Larry Reynolds is in:

Northeast Louisiana: In NE Louisiana, the traditional cruise survey of selected habitats standardized in 2005 was conducted in November and December. In November, 139,000 ducks and 388,000 geese (85% snow geese) were counted with major concentrations of ducks seen in the flooded agricultural fields south of Grand Cote NWR, east of Ouachita WMA, and between Bonita and Mer Rouge, as well as Duck Lake of Catahoula NWR. Mallard and gadwall were by far the most abundant species, accounting for nearly 60% of the ducks seen. Ring-necked ducks and pintails made up another 30%, but almost all the ring-necks were counted on Duck Lake. This NE survey count is slightly above average since 2005 but lower than the 152,000 ducks counted in November of last year. Concentrations of geese were noted in those same agricultural locations, and the total number of geese on this survey was the highest since the survey was standardized. Habitat conditions across most of the survey area was drier than average with only managed water available in the agricultural regions and little backwater flooding in the major river systems.

In December, the survey crew counted only 104,000 ducks and 78,000 geese (87% snow geese) on the same selected habitats. A nearly 40% reduction in the counts of gadwall and mallard, and an 80% reduction in the number of ring-necked ducks more than offset increases in green-winged teal, shovelers, and pintails on this survey. The largest concentrations of ducks were again seen in the agricultural fields between Bunkie and Grand Cote NWR, between Bonita and Mer Rouge, as well as Delta Farms east of Catahoula Lake. This count is nearly 30% below average since 2005 for December, and continued dry conditions are probably a contributing factor. The large flocks of geese counted in November appear to have moved on, possibly to the coast where increases in geese were noted on the coastal transect survey but not quantified. Concentrations were noted in the agricultural fields of Delta Farms, Bonita/Mer Rouge, near Grand Cote NWR, and south of Ouachita WMA.

Statewide: Southeast and Southwest Louisiana have good numbers of ducks. The estimate of 3.20 million ducks from this survey is very similar to November’s estimate of 3.13 million, 64% higher than last December’s estimate of 1.95 million, 45% higher than the most recent 5-year average of 2.2 million and 28% higher than the long-term average of 2.5 million. It is the highest December survey estimate since 1999, when over 4 million ducks were estimated on the same surveyed areas. Estimates for mallard, gadwall, green-winged teal, shoveler, scaup, and canvasback increased from November, while blue-winged teal, pintail, and ring-necked duck declined. Estimates for mottled ducks and wigeon were about the same in November and December. Increases from November in greenwings (+283,000), gadwalls (+200,000), and mallards (+93,000) more than balanced the big declines in pintails (-340,000) and ring-necked ducks (-192,000).

Banded