Louisiana’s early season teal season has pretty much been a bust. Dry and unseasonably hot weather, lack of rain and lower than usual numbers of birds made it a tough go. The special season runs from Sept. 15 – 30. Cooler temps this week and a lot of new water may help bring in a few more birds, but it is unlikely to make a lot of change. One thing is for sure, though. If you don’t go, you won’t see any. And when that sun comes up every morning, you have to be there to know what’s going on.
We were able to catch up with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Waterfowl program manager Larry Reynolds, who gave us an exclusive update:
“Based on bag check data from WMAs, reports from a folks I know, and my own personal hunting, teal season hasn’t been very good this year,” Larry said. “I got few reports from NW and NE LA, and those were mostly poor until Wednesday, when some birds seemed to move in. The great shooting I heard about was in the rice-field habitat in SW LA, mostly north of I-10 in the Lacassine/Welsh/Jennings area, and in some localized areas of the marsh down at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Like always, there was spotty great hunts all over, but mostly I heard the hunting was fair to poor.”
“There were fewer birds across the state. We had a very late spring this year, and apparently a late hatch. My colleagues reported broods of early-nesting species, like pintails, appearing in habitats about 30 days later than normal. That was confirmed by the LDWF NAWMP Coordinator when he visited that area this summer. Reports from friends and colleagues hunting doves and sharptails in the Dakotas report there are still lots of bluewings in that country as of yesterday.”
Things should get better, though, in time for the big duck season in Louisiana.
“I expect a good number of bluewings to hold here or still be moving through come the November 10th opener in the West and Coastal Zones.” Larry said. “Not that my predictions have been particularly insightful in the past given how quickly conditions and weather change. But we have much improved habitat conditions as far as seed-producing annual vegetation in the Coastal Zone this year, so if water levels stay fairly normal, we should be able to hold birds, including bluewings. If we get a lot of rain, then the shallow flooding in the rice-growing region will support a lot of birds. A lot will depend on water levels and shallow flooding in the East Zone. Bluewings were the number 1 bird in our harvest last year, and despite an 18% decline in the populaiton, I expect them to be important in our harvest again this year.”