Local hunters scratch on opening weekend
Guide Peter Breaux of Gueydan with a limit of blue winged teal. (Submitted Photo/Courtesy of John K. Flores)
What kind of a number is 0.1, anyway? Well, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists who were doing opening day bag checks, 0.1 is the average kill per hunter made among those went out to hunt.
In other words, out of 296 hunters checked on four coastal Wildlife Management Areas, 0.1 isn’t much. In fact, it’s practically nothing.
Patterson local Corey Toups made an opening day foray on the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area only to find the blue-winged teal numbers pretty thin.
Toups said, “We scratched. We had a single teal come in and light outside of the decoys and leave out of range. Other than that, we didn’t see a bird for the opener. We heard very few shots. Sunday, we went down and chose to red fish and didn’t hunt. The teal haven’t showed up on the Delta yet, but when they do, I will be waiting on them.”
Further east, Hunter Andras, owner/operator of Duk Hutz Decoy Anchors, decided to hunt public land after scouting his two duck leases and seeing only four teal between them. His hunt wound up similar to Toups.
“We ended up hunting Lake des Allemands, where we saw about a dozen teal,” Andras said. “We didn’t fire a shot. Everything stayed out about 500 yards. Teal season is always slow for us, but the big duck season really picks up for us, where we get limits. I have to say the highlight of opening weekend was we sold four dozen anchors to hunters by boat.”
To the southwest, once again rice field country was the place to be on opening weekend. And, depending on where you hunted determined whether or not you got your limit.
Josh Sonnier, owner/operator of Feet Down Guide Service in Gueydan, farms and hunts several fields in a 30-square mile area. Sonnier hunted only four of his blinds opening weekend. Two of his blinds did well, while the other two struggled.
Sonnier said, “We could have hunted more blinds but why when the teal aren’t there? We had to cancel several groups of hunters for lack of birds. Two of our blinds killed limits the first three days. It’s hard to say why one blind will do better than another.
“It isn’t always because of feed in the rice fields,” Sonnier said. “The way combines are today, there is very little waste grain.”
Owner operator of Odyssey Outdoors, Brent Sawyer, hunts the Welsh area near Jennings. Sawyer mentioned 13 hunters killed a total of 41 teal on the opener. Basically, three birds per hunter but better than 0.1.
East to west, the problem this past weekend wasn’t a lack of excitement or participation on hunters’ behalf.
What it boiled down to, plain and simple, was the 97,500 blue-winged teal counted during the Sept. 6-8 Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries aerial survey last week was well below the 247,500 counted a year ago.
What’s more, it is the second lowest estimate on record for a September survey.
To the north, the report stated Catahoula Lake’s teal estimate of 2,000 was slightly less than what was seen the last three years but well below the 18,000 counted in 2012 and 49,000 counted in 2010.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Waterfowl Study Leader Larry Reynolds said, “My son, a friend and I killed 11 teal on Saturday and 16 on Sunday in the marsh south of Creole. Twenty-four of them were adult males. I heard similar age/sex composition from Rick Hall in Klondike and Paul Yakupuzak in Thornwell, which if representative, means we still are early in the migration.”
Sonnier mentioned that though much of the water from recent flooding in southwest Louisiana had receded, there still was plenty of water around to spread birds out. What’s more, the September aerial survey summary revealed that conditions up the flyway haven’t been conducive for moving large numbers of blue-winged teal into Louisiana.
The report stated, compared to 2015, habitat conditions are much wetter in states to the north, and there have been no early cold fronts as of yet.
For those interested in booking a hunt with Feet Down Guide Service during the teal or upcoming duck and goose season, contact Sonnier at 337-329-3900.
To book a hunt with Henning Guide Service in Thornwell, contact Captain John Saucier at 337-912-5966.
The September teal season doesn’t end until the 25th, giving duck hunters two more weekends to hunt. Now’s not the time to quit – maybe pray for a cold front – but not quit. After all, when the average teal per hunter is 0.1 there’s only one direction to go.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Flores is The Daily Review’s Outdoor Writer. If you wish to make a comment or have an anecdote, recipe or story to share, you can contact John K. Flores at 985-395-5586 or at email@example.com or on his Facebook page, Gowiththeflo Outdoors.