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Ducks in Caernarvon/Delacroix

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Bad duck weather but Great Duck Hunting in the Caernarvon/Delacroix area. As most people would say, I did everything wrong today. Late second split, I hunted out of my boat blind in the middle of big water with 6 dz decoys, 3 mojos, and called like mad. We had ZERO wind and low water getting lower. None of that matters if you have ducks!! 3 of us had 2 grays and 16 teal! Lots of pintails down, got some lookers but no takers. All had big long sprigs. Big ducks were not so interested because of the lack of wind but tomorrow will be a different story. Our marsh remains full of ducks. Going back in the morning!
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Same thing
I hunt in Reggio and the same thing I kill more ducks when it's hot than when it's cold. It's like when the freezing cold weather is here it pushes them down to Venice. So me I prefer a west r southwest wind and bluebird day. On cloudy days they to wise and see everything I use to have a lease on canal marine and it was to easy to limit out. Where u hunt
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ducks
No matter if I hunt out of the mudboat or marsh it seems year by year the ducks are getting harder to decoy. Not to mention the lack of big ducks in general. We havent seen those big groups of greys dive bomb us in years. Although I have been seeing more mallards than when I was young. I too am starting to believe the mudboats are jumping the ducks up too much. Seems like canarvens pretty much the only bread winnder down by me nowadays.
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YOUR TOTALLY RIGHT DARREL
THE MUD BOAT ARE THE NUMBER ONE REASON WE DON'T KILL THEM LIKE WE USE TO. LOOK I HAVE ONE BUT THE DUCKS HAVE NO WHERE TO SIT. BACK IN THE DAY ALL THE LITTLE PONDS WERE LOADED WITH GREYS AND NOW ALL THOSE SAME PONDS ARE LOADED WITH PEOPLE IN MUD BOATS.
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Disagree!
I totally disagree about the mud boats. Although they do spook the ducks to some degree, there is way more to the equation than this. Robo ducks, commercialized hunting, pressure of sheer numbers of hunters now days, longer seasons etc. etc... Many years ago I use to hunt Venice with air boats and so did everybody else coupled with the noise of the crew boats and that didn't effect our hunting. The ducks are getting smarter, you must hunt later and change your tactics. The ducks numbers and the number of ducks that migrate south to LA are not near what they use to be too, but I still kill my ducks year after year.
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PS
To you guys that hunt Delacroix in RE to the big ducks, I believe the reason you guys are not seeing the grays like you use to is b/c of the fresh water diversion canals. Delacroix is much more fresh water now which attracts the blue wing teal for example. Gadwalls and green wing teal prefer a saltier marsh. Just saying........
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What I've seen
I am not starting a pissing match here but things are not what they used to be. I think one of the biggest factors is the thousands of acres of habitat that we lost. Where we had ponds we have small lakes that are mud when the water drops.
As for the mud boat traffic several times this season I've had people run through my spread while I was hunting. My lease and property is covered with prop trails where I don't run,someone is doing it and it is not me. Now I'm not saying the mud boats are the problem because everyone that hunted my area always had them.

The wide open terrain gives the birds no cover,when it was ponds everyone rode down the bayous and pipelines to get where they were going not across everyones land.

As far as the freshwater I've got more greenwings now than I've ever seen. Before Katrina the area I hunted was gated and access was limited to the area. We had grays all year long in our ponds. Lake leery pre-K would be covered in ducks mostly grays and the lake was as fresh then as it is now the big difference is the lack of habitat surrounding the lake.
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LOW BIRD
YOU TALKING ABOUT LAKE LERY I CAN REMEMBER HOW MANY DUCKS USE TO SIT IN THERE IT WAS AMAZING THE NUMBER OF DUCKS IN THERE. AND THATS WHATS I MEAN THE EVENING HUNTS WERE SO GOOD THEM BIRDS WOULD GET OFF THAT LAKE AND FILL THE LEASES AROUND IT AND I DONT THINK I EVER NOT SHOT MY LIMIT PRE KATRINA IN THE EVENING. IT WAS A GAURANTY. ALL THESE BIG WASH OUT NOW THEY DONT HAVE TO SIT OUT THERE. SO YOU ARE SO RIGHT ABOUT THAT GUESS IM JUST PLAYING THE BLAME GAME AND THE MUD BOATS SEEMED LIKE A GOOD THING TO BLAME IT ON
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The easy days are OVER!
I am with Coot on this one.....I don't know about the freshwater thang, But, I know this, 'IT'S A NEW BALLGAME BOYZ!' Like it or not, duck hunting has evolved, either roll with it, change tactics and adapt, or hang it up. I use the mudboats to my advantage on slow days, if you stay late as Coot said, the mudboats will help you. Those boats are going to the launch, jumping ducks the whole way, when birds are in the air, I have a chance to get them in my spread! Gotta love the GAME!
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ducks
G zeringue is right the easy days are over completely. Seems like the only way to kill ducks on public land is be an excellent shot...you might only get 10 ducks come in all morning but a good shot will drop his limit and that seems the ticket to hunting these days unfortunately. Just my opinion
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Big Ducks?
I have been hunting out of Caernarvon for 6 years now, right near where bayou Mandeville enters Lake Leary, and the number of big ducks we shoot has dramaticaly declined since years past. I hunt out there at least 2 times a week and I can count on 2 hands the number of ducks I've killed that weren't teal. We get some spoonbill and a few mottled ducks, but the greys are just noexistent where we hunt. We use to get em, but not many in the past 2 seasons. I would definately say that they seem to prefer more brackish, or even salt water than the pure fresh water that we have. We do see some nice flocks of pintail and other big ducks but they just raft up in this large body of water behind us, and they don't really venture into the marsh. Unfortunalty, the open water isn't on our lease so we can't go set up on em. I notice the same thing in Delacroix, plenty big ducks but they raft up by the thousands in some open water areas, they just too smart for me I guess.
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ducks
Its just the freshwater man..look at salvador wma its almost all teal and ringnecks now that they put in the diversion.......it used to be ALL big ducks before the diversion but thats the way it goes...i find you kill way more variety in the brackish marshes but hunting is hunting and its all fun so take it like it comes
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It's easy
The key thing is you have to be where the birds are and want to be. I'm happy taking what the good lord is willing to offer me. I'm still taking my share of birds and bringing friends and family along to enjoy it. Late in the season is just a different ball game and you have to do you leg work to be successful. There are still spots right now where you can pull greys in like they are on a string but it's where they want to be so they are easy to work.
Things have changed and I have other places to hunt but the caernarvon area just will never be what it was. It's just nice to hunt 10 minutes from the house.

Now everyone quit crying and get out there and have a safe and good time.
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Freshwater?
How old is the diversion? It been there longer than me. I have been hunting for about 10 season or so. Pre-K grays were 80% of our bag. My buddy has had this lease for 20+ years and it was mostly grays. After Katrina it started change. I can't say I have an opinion on why. The first 2 years after Katrina was great but has been trending to Teal.

As far as it being the lack of ponds: my experience has been if there is 2 foot chop on lake leary or Lost Lake the Grays rafted. That is Pre and Post Katrina.
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BP Oil Spill,
The diversion was running at 100% this summer b/c of the BP oil spill, but my buddies who hunt that area said the gray ducks started disappearing several years ago, so maybe it's b/c of the land lost from Katrina.
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Caernarvon
Don't get me wrong, we kill plenty teal every year and I'm not complaining. They're fun to shoot at and I think teal and woodies are the best ducks for tablefare. But I still remember back in the day when we would go hunt out there and you never knew what you were gonna shoot on a given day. We would get a real nice variety of birds, but now we just know we're going teal hunting. Also, I seem to remember the marsh lookikng a lot different where we hunt, we would often hide in grass and the birds had no clue we were there. But now we get a lot of feed in the ponds, but its not normal marsh grass like in Bayou Bienvenue or Delacroix, the marsh is just flat with viney looking grass and yellow flowers. Does anyone know the reason for this, I have been wondering for a while why the land looks like this, and I'm very curious? If anyone knows, I would really like to know. Thanks, Jason.
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marsh
I think freshwater marshes tend to have more hydrilla...where as a brackish marsh you have widgeon grass which is what the big ducks absoulutely love...i still just cant figure out where the species diversity is so wide in the brackish marsh but it just is. Honestly i think the marshes around lake pontchartrain(which are brackish) are some of the most productive with a wide variety of species. Thats usually where ill kill alot of ducks also lake borgne area.
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Reasoning
Look up some of Mike Smith's comments on why the marsh near the diversion looks different...pretty interesting thoughts....make you wonder!!
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Long ago
Before the diversion that whole area looked much different. The freshwater changed the types of grasses that grew in the water and the bank. There were no willow trees back there in the late 80's and early 90's for example.

After katrina we still had the wire grass( I think thats the term) but gustov stripped my area down to bare mud and what grows now will offer little to no cover. The freshwater supports this and I doubt that you will ever see the days of hunkering down in pyphine again.

Since gustov I have seen the same decline in big ducks as stated. I will say that the first ducks that we noticed to not frequent the area were widgeon. We stopped seeing good numbers of them by the late 90's but if you went outside they were there.
I've been hunting back there since the mid 80's and watched the change that we thought was for the good but I think the diversion hurt that area by changing the flora that grew and not depositing sediment. That's just my opinion
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Stupid Qusetion?
How in the HECK does a grey duck that is in the air on his migration really know if the water/marsh that he is flying over is fresh or brackish. I do not think they do. I know this, Greys, for the most part, love open water. Yes, I cap them in small ponds broken marsh and open water. It just seems to me that you see more numbers of greys concentrated in open water. I also think less hunters hunt open water. I also know that the state of Louisiana's marsh is mostly open water, hence, erosion. It all adds up if you thoink about it. Back to what I stated earlier,'It's a new ballgame!'
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Feed
Alot of it comes down to the type of feed grass they prefer. The freshwater promotes more coontail and brackish will support widgeon grass.

Greys always did and always will raft in open water they filter back into the marsh throughout the day. The first storm to open our property up was Betsy. Before that it was just small pot holes that you had to drag to and all they killed back then was greys.

It's a different game but you are still matching wits with something with a brain the size of a bean LOL. They think with their stomachs.
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bayou black
hunt fresh water in bayou black. we kill almost exclusively ringnecks and teal. sometimes an occasional woodduck or mallard. years ago we killed grey, widgeon, pintail, and mallards and our lease looks exactly the same as it did then. I believe the problem is lack of ducks!
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Gadwall Food
Ask any duck biologist what the main staple is for grays in south LA. They will tell you 'Widgeon Grass' which by the way only grows in brackish and salt marshes. Nuf Said!
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coot
Yeah coot is absolutely correct widgeon grass is the greatest feed there is...it just doesnt grow in fresh marshes much...not saying i wouldnt take a freshwater lease but whereever coot's lease is awesome ive never seen anyone on here post more birds with that high of a quality...coot has the optimal lease in my opinion..its marsh and you can hunt it very hard almost every day.
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Fresh vs salt
I would not trade my fresh lease for a salt lease. That's just me. It's to easy, I keep decoys out all yr. Long and I kill limits everyday. Granite, it may be ringers and teal rather than greys and widgeons, but I'll take them
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...
I think it's a combination of a lot of different factors. Loss of marsh being the biggest factor, migration patterns etc. That being said, ever notice how the greys you kill in fresh water are smaller, and the greys you kill in salt or brackish have those big baseball heads that start to turn purple and all that chocolate on the wings? As a general rule this is true. Jjoojj, I hunt directly south of you, probably 15 miles or so across Lake Decade. We are shooting greys, mallards, and pintails consistently. You know the entire Bayou Black & Copasaw areas used to be among the best in the world, literally. How many years has it been that mostof the bag has been ringnecks around there? Just saying I think theres alot more to the story....
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ringnecks
We have been hunting orange grove for several years. Untill the year 2003 we killed strictly big ducks. We could go to blinds at anytime of the day and kill our limits of greys, widgeon, etc...
2003/2004 the ringnecks started to take over. then in 2005 we had katrina/rita and had an incredible yr. killing limits of big ducks and geese every day. Since that year we have been killing pretty much ringnecks and bwt exclusively. Why did the ringnecks take over? idk, but i do enjoy shooting them.
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...
Good, fun shooting for sure and the dog doesn't care as long as she gets to pick them up. Just an ongoing conversation with a few guys for the last few years. I'm sure you guys have weighed all possible options. I know the area very well and I am familiar with the history. BTW, hows the specklebellies around there right now? I actually had a shot at 6 of them around Lake Mechant last week!!!
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geese
on our property this season we have killed 6 specks. we have a few hundred that we see every mourning, but they stay over the intracoastal. Hunted this mourning, and had the worst hunt of the season. 3 of us killed 9 ringnecks. Had a hard time getting to blind, water is extremly low.
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les ducks
we used to have alot of willow trees in our marsh being that our marsh was mostly fresh water. i remmber when i was a kid when they installed all the floom pipes to control water levels in the marsh. 3 years after that all willow trees started dying, feed started dying, ducks started to slow down. this was 15 yrs before rita and katrina. I would imagine there are many things that contribute to the decline in ducks. People, boats, pressure, man made changes of land, and climate. I think they all contribute and they are all happening at the same time.

I remember our ponds being filled with some kind of bean plants that grew wild( looked like a string bean) we literally had to knock some down to put decoys out.

The ducks would pour into that suff.
That plant hasnt grown in this marsh in 10 years.

Again i agree with everyone, all these things play a role in the decline.

But all in all its still fun as hell
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I love it
I hunt every day. I have a great deer lease also, but I haven't been there one time this season. Im gonna go for muzzleloader season and shoot a doe for some meat, other than that I love the ducks!
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...
I like when the water is low. Ducks get as predictable as they are ever going to be when there is no water. Give me super low water and a good wind and I will give you 18 greys.... I start my vacation tomorrow, hope to have a good close to the season.... Good luck to all.
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