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Manchac 'Prairie' a Limited Access Area

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One day last week after a hunt while at the checkin station, one of the agents told me that the 'Prairie' is being considered for a Limited Access Area next year. If this is true, sometime this year there will be a public meeting at the Hammond office where hunters can voice their opinion. I will be there. I started hunting this area when it was first opened and when everyone then used a pirogue to hunt the area. The first few years the hunting was phenomenal until the word got out and it started to get more attention. We still managed to scratch out limits of big ducks not even shooting the teal. But eventually the crowded situation slowly effected the hunting experience. Soon after I began to see the go-devil engines I had heard about and just getting down the trennese safetly was a challenge. We still had some great hunts even with the increased competion from the duckboats. Nowadays I can count on one hand the number of pirogues that I have seen out there. Most hunters use a air cooled engine of some type to access the 'Prairie'. Six years ago my doctor diagnosed me with 'decrepitude' that was causing all my aches and pains. {Just getting old}. I decided not to stop duck hunting and to buy a go-devil rig to help keep me hunting. I figured with over forty years of hunting with a pirogue, I deserved something more comfortable. Shooting a limit on every hunt is not a issue any more. Most of my hunts on Manchac start very early and end around 1 PM, so I get to see and hear everything that goes on out there. On the days when I am the first out there I can usually hear the ducks sitting on the pond calling to each other, lately most grayducks and widgeons. Then when all the other boats start to come in the birds leave and I believe head to the lakes for the day. Now did the boat engines run all the birds out? Maybe. If the same number of hunters were forced to paddle in, I believe the birds would leave then or when the shooting started anyway. Like I said the number of people using the area has increased significantly, to the point that a pleasant hunting experience is just about impossible on the 'Prairie'. During my discussion with the agent I expressed my opinion that the 'Prairie' could be on a lottery system to control the number of hunters utilizing the area and to increase the quality of the hunts for all. But in the real world and with reduced state budgets the department could not manager such a move. The bottom line is that most of the public areas are heavily hunted and some of those indivduals that are there do not practice hunter etiquette. I see many young guys getting into duck hunting who probably did not have a good role model to help. I still have my pirogue so whatever is decided for the Manchac area I can adjust my hunting to fit. If the 'Prairie' is designated a LAA, I expect some of the guys hunting there will move to another area. Either way most duck hunters just want to have a safe and pleasant hunt with a few birds for the pot and lasting memories. Good luck and be carefull.
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?
What is the exact definition of 'limited assess'??
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manchac
I hope they dont make it pirogue only there are already enough places that you can do that in such as big branch.
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manchac
yea i heard the same thing and i also heard joyce is suppose to be in the discussion to...i personally hope they do it..it will get rid of alot of the idiots and lazy hunters and there might be a few more birds in there
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manchac
Thats when manchac was good back in the day before the go devils but its just so nice to be able to pull up and hunt out of a boat.
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Public areas
Public areas are really getting hit hard. The surface drive engine has really increased the pressure because more people can get to places they could not get before. This is neither good or bad its just the facts. After having a number of bad experiences I have chosen to do my own duck hunting on private property out of state. I must say the trips are longer and more expensive but the hunting experience is better. In addition to hunter safety courses there should be also hunter courtessy courses. But that being said people should get a license to have kids and vote, but I don't see that happening either. Good luck and God bless.
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'Limited Access'
Simple Peddler Limited access means no combustion engines allowed in whatever area designated by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. That would mean a pirogue and a paddle/pushpole would be the logical method to access the area. That's the way it used to be many years ago. I'm not saying I totally agree with this unless the number of hunters somehow reduces. Long ago when pirogues were the only craft used, some guys would paddle around and shoot coots. This would sometimes cause some issues with the hunters in blinds when they got too close. Since you cannot legally use a motor to shoot ducks/coots and the coots are not out there like they used to be it is not a problem now.
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Amazing?
It's amazing that people keep blaming surface drives. Honestly, I can get to more areas with a long tail than a surface drive, but it's the speed of a surface drive that I like over the long tail especially for long runs. It's not the surface drives that ruined Manchac. Manchac started going down hill well before the surface drive was on the market. I started hunting Manchac in the mid 70's and made my last hunt out there in early 90's way before SURFACE DRIVES were on the market. The pressure back then in the early 90's bad enough for me to stop hunting there.

Just how many people can hunt in The Prairie? It should be limited some how. And most people who hunt Manchac are too lazy to hunt elsewhere besides the prairie. Some of my best hunting was hunting pot holes away from the prairie. You had to work harder to get to these spots, but it paid off with quality ducks and GREEN.

Most public areas are over hunted unless they are difficult to get too (i.e. Biloxi WMA & Pass a Loutre). Big Branch is over hunted and they don't allow surface drives or long tails. If they did, I'm sure it would be worst, but the problem is not the surface drives. The problem is more and more people are hunting public land now days. Maybe it's b/c leases cost so much or just that the fact there are more duck hunters now than in the past.

Some WMAs already have limited access areas where you can't take air cooled engines. Doesn't Salvador WMA have limited access in the Davis Pond area now? It's not a bad idea. Some WMAs have horse power restrictions. Not a bad idea either. Some refuges have limited days you can hunt. I really like this b/c it gives the birds days to rest. The bottom line is more and more people are hunting public land these days and if they don't figure out a way to reduce the pressure, these areas will all continue to go down hill. Personally I like the lottery system, but with this economy that will not happen as it costs money and labor to run a lottery. Happy Hunting!
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limited access area
Look at salvador wma they did it and they did great on the LAA in the first split...now they average 0 to 1 duck per hunting in the tank ponds...it didnt even help...we always killed ducks in there in the first split with our go devils and then they go make the LAA patting themself on the back when it looks to be working in the first split then the second split is a bust completely..they killing more ducks in the diversion wheere go devils run like mad look at the waterfowl surveys....the tank ponds never have ducks in the secondsplit pirogue or not its a first split thing and when the feed is gone from the coots thats a wrap...LAA should be done a way with.
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I am all for a Lottery
I hunted Manachac in the 90's when I was one of the few guys with a go-devil. Had some of the best hunts. I have killed Mallards, Grays, BW and GW Teal, Pins, Wigs, Canvassbacks, Buffleheads, Dogs, Ringnecks, Snows, that is all I remember. Once everyone got Go-devils it got over crowded. I can remember going out on opening day of Teals season and not being able to find a open area to hunt.

I have been the first guy in the pond and before the sun came up there were FOUR __________ on top of me. We would have to shot SWING PASSED SOME __________ SO I WOULD NOT PEPPER THEM SHOT THEN SWING AGAIN PASSED ANOTHER ________. I am not making this up. I went out on CHRISTMAS morning and they had 6 boats hunting. That is when I draw the line and gave up.

Sorry for the rant. I would love to see a Lottery type of system.
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manchac prairie
Give me a break six boats????????? Oh no whatever shall we do? How will we kill ducks with 6 boats in a several hundred acre pond lol...that is really funny bud.
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I'm in
I would be for it.
I started hunting in 86 when we had 30 days and 3 birds.
I remember only pirogues on the place we leased then.

I actually like the purist side of push poling.
I now hunt the Delta Wildlife refuge and the pirogue limits the number of hunters.

I think with the surface drive came the 'image' hunter.
Kinda of like the bass fishing tournaments now. It's more how 'I look' then how I can catch fish.

Lot's of guys think they are duck hunters because they have a surface drive/go devil and a new 'B' type gun.

Just my opinion.
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duckhunter7777
DUCKHUNTER....must you always be a smartass? Opinions are just being stated here along with personal experiences. I dont think he was soliciting for comments from the peanut gallery. Although your opinion is respected, it is hardly credible with comments like that. In any event, good luck the rest of the season.
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ducks
No matter what pirogue only or go devil if they dont limit the NUMBER of hunters it wont matter. Id rather see them limit the hunting to a few days a week rather than outlaw mudboats..also do not allow scouting before the season or any mudboats in manchac after 2pm..the only time a boat should be in there is hunting and for no other reason. And if they do have a meeting i will definitely print the waterfowl surveys from this year and show them how horrible the LAA are doing its a fact its not helping at all. On salvador they avg 3 birds a hunter in go devil areas and less than 1 in the LAA so do the math its just the amount of ppl hunting thats hurting.
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Hunter Numbers the Problem
Everyone has an opinion and so far all of you have a valid point on this issue. But I'm sure everyone who hunts any of the public areas around the Northshore/New Orleans/Slidell will agree the number of hunters and the hunting pressure is the number one reason the quality of duck hunting has diminished for those areas. We all realize that the number of birds coming down to south LA. has reduced for whatever reason. I don't care what anybody says but the good ole days are gone forever. I wish all the younger hunters could have seen the ducks we saw in the 60's and 70's. Those were the days. The bottom line is that I don't care if you restrict surface drive, long tails or outboard motors if the same number of hunters get out there by paddling, walking, crawling or skipping, then the same amount of hunting pressure will result. Coot, I agree that the surface drives are not the problem if used with some common sense. I love mine because it will get me where I want to go. But I'm not running it through the marsh laughing and screaming like some I have seen while others are trying to hunt. whbonney26 you are right, some guys think they are duck hunters because they have a surface drive rig, a new four wheel drive truck and the 'B' gun is a must. I have to laugh because I do not have a accurate count of the number of ducks I killed with the Rem. 870{now shoot a auto Rem] but I'm sure it would raise some eyebrows. Guys, this LAA craze may be coming to your favorite public area next.
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ducks
I have a auto remington too and im 30 years old just got it 3 years ago..Have shot many ducks with my 870 probably who knows how many but ALOT and doves by the hundred every year..soo i mean im old school too i just dont think doing a way with go devils is the answer...just need to limit the days of hunting period
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Duckhunter7777
I am sorry my writing skills are not that good. I was trying to emphasize the hunting pressure that has increased 3 fold. If I was leasing the pond in the prairie, I would not want more than 4 or 5 blinds hunted on any giving day to be able to hold birds. So on Christmas morning to have 6 boats seem like a lot for Christmas.

I started hunting in the first year of the 3 duck limit. I believe it was 87. So whether I am a good hunter or not I have a lot of experience. PRESSURE IS THE #1 PROBLEM IN MY OPINION.
The first lease I was in you could watch the birds zig zag out of shooting range of the blinds. Where I am hunting now we used to be the only guys that would cross Lake Leary to hunt and we had great hunts. Now I have 5 blinds on top of me and we have been struggling.
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ducks
Yea so much pressure on the birds but that is public land you really cant expect to have the 'optimal' hunting experience every time...for that you need a lease and like you said even then its still hard to do. Im actually looking into a lease around lake leary next year maybe.. i think also public land should be limited to hunting tues thurs and saturdays...3days a week and thats it and no mud boats allowed unless hunting. But you take a place like the praire its so small i mean to draw birds to you need to hunt a weekday and even then its not easy. I dont know how so many ppl started duck hunting lol its ridiculous everyone does now.
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pressure
I think everyone can agree pressure is the problem. The thing is, pressure comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. Mud boats, numbers of hunters, days hunted, feed, traffic, weather etc... No one wants thier duck hunting limited, or being told they cant hunt. So Im not in total agreeance with Lottery systems though its not all bad(i work shift work I know I dont want to be told i cant hunt when i get a day off to do so b/c i didnt draw a number.).
I do like the LAA ideas though. I think it helps to eleminate the lazy from the dedicated, now if they could just cure stupid it would be great.

To me the best feasable solution is to put everyone in public hunting on the same playing field. thats one reason I like hunting in BB. I cant afford a nice fancy duck boat w/a mudmotor,or a lease, so BB puts me on a level field with everyone else and the harder I work the more birds I kill, and I kill my fair share,the ones who dont work dont kill. It helps weed out people.

Now duckhunter777 you can show ppl all the surveys you want but there are too many variable to show the LAA failed based on a single season. How many hunters per acre? Wind? water levels? Temps? Bad shots? etc..(statistics are easily misrepresented to show what ppl want them to).and you complain about losing ur mud boat fast, how many times did you hunt BB? once? Twice? Can you realy expect to do well in a area b/c you went there a just a few times? Thats the problem, no one wants to work or put in the time.

One thing affecting public hunting pressure is poorly educated and unethical hunters. That is my single biggest issue with public hunting. There is a post on these forums about BB and all the thing I see there that is detrimental to hunting the area. People hunting on illegal days, illegal times, shooting over thier limits, wounding birds and not retrieving them, and shooting consistantly 1/2 hour before legal shooting time. All that falls on needing more agents in the field but, if half the hunters out there follow the rules, and half dont then it ruins the whole area for everyone. So I reiterate that the solution is to put everyone on an equal playing field when on public hunting areas, it weeds out the people who dont care and leaves you with the cream of the crop who do it b/c they truly love it no matter what. I dont have all the answers but i do know that boats, and guns dont ruin hunting but stupid people will do it everytime. So eleminate the variables you can and deal with ones you cant and then its the same for everyone.
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manchac
There is no need to make every wma a limited access area. There are plenty enough already if that is your thing. If i have to though ill be out there in a pirogue with everyone else..also i dont have a fancy duck boat just a flat with a longtail bout simple as they come im just sayin thats a lot of extra work for a couple ducks to paddle out there.
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Barnes
Barnes i think you hit the nail on the head with that comment
Duckhunter obviously knows everything there is to know about duck hunting he has killed 120 birds this year....id be smart to listen to the man
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ducks
I am a very good duck hunter...not just tryin to brag..i spend alot of time scouting..ive made almost 30 hunts between teal and duck season and have NEVER got skunked on one of them and all on public land too. Also im a great shot ive killed a limit of ducks when ive only seen 10 all morning. I'll have well over 150 ducks by the time the season is up and thats not a bad season
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point
duckhunter keep posting b/c your just proving the point I was trying to make. You say your duck boat is simple. Well thats part of the problem, simple=easy and easy means anyone can do it and in the case of mud motors that can be dagerous and hazardous for hunting.
You also said 'it seams like alot of extra work for a couple ducks' well thats my point too. you hunted BB once and killed 3 birds, 1-2 were merganzers i believe and you havnt gone back. (by the way if you were killing merganzers in BB you were probly hunting in the wrong place b/c you didnt paddle far enough) I think that is great b/c if your not willing to put in the work you dont deserve the reward. I enjoy the work, its all part of THE HUNT, part of THE CHALLENGE!. even if I only kill one or two its all still worth it to me. And not alowing boats there puts me on a level field where I can out work the stupid people and still be successful.
Im glad your such a world renouned duck hunter and shot. 30 hunts and 120 ducks is great i congradulate you. Just so you know, I dont get to hunt as many days as you and its only my second seasons duckhunting but I never skunk eihter, Ive shot at least 3 birds every hunt this year all in BB and several limits and couple geese. So save your bragging please it is not impressive to me.
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Agreed
I have to agree, I like the challenge as much as the shooting part. I just moved down here from PA, 99% of my hunting consisted of Ruffed Grouse hunting with my German Shorthair. That requires a whole lot of walking. Since I don't have a boat, I've translated the walking part into duck hunting in the south. The few people I've taken with me all think I'm crazy for walking as far as I do, for just a few ducks. But it sure is nice to get away from everyone else, and I really don't care if I shoot a duck or not, just like getting out there and working for the few I get. That being said, if anyone wants to take me to one of those awesome rice field leases I've heard about, or wax lake, I'm all in!!
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Prairie
The good ole Prairie..
Been there , done that.

Raced for the middle blind at 3am just to find someone there already...

Set up on the Lakeshore blind with 200 dekes and waxed the birds.

Hunted it everyday for 5 seasons and totally slaughtered the birds, would go in early, set up and wait until 0830 -0900 for the big ducks to pile in.

Dont need that hassle anymore.

I have always said leave the boats at the shack and paddle in, but only let 5 blinds hunt max... on limited days... if the boat hunters dont like it, go to Wax lake or Venice.
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All Valid Points
Please everyone don't get feathers ruffled and start attacking others for there opinion. Everyone so far has made some valid points and as fellow duck hunters we should respect others opinions. I just wanted to communicate what I was told be the agent to make everyone aware that a meeting may be in the future this year to discuss a possible LAA. If it has to be a LAA, then I will adapt and return to my pirogue to hunt. I accually would feel less pressured because it would not be a race to the death like some mornings. I would prefer to use a lottory and not a LAA for the 'Prairie'. I still feel that if the number of hunters doesn't reduce because of a LAA then a lottory should be put in place to have some control. Either way everyone cannot be appeased but if nothing is done the situation will only get worse. It's a shame because that area has alot of hunting history and has produced many good hunts and memories for many of us. I started both of my boys out there well before the go-devils arrived. Quality hunting could be a reality again once again if some positive action is taken. But whatever happens for any new rules to work the department will need to put some agents in the field like in the ole days. I don't hunt out there on weekends so I don't know if agents are at the shack in the field but I haven't seen anyone there in over three regular duck seasons. When I get a date for the meeting concerning a possible LAA, I will post it for anyone interested. I ask everyone else to do the same. Now, good luck to everyone for the remaining season and make some lasting memories especially with the younguns because they are the future duck hunters.
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ducks
Well said MEV.
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manchac
I was hunting the prairie before it was a WMA. Lots of ducks were there . I was also hunting other areas with the permission of the lease holder north of manchac and west of I55 using an airboat --again lots of ducks. In the mid 1980's the hunting both places dropped off badly . There was no salvinia up there west of I55 then so that wasnt it. Something changed in the swamp OR changed agricultural practices and hunt club practices in Mississippi and Arkansas changed and kept a lot of ducks up there . A lot has changed since I started hunting( age 3 ) in 1955 . Duck hunting got better and worse it cycled up and down. The marshes have changed, the swamps have changed . We started getting a few deer in the woods in the late 60's and turkeys came back from near extiction . HOWEVER I dont know what happened to the mancac swamp that keeps the number of ducks less than it was .If anyone has an idea or knows a biologist to ask please do so and report it .
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ducks
Man i wish i could have seeen it in the 1970s. Even the maurepas swamp they said had so many mallards you couldnt hear yourself talk. That sure doesnt happen anymore..Yall right it cant be the salvania in the manchac area but maybe the saltwater has deteriorated the habitat alot.
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my take
i don't think its the salvania in maurepaus. i spend a ton of time in those swamps and much of it is not choked with salvania. Alot is but it could still hold ducks. i think the lack of incoming freshwater has basically killed those swamps, as a result the ducks are gone...

Manchac is overpressured for sure. I don't know whether it would help or not...

But i do hope they make Joyce limited access.. That would be great!
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Maurepaus
Off topic.... I do think the salvania is the major problem there. I use to hunt the Reserve Canal area and Garyville in the 80's and we would hammer the green. Never seen so many mallards before. There were even mallard roosts where the birds came in like woodies at dark. This is where Phil Robertson (Duck Commander)filmed his first videos and use to hunt with Warren Coco. Talk to either one of these guys about what happen to that swamp and they will tell you the Salvania is the major problem. Sure there are other factors, but I don't recall seeing one piece of salvania or hyacinth in that swamp in the 80's. It was all duck weed. There aren't too many tracts of flooded timber like that anywhere in the south anymore close to a coastal marsh that is not choked up with salvania. The ducks use to leave the timber at daylight to go feed elsewhere (in the marsh I assume) and then trickle back into the timber during mid morning on.
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possible
im sure it could contribute to the problem. but alot of that swamp is not choked. the swamp is basically dead though, the ground is just rotting away and there is no incoming nutrients to replenish it. IMO if it was the salvania the areas that don't have it would hold ducks. I almost never see a mallard in there, and i spend 3 days a week back there. I think that lack of incoming nutrients prevents the duckweed from growing... Just like with the deer, used to be absolutley full of them but now the land can't support the large population cause its dying...Either way, its the same issue, lack of feed now has those swamps empty. Honestly its pretty sad when i look at pics of how it looked 40 years ago vs how it looks now... Its just dead...
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It's all dying
The swamp and marshes are dying in front of our eyes. Every time I go out I get disgusted because I can see the difference of areas in the marshes that are turning into open water areas due to erosion and the cypress swamps that are dying due to salt water intrusion. The salt water is killing the Manchac cypress swamps and the planned diversion for the west end of the lake is needed now. The surrounding swamps around Manchac Lake used to be full of greenheads but not any more. The last time we killed any was in 97 on the R+W lease when I was a member. I quit hunting out there a few years ago. Who knows why the mallards quit coming, probably due to all of the reasons already mentioned by others. One thing for sure, it will never be the same again.
Next week I plan to contact WL&F concerning the dates and places for there commission meetings. I will be interested in the proposed LAA for Manchac and Joyce and also for possible season changes in areas 0ne and Six for deer. Hunting season is almost over again which makes me sad but my wife happy.
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the water
I think its some pollution in the water that changed it up--either man made from run off from ditchs and canals and sewerage and or saltwater which changed the plants--used to be duck weed now either salvinia or nothing --so i have sold my go devil and boat and will hunt beaver ponds /old gravel pits etc up here in the woods rather than fight the swamp( im too old and arthritic anyway)
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manchac
Do you really really think the prairie we would kill that many more GOOD ducks or would it just be a lot more dosgris if they made it pirogue only?
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don't care...
what anyone says. Its not the pirogues nor the go-devil nor the surface drives fault. You guys are argueing over nothing. Its like duckhunter777's first post stated:'killing ducks over Davis Ponds freshwater diversion out of go-devils' thats because there is a steady supply of food and freshwater and nutrients from the diversion that the ducks want/need. The only reason the ducks don't come back is because the food is gone or didn't exist in the first place. Jus my 2 cents!

Good luck to all!
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manchac
I just think manchac is going downhill and nothing you can do about it really i dont think the go devils are hurtin manchac bc the ducks get run up and go in the lake and come right back after a while at the worst case scenario. I hunt out there alot because i live in laplace. Maybe we could try it out a year with pirogues but i really dont think it'll matter.
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manchac area
i think the food plants are gone from pollution or salt watwer intrusion or nutria eating them all out. There was much trapping going on back then because the price of the pelts was high . The ducks were there in the 70's and early 80's .I lived it and hunted it . Im glad I took a few pics .
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go devil
I really really dont think its the go devils. We absolutely smashed the ducks in davis pond a few years and they had so many go devils in there you could hop from one to the other. Look at big branch nwr they dont kill that many ducks in there and its no mud motors allowed. When I say smash the duck in davis pond i mean 6 men = 6 limits = done by 8am. Now it hasnt been like this the last two years but it'll come back. Letumlite is right them ducks come right back after they been run out..they dont stay gone for long.
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