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Request for Comment on Proposed Duck Season Dates

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The LWF Commission proposed duck season dates at yesterday's meeting and we'd like to get public comments. The press release can be found at: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/news/34293

West Zone: Nov. 12 - Dec. 4, and Dec. 17 - Jan. 22 with the Youth Hunt Dec. 10-11.
East Zone: Nov. 19 - Nov. 27, and Dec. 10 - Jan. 29 with the Youth Hunt Dec. 3-4.

Changes from last year are:
1) Moved the Youth Hunts from the weekend before the opening day to the weekend in the split for both zones.
2) Changed dates (moved the split) in the East Zone so that there are more hunt days in December and fewer in November.
3) The staggered zone dates allow 7 extra days of hunting for hunters who use both zones.

I would like to get as much public feedback as possible whether you like or dislike the changes in season date or the placement of the Youth Hunt. So I'm asking for your feedback and for you to forward this request to your hunting acquaintances for their comments.

All comments can be sent to me, and I will compile them into a report to the Commission prior to the August 4 meeting when waterfowl season dates will be set.

Thanks very much,

Larry A. Reynolds
Waterfowl Study Leader
Wildlife Division, LDWF
2000 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Lreynolds@wlf.la.gov
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So in other words larry if you hunt the west and east zone essentially you'll be able to hunt 74 days instead of 67 days? Also i heard next year they are thinking about making 3 zones- a coastal, west, and east zone. How would that affect our length of hunting time? Thanks
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   Lreynolds
You are correct about 74 days with the proposed season dates instead of 67 with last-year's dates if you hunt both zones.

With a 3-zone structure we would likely have additional days depending upon the season dates in each zone. However, we are looking at revising portions of the old East/West Zone boundary that will put similar habitats together where today they are in the different zones. That might influence the number of hunters using multiple zones.

For example, if we switch the boundary between the current East and West zones from Highway 90 to I-12, almost all of the coastal marsh in the New Orleans area will be in the same zone. Similarly, if we straighten the boundary in NW Louisiana from Jonesboro to the Arkansas line via Highway 167, then all the habitat around Shreveport will be in the same zone.

Understand that according to our 2010 Waterfowl Hunter Survey, only 13% of hunters from the random-sample mail-out survey hunted in both zones, and only 24% of those who responded to the internet survey. So our priority in designing a zone/split/season date structure is not to maximize hunting days statewide, but to provide the most satisfactory hunting seasons in each individual zone because the overwhelming majority of our hunters use only 1 zone.
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Do you have any idea where the line will be drawn for the coastal zone? Is the I 12 a good estimate? Seems to me like the coastal line is good on hwy 90 area?
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having been part of the youth hunts for the past 15 years I am curious as to why the hunt was moved to the weekend following the end of the first split. Only a few days after the birds have been pounded and pounded and pounded. The youth hunt used to be two weeks after the close of the 2nd split which gave them time to settle down. But was moved to the week before the opener so youth could shoot at birds that had come down and never been shot at in La. We have had no problem shooting birds on the youth hunt even in the past few years. and i only hunt public land for the youth hunts to.

In my view the ducks will only have a few days of not being shot at before the youth hunt now. Why in the world are we changing it to the weekend after the 1st split.
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   PocketLab
Larry, I appreciate all of your efforts to get the duck hunters opinions on the impending changes. It is something we all talk about, 'I would do this or that.' You have made every effort to get a grass roots opinion.

Also, for what it's worth, under the available Federal guidelines, I think you have proposed the best scenario.
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Yeah this is the best possible way the season could be set up especially if you hunt both zones. That is alot of hunting. We live in laplace so we are able to take advantage of wma's both zones such as manchac point aux chene biloxi salvador big branch etc.
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I really like this format, great job Larry.
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I really like this format, great job Larry.
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love it
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I have the same comment about the youth season. I thought the point of the split was to give the ducks a break. I think this will add to the total pressure. Just a thought and agree that youth hunters are our future, but I wish the day would not be between the splits.

Ben
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   abnranger
Have to agree. The old format with the weekend prior to the season worked best. We've been very successful with plenty of birds and limits for the kids the last two years.

Is there a reason why the proposed dates have moved for the weekend between the splits?
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I think the changed Youth dates benefit the adult more than the youth. I liked the old format where the young-ins get first crack at the birds.

Thanks for posting this up for us to have a comment.
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I believe the youth hunt should not be between splits because the ducks are already decoy and call shy, keep it ahead of the first split. Actually there ought to be a youth weekend for the Sept teal split also. If we go the Saturday morning and the see all kinds of ducks, they will naturally want to go the next morning. If we go the Saturday morning and nothing is produced, you can bet a kid is not going to want to get up early the next morning for nothing. I have a 5 & 7 year old and 95% of their shots are going to be on the water, putting the youth weekend between splits leaves them with little chance for making kill shots. Being older I understand it's not all about the kill, but when you are young it is. Temperatures are also an issue when young kids are involved.
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I also strongly believe that the youth hunt should be kept before the opening of the first split.

Some of my most memorable duck hunts were from the youth season--and I don't have any kids!

I used to take a neighbood kid who's father didn't hunt along with a friend of mine's son when his dad had to work. They are both young adults now and both continue to hunt. One now has a son of his own and hopefully will pass along his love of hunting to his own son.

The youth season before the first split usually has milder weather and less gun-shy birds. It really gives the kids an opportunity for better, more enjoyable and successful hunt. Isn't the whole purpose of the youth hunt to get/continue to keep these kids interested in hunting?? You can't do that if they're freezing their butts off with few chances at taking a duck.

I've heard a few selfish adults complain about the kids getting first crack at the ducks. I guess they forgot they were a kid once.

I strongly request that no changes be made to the youth hunt.
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   z7hunter
I cant speak for everyone in the west zone, but I have made some of my best hunts during the youth hunt when i was younger and up until last year I took my little brother on some great hunts in St. Bernard Parish. The last few years the youth hunts and first splits have been much better in my opinion, and the second splits have been not only hard hunting but harsh weather as well and I just think it will be better for the kids to keep it where it is.
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   bayoubob
A few comments:

1. Hunters on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain will likely have a more difficult time with the East Zone proposed dates unless the Hwy 90 boundary is redrawn to Interstate 12, which would include this area in the West Zone. This area is very tidal, and removing November days and adding December days may result in fewer huntable days. Is the LDWF considering redrawing the East/West boundary this year?

2. Youth hunts should stay as is currently.
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Bayoubob, I agree with your comments regarding Northshore Lake Pontchartrain and Maurepas area hunters. Ultimately these areas should belong to, and be managed like, the west zone/coastal areas. This is in the works, however it cannot be done this year but looks promising for next season 2012-2013. That said, should the east zone date changes occur this year it will indeed prove problematic for coastal east zone hunters who benefit from early-arriving birds since only there will only be 1 week to hunt in November before sitting out for two weeks straight.

I'd really like to see the date changes delayed until next season when the zones are altered thus allowing LDWF to make changes which will benefit all hunters and not just a particular group which are pushing for the proposed changes to the dates.

Similarly, coastal marsh youth hunters benefit from the early arriving birds getting a crack at them on the front end of the season. I think most would prefer to keep it that way.
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The dates selected are in the best interest of the large majority of east zone hunters.

For this reason I am in full agreement with the proposal as shown.

I applaud the effort of those that have shown support for these changes.
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   Proud Pop
I also feel that the Youth Hunt weekend before the season is the best option. If it is moved to the split, it will become just another weekend to the youth hunters. I think the youth hunters appreciate the special chance to hunt before the older hunters. If moved to the split, a lot of the youths hunters will have already gotten in a hunt or two and that weekend will be less meaningful to them. The adults I know not only enjoy the opportunity to take a youth hunting, but look forward to the youth weekend to do some scouting and blind touch-ups at the same time. If it is moved, I feel it will lose all of its significance.
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I for one love the zone set up. Give us a EAST AND WEST ZONE HUNTING NONE STOP.I also believe that the youth hunt should be keep before the first split. I also am for a stop hunting at 12pm every day. I belive this would take pressure off our ducks and make our duck hunting number higher.
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I have two kids and I believe the that the majority of the duck hunters out there would tell you that it is kind of agravating to go the out the weekend before the opener to see whats going on and find people hunting where you plan to go ( public land) the next weekend. This ruins the excitment for the people who live to hunt ducks. Besides why can't the youth hunt during the reagular season with every one else. Is there some type of disadvantage that I am unaware of. Maybe the people who take there children out for youth weekend don't want there kids to get in the way of their oppening weekend.
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I agree with the yout hunt during the split. That was a good decision.
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Honestly i like the zones because it gives me an extra week to hunt. This year the way the zones are set if they approve it will give two extra weeks which is awesome. If you hunt both zones you have 74 days of hunting ducks and this is alot of days.
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   duckillr
It makes it a lot more fun for the kids, and they have a better chance at shooting birds. The whole point of a youth season is to get kids interested in hunting. Putting them in a position where it is more dificult to kill birds will not help that cause. Kids are at a disadvantage. They do not shoot as well as seasond hunters and should be given a special season to keep them interested. Keeping it at the begining of the season is the best option.

As for the rest of the changes, I like them.
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I really do feel that youth should be given every advantage, and giving them first shot at the ducks is a great tool to accomplish this. The youth season should be the weekend before the opener.
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   hunt r
We love to hostyouth hunts, however i begin to wonder if we're really doing them any favors. When i was a boy, u got to hunt when u proved u could keep up, handle the cold, and safely shoot a gun. When my cousins grew up they let their 5-6 yr. olds shoot deer out the truck window. Now they hardly hunt. I do think we need to encourage them in every way, they're the future. But by giving them special seasons and special rules, are we not buying into that same old special priveledge mentality? I can say all the yutes we've hunted with so far showed no signs of this, only enthusiasm and very safe, but i do worry about this some. Just a thought.
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   noose374
I hunt mostly in Slidell, which is currently in the East Zone with a later start and a later end date. Most of our huntable days have been in November and December. This is also the time that we have ducks, the teal and gray ducks seem to show up no matter the weather is like, but they leave when the big fronts come through. Being included in the West Zone or in the Coastal Zone would benefit me as a hunter and allow me to hunt more days.
Living in the East Zone and being close to the West Zone, I do hunt both zones. I like the new proposed overlapping splits. This will give us more early hunting days, when the water and the birds are still there.
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   Cajunsim
I have no issues with the season dates. As for the youth hunt dates, I am at a point in hunting that I take them when ever there is an opportunity and let them shoot. I get a kick out of watching them shoot/react to ducks more than my shooting/killing. Take em during teal season, take em during regular season, take em during conservation season-point is take em and teach em. It's the memories that they will remember-don't forget pictures. Safe hunting-sept 10 is around the corner.
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I dont agree at all with having the youth hunt after the first split. Why would they even consider that doesnt make any sense at all? Definitely like the extra week of hunting we will get though. Hopefully they have some birds this year.
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The thought process behind the change of youth hunt dates is based on available habitat and ducks in agricultural areas...in some instances farmers are not done harvesting just yet and have not had time to flood leased property...

Food for thought...I'm ok either way..
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   Lreynolds
I appreciate everyone that has commented on this thread. I have captured those comments in my summary for the Commission prior to their August 4th meeting when the final proposed waterfowl hunting regulations will be established.

We will have more discussions over this coming year related to adding a 3rd zone in Louisiana and changing some of the zone boundaries, including combining the coastal marshes around Lake Pontchartrain into the 'coastal zone' for the 2012 season. We still have lots of questions, and realize there is no way to satisfy everyone. There will be some targeted mail-out hunter-opinion surveys, and some public meetings before decisions to make those and other proposed changes can be made.

Thanks for participating.

Larry Reynolds
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   gunrunner
SHORT OF A COMPUTATION ERROR, IT APPEARS THE TOTAL NUMBER OF DAYS IN THE EAST ZONE IS 56. I RECALL THERE WERE 60 DAYS LAST YEAR. WITH AN INCREASE IN THE DUCK HATCH COUNT, WHY ARE WE BEING SHORTED?
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   tunafish
leave it alone
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