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Harassment of our waterfowl

Over the past 5 years I have seen severe changes in our hunting. While populations of waterfowl have increased thet are here today gone tomorrow. Why is this happening??? It is occurring due to pressure!! What do I mean by pressure??
We have pursued the ducks to the farthest reaches of their habitat. We are going places only a select few have gone before. I remember pushing across water and mud where I left a trail behind me to get to better hunting. Working so hard that I would be down to just a sweatshirt in 30 degree temps due to the amount of body heat I was generating. My hunting partners back then would have nothing to do with this type of hunting. During the later part of the season in the 2nd split when we had very little water many would stay home. It was too hard!
What I learned was we did not pressure the ducks in their sanctuary and they did not leave.
The birds no longer have sanctuaries( places to not be disturbed) to get away from the hunters. They are constantly pressured from human interaction. I have hunted from pirogues since I was 10. I have pushed thro mud to try and get to ducks in the past just like many others on here. I have also in the past said \'those ducks are safe there and no one can bf of these in particular I heard for 10 minutes as it passed by. It at one point had to be 2 miles away from me and was still very noticeable.
Maybe we are past the point of returning to the older ways of hunting? To believe that the noise from these air cooled engines and the ability to get to tidal flats are not scaring the ducks is turning a deaf ear..
I am all for ease of hunting now at age 56 but I am willing to go back to hunting from a pirogue if it is for the betterment of duck hunting. Surface drives should be held to noise standards and an emphasis should be made to reduce the noise levels. Outboards do not produce 1/5 of the noise of air cooled engines. I thoroughly enjoy my duck hunting and have definitely noticed how the noise affects ducks. The areas of open water in Delacroix and Hopedale where no one would venture in an outboard during winter tides no longer exist as a haven for ducks..
So think seriously about reducing noise rather than increasing your horsepower and speed. How fast does one have to go if it is harm full to our sport??
I would love to hear from others on this subject.
We have created more habitat for waterfowl despite all of the toys we have. Did you have a slow opening weekend or something?
I had a very good opening weekend. I have 2 leases and hunted one on each day. You are on the wrong subject! We are talking about noise and disturbance!!
Please explain to me where new habitat was created either here in Louisiana or elsewhere? We are losing habitat in Louisiana. Do you not know this?? The coastal marshes everywhere have receded and internally eroded.
While DU has helped farmers to keep some of their lands open for waterfowl there is now no more land then before. We are not talking about land habitat and the creation of it??? We are talking about why the birds do not stick around longer as they use to.
We had population problems with ducks from time to time over its history but the levels currently are at very good numbers. Yes we know the recent surveys said we are at a low level currently but that will improve. I am talking about the idiots with the souped up exhaust systems and carburetors trying to squeeze out 2 more mphs. They do not realize what they inadvertently do!! I do have a surface drive that I use when I hunt on private land. I do hunt on public land that is not accessible by air cooled engines and they hold more ducks for longer periods than the private lands today. They have hard to reach areas where the birds get a break. That does not exist on private land today unless the owners create a sanctuary.
Please state where the new habitat has been created here in Louisiana???? And also what that had to do with harassment??
You should not assume that I had a poor hunt!! Why do you think there are refuges and why on management areas that are inaccessible by mud motors have limited days of hunting???
It is to give the ducks a break!!!
I agree totally with the harassment you speak of. I witness it every year. The davis pond area of salvador is a perfect example. You can scout it the day before the opener, ducks everywhere. Be the first one in there hear all the ducks. Then the parade starts and you can hear all the ducks leave. PAC this happens as well. Witnessed it this year. PAC still had decent harvest for the opener but still you could hear all the ducks get up and leave when the motors start running. I personally hunt all marsh with my outboard, park it, and pirogue it to my ponds. Aircool motors has made duck hunting too easy and i believe it does hurt the duck hunters n the long run. The ducks themselves just keep searching til they find a safe haven.
I agree with him motorboat. And we had a great opening day. Stuck around to fish afterward and watched a guy run in and out of the surrounding ponds in his surface drive for an hour. He probably left from there and did the same thing elsewhere. People come on here all the time and talk about there results and how many birds they push around while scouting. It's pointless especially with tools such as google maps and gps systems. We found a great area to hunt using google maps. Fished it twice in the summer and picked a spot to set up for different tide and wind directions. Total time spent in the pond while not hunting was about 30 min. I am a firm believer that we pressure the ducks too much.
Not the Mud Motors fault
As a duck hunter and a Mud Motor owner I don't think it is as much the Motors fault as it is the people that are new to duck hunting that don't know the right way go about scouting. I will be the first to tell you that I have a Mud Motor with mods not to go faster but to carry more of a load when going duck hunting. I think the problem lies with the Duck Diansty crowd the people that had no idea what duck hunting was before the show became so popular. Lots of these new people to the sport have never been mentored like most of us were by our fathers,grand fathers,uncles, and friends that have been in the sport of duck hunting for years. In my eyes most of the new crowd are into duck hunting just to say that they do it not for all the reasons most of us are in it. With that said there are lots more people into the sport so more people are out in the fields and public areas than years past. It wouldn't matter if they were hunting in outboards are mud motors if there are more people hunting there are less areas for the ducks to rest, not the Mud Motors fault at all.
Twin SD's
I saw a guy with twin SD's on a Gator Trax on Saturday. That's crazy. Not only are the motors crazy loud, they chew up the SAV and enhance the coastal erosion problem by loosening up all the mud and the tide does the rest. This sport has changed so drastically in the past 10 years its stupid. I still go it the old fashioned way with traditional outboard and pirogue in. Heck, its the only real exercise I get! I would be fat and looking at open heart surgery if I went the SD route!
Where in my post did I say anything about Louisiana? You come on here and complain about loud motors but yet you still had a great opening weekend.
mud motors
any one remember, the year of 2 duck and the year of ducks by points. there were no mud motor then, it's more then just mud motors. It late cold fronts, rice fields,du, salt water, no food to eat, that just to name a few.
Reply article

The best hunting was done on limited access land. May be a coincidence, but I feel like the people who do not scout appropriately make it much harder to have a successful hunt. Maybe I and we are spoiled but 5-6 ducks is successful, not 1-3..
It was understood that the conversation was about duck hunting in Louisiana. This is louisiana and the coastal zone opened this weekend. If you want your points to be taken seriously you shouldn't act like an idiot.
I see your point. Much of the duck pushing can be done from an outboard as well. And there are other factors such as sky busting, early and late shooting, scouting during the split etc.
agree and disagree
So i have been duck hunting about four years, last year and this I have been very serious about it. I have shot limits 4 out of five hunts this year, 3 in teal and one in first split. Now I have hunted other species for years, but I don't skybust, I actually like to get birds to attempt to land in my spread because it's an awesome feeling to kill birds that were dedicated to your spot. But this weekend was an eye opener for me with hunting boats in general. I saw people at 7am riding the ponds and swamps all over. Saturday we saw birds trying to come in but people were riding everywhere and they left, unreal. I had one greenhead come by I started to work him, he turned about 300 yards out and 200ft high, then boom, so idiot starts shooting. YOu know the rest, the same guy cranks up 2 minutes later literally, and starts blazing threw the pond to some birds that were working the pond. Wow. Screw that go devil or outboard there is no need for that, salvador by the way. Sunday, I paddled in to a spot no wants to go to because it takes 15 minutes of hard paddling, all by myself, 5 birds at 640am, while iwas waiting to see another, at 730 3 mudboats I saw go in to a swamp, all came out and were riding all over for 3 hours, I finally got my last bird, paddle out, these guys are just blowing threw the swamp and ponds doing what I don't know. So my point is, I agree and disagree, its not mudboats that are the problem, its the guys that get these things and are empowered to 'SCOUT' with them and they are able to go places that before only a pirouge could go. But, also the pressure the ducks get from skybusting is another issue. Why would you shoot at a duck 100 ft over you or 75 yards out. These crazy chokes people use must make them belive they can shoot like a 270 rifle or something. I use a Improved cylinder and kill birds out to 50 yards, yesterday I dropped a spoonie at 50 when he was flying out after I shot one of his buddies closer.
Anyway hope this makes sense but it really comes down to immaturity and impatience, if you get bored that easy, then go home don't screw it up for everyone else. And I also want to thank those guys for scaring birds my way too.
Some are missing the point
If the ducks have no where to hide( escape pressure) they will vacate an area regardless of the food source. I am not a sound expert but I have both air cooled and regular outboard motors. There is a considerable decibel increase with the air cooled vs the outboard. I can go anywhere In an inch of water just like a duck. Those of you that believe their mud boats are not capable of going where no man has gone before to hunt are mistaken. I kill more birds on management land with no access by air cooled engines vs my lease in Delacroix . The management area I hunt maintains birds during the entire season and it is due to a lack of pressure ( no mud boats and their operators
I believe that Warren Coco started building his long tail go-devils in 1977. I saw my first duck boat with a go-devil on it in 1983 coming out of the Manchac Prairie while I paddled out. So my point is that they have been around for quite awhile. Now I realize that back then you did not see as many as we do now. Heck, in the early 70's we used motorized pirogues to run from pier 90 then thru the sluice gate on Sellers Canal and into the management area to hunt where the tank pond is now. We killed plenty of ducks even with those air cooled engines running around.
At the present time, duck hunting has been over commercialized and now we see everything available from special duck hunting clothing, to fancy duck guns with 3 1/2 inch chambers, to mojo's and motion decoys & machines, to specialized duck boats with air cooled engines,and duck hunting video's, and on and on....
MONEY drives commercialization and that's what's changing the sport. It is not as we all knew it back in the early 70's. We will never see those days again and you cannot stop the changes duck hunting is going through now. Oh, you might make some rules or regulations to try and help but someone is going to build a better mouse trap to get around it.
Guys, the ducks are hounded from Canada to Mexico and we are almost at the end of that. So why does Mexico have FAR better duck hunting then Louisiana? Because most people in Mexico are too poor and don't hunt so the pressure on the ducks is much lower. Oh sure us Gringo's can go down there to hunt and that does happen a lot, but the number of hunters is still much smaller then in just Louisiana alone. If you want to help the ducks then you will have to reduce the hunting pressure by reducing the number of hunters. If you do that then less money will be available to support the ducks and even our Wildlife and Fisheries Department. I am just trying to make the best of what we all have available for us to enjoy now before it all goes away. Don't try to overthink it all, you will get a bad headache.
I will be out there early tomorrow in my surface drive duck boat watching the sunrise and enjoying the spectacle.
Yes there is much commercialize of the sport but I too think pressure is a real problem. The number of mud boats in the marsh today are many times more than in the past. There is so many people running around in places they could not reach before that the ducks just cant find a sanctuary. I am 52 and have hunted many areas in South Louisiana including some of the WMAs mentioned here. I dont know the solution but there needs to be some changes. I personally think that loud exhaust should not be allowed in the WMAs. It is disturbing the peace.
I agree with the noise of these motors here them all the time. i believe that ducks umlimited thinks that they are helping with the ducks with heating the ponds and what not. but i think that this is changing the flight pattern of these ducks coming down south. thats jsut my opinion
Bay boats,Helicopters,Tug boats,and Pirogues spook ducks!So lets just stop it all.No fishing,flying,transporting goods,or hunting while ducks are down!NOTE- The most noise that I have ever heard was a nut dragging and beating around in a pirogue half the morning trying to get to a spot to!!Done
Forgot one
Oh and I did see a crabber running his traps spooking ducks also!So,No crabbing either.
Spooking ducks
I stopped reading Ponderosa's post when the 'DU heating fields' comment was made haha

You guys need to send these crabbers, outboards, mud motors, airboats, oystermen, etc to BILOXI WMA, they NEED more people to stir up the ducks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Who gives a duck?
2 cents
I have been duck hunting since I was 8yrs old. Back then where we hunted, adjacent to Wax Lake, we had to use Air Boats most all of the time. Remember before any surface drives the way people accessed the 'unaccessable' was by air boat (among other more difficult means). I'm pretty sure they are exponentially louder than any surface drive available today short of backwoods Joe's crazy homebrew project with a small or big block for a motor with large straight exhaust (still really not louder than the an air boat). In those days we were spoiled with limits a lot. A bad hunt was half the limit, which is really not bad at all. There are so many factors that go into duck activity I'm sure a loud boat is not a substantial factor. I would point more towards hunting pressure, which in any type of hunting causes noticeable changes rather quickly. Happy Hunting to all!!!! I cannot start for a couple of weeks (East Zone)!!!!!!!
the weather
i think the most important factor is the weather. the last year the middle of the country had significant snowpack was in 2000. the snow had all of the fod covered in the fields. the duck migration was definitely on that year; especially mallards in louisiana. the polar jet steam has retreated far to the north.
duck season
My opinion is that the season should not be extended really any further than it already is due to pairing up of the ducks at that time of year. On the other hand, I believe they open the coastal zone too early not allowing significant cold fronts to push enough birds into the areas. If this means reducing the season days to 40 days, so be it, but at least it would be better than trying to duck hunt in 70-80 degree weather. Also, the opening structure of these zones is totally ridiculous in my opinion. They are pushing way to many hunters into one zone, and the pressure is ruining opening weekend of the season. Why can't we at least open zones to the north first or open the whole state at the same time? The ducks migrate from north to south yet they want to open the zone furthest to the south first? It makes no sense!
The wax
all im gunna say is this, for those of you that hunted there 10 years ago, look what the masses of people and endless pressure did to the wax. you go there now and your disgusted by what it is not compared to what it used to be.
The season should not be extended. We get very few migrators after December. The only reason you see a lot of ducks after the season closes is because...........wait for it..........wait for it..... THERES NO MORE HUNTING PREASSURE
zone opening structure
I would really like some reliable information on why they open the zones the way they do?
Purpose of Zones
Ducks do not just migrate from north to south. Some species migrate earlier than other species. Some species use different habitats than others. Earlier-migrating species tend to use coastal marshes more than forested wetlands or flooded ag fields, and thus southern coastal marshes receive more ducks earlier in the fall than forested wetlands and ag fields of NE Louisiana.

The initial East and West Zones were implemented in 1975 for the purpose of providing earlier season hunting opportunity for early-migrating pintails, gadwalls, teal, and shovelers in the coastal marshes while providing more late-season opportunity for mallards in the East Zone. Analyses of the species composition of the harvest in Parishes as well as band-recoveries help decide the dividing line between those 2 zones.

In 2011 the USFWS expanded zone regulations, and we had the opportunity to use 3 zones. There is no doubt that the Piney Woods of NW LA is quite different than the coastal marshes. Furthermore, hunters on NW LA reservoirs have been asking for different season dates from the coastal marsh hunters. So we split the old West Zone into a new Coastal Zone and a West Zone. However, hunter-opinion surveys did not show large-scale support for earlier seasons, but later seasons than the coastal zone.

All of this was outlined in great detail at Commission meetings and public meetings associated with hunter-opinion survey efforts in both 2012 and 2013. One important point was that only about 20% of Louisiana duck hunters hunt more than 1 zone. So if 80% of hunters stick to only 1 zone, then the highest priority needs to be setting the season dates most favored by hunters in that zone and harvest data collected from that zone. That is what we have attempted to do.

Like most things, not everybody is happy, especially with season dates. There is constant contention between those that want to hunt earlier (yes earlier) and those that want to hunt later, especially in the West and Coastal Zones. I doubt that will ever end.
Reply to duckhunter_89
Very good post. Why do they open the coastal zone before the northern zonr(east)? Maybe the zones should be north and south?? The east zone will have plenty birds in 2 weeks. Yes, it does not make any sense. Anyone from Wildlife and fisheries care to post a response ???
Thanks Larry
Can you make it colder?? What are the major reasons you see for the fewer birds this year. I have read your posts about a late hatch. Has this happened before and if so when???
We can't think small scale
First, let's be clear about zone dates. We first had zones in 1975 and the West zone (which included the coastal marshes)opened earlier than the East Zone. So were the guys making the decisions in the early-70's being 'ridiculous'? Of course not, and the reasons have not changed. The earlier migrating species tend to use coastal marshes over forested wetlands and ag fields.

Now let's go back to 1964 and the book 'Waterfowl Tomorrow' where a chapter is titled 'Letter to a Hunter' and the topic is hunters complaining that ducks don't migrate into southern states until after the season ends. Really? The biggest problem in 1964 is the same one for hunters today? And yet, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and California ..... the southern states in the 3 most duck-populated Flyways ..... are the 4 highest-kill states. Do you honestly believe the USFWS thinks there is a problem when your highest-kill states are complaining they don't get birds before the season ends?

By February, mallards and pintails are moving back north. Now that we have done a number of studies using satellite telemetry units, we have seen mallards move down the flyway, back up, down again, and up again. We have seen mallards marked in AR the winter before move down the flyway into northern AR, then move back into Iowa and stay for another month. If you believe that migrations are 1-way movements, and that all individuals respond the same, then you are over-simplifying a complex phenomena. The more we learn about ducks and their movements, the more we have to admit that they are using habitat on a FAR larger scale than we interpret. One of the coolest (and disturbing) findings of a radio'd pintail study in the early-90's was that many pintails marked in SW LA moved north to AR after a couple of rainfall events in December. But the important thing was that those birds that went north and stayed north had higher survival than those that either went north and came back or never went north. Think about the selective advantage.

Sorry for being long-winded, but ducks are NOT resident game. whether we like it or not, we have to frame our arguments in the context of a continental resource that is shared and managed at a scale much larger than just our individual state.
Why fewer birds?
If I could reliably determine when and where ducks would be, I would be selling that information to the highest bidder rather than doing what I do. But as your question implies, and you intuitively know already, there is not just 1 reason for variation in fall migration movements.

We have had delayed migrations in the past. Warmer weather, later reproductive efforts, better habitat conditions in migration routes, etc. This year, we have all of those, and I don't know how to partition the effects. There are also, I believe, long-term effects because 7 of the lowest November surveys on record have occurred in the last 10 years, and summaries of January survey data show Louisiana is wintering a smaller % of the MS Flyway mallard and goose populations than 20 years ago. We don't see that same effect for other species. So, we know things are changing; look at the range expansion north and east of black-bellied whistling ducks and white-winged doves.

Does that warrant changes in the duck season dates when the 4 highest duck-kill states are still the southernmost states in at least 3 Flyways? How about when our available state harvest data shows we kill more total ducks and more ducks per hunter in the early season than the late season? Again, I've publicized those data in public meetings and Commission meetings in making decisions about zone boundaries and season dates.
Back to disturbance
This thread started over the perceived higher levels of disturbance of ducks, and there is no doubt that it is a factor affecting hunting success, especially on public land. The issue of surface-drive motors has been discussed extensively for the past few years and a couple things are obvious:

1) they are allowing increased access to ducks on all properties reducing sanctuary, increasing disturbance, increasing habitat damage, and redistributing ducks.

2) many (most?) hunters are willing to trade those negatives for better, easier access to those birds and habitats, especially in habitats infested with invasive aquatics.

Our active waterfowl hunter numbers have also increased from an estimated 50,000 in 2005 to over 103,000 last season. That is the primary reason that the reduction in the limit on mottled ducks from 3 to 1 did NOT result in the expected decrease in harvest and there is concern over further reductions in mottled duck hunting opportunity. Of course that means more hunting pressure. In our hunter-opinion surveys, hunters tell us that WMAs should be managed to reduce hunting pressure, but whenever we try, the resistance is strong ..... just look at the Limited Access Areas on the coastal WMAs. So yes, hunters are concerned about hunting pressure, but 'don't you dare reduce my opportunity or access'.

Just like the issue of changing season dates because of perceived problems in the state that kills way more ducks than any other ..... reducing hunting pressure is a tough sell.
My 2 cents
#1 Feed and/or food source. I've been hunting for 44 yrs and my experience has shown me that noise is not a major problem. Don't give duck intelligence too much credit. If there is food, they will come and come back again and again regardless of noise. I've witnessed Greys being completely stupid for widgeon grass at the PAC, no matter how many surface drives running around.
Even with hunters waiting in line to hunt the spot after other hunters got their limits and left. Ducks all season untill food source ran out.
So much for the pressure arguement too.
#2 Cold weather not as much a factor any more due to the hunters up north with their heated ponds and water moving machines. Water and food, ducks will stay there. I've noticed in recent years that drought conditions up north play a bigger role in moving the birds down here.
Whoa! If Lrenyolds is correct, we have TWICE as many hunter today as we did in 2005! Wow; I have speculated for the past several years that the amount of pressure has escalated, but I had no idea it doubled since 2005. OK, here's what we are dealing with: Twice as many hunters since 2005; greater accessibility (surface drives), hi-tech advantages techniques (MoJo's); more capable hardware (3.5' and 10ga); longest season available (60days); surplus of guide services (hunt everyday of season, some both AM and PM); questionable farm practices/DU projects; unseasonable warm weather; late hatches; habitat destruction = all up against changing/smaller migration. This sport as we know it will self destruct over the next ten years. Its too bad its so dam addictive, because I will ride it as long as I can justify going! I'm near my tipping point on that justification.
Those of you thinking the advent of surface drives have not had a negative impact on ducks need to fess up. It has been stated by many that it does impact the birds negatively.
I own one but I do not hunt out of it. I still pirogue to my spot everyday. I have witnessed what the noise does to resting birds from long distances. Do not believe the bs that noise does not scare the birds. If they would find a way to decrease the noise with better mufflers would help things a little. They are just toooo dam loud. Not counting the fact you are invading their sanctuaries.
If they banned the mud motors it would not upset me. The better WMA's do not allow them . What I mean by better is I KILL MORE DUCKS AND SEE MORE DUCKS!
On a side note, we harrassed a mixed bag of ducks this am. 2 man limit. lost one spoonie.
Thank you Lreynolds for that information. I can see that you know what you are talking about. I feel that as long as duck hunting remains as popular as it is, things will never quite be the same as it was 'back in the day.' I guess we can only make the best of it by........trying to hunt spots that are more difficult to access. I think the key to success these days is to go where the lazy hunter will not venture and try to hunt as many weekdays as possible, if you hunt on public land. No offense to guides, but i refuse to pay someone to take me out to shoot ducks. Good luck to everyone this season.
Larry and gadwall
While I agree duck hunter numbers are way up I would like to see that stat compared to 2003-04 hunter numbers. In the 05 season you had plenty of people with other things on their mind besides duck hunting. A lot of people were still searching for a place to live.
property managment
i would like to see some more land/hunting management from land company's like angler management, Delacroix corp, and beloxi marsh. setting some ground rules that would benefit all hunters in the area. its a shame tat i pay all that money for a lease and stupid people ride around on all the leases scaring up all the ducks. those company's make so much money from hunters its sick. i dont think many hunters would object to morning hunts only and not allowed to ride around on your lease after 3 pm or something like that if it would keep more ducks on the properties. i dont think its a far fetched idea to make the company be responsible for enforcing the rules ether. land management and enforcement is the key for success. what do y'all think? we have got to let the ducks rest!!!
Yep, more hunters
Thanks Larry for the information. I always said that the numbers of ducks hunters was up but I am shocked that it has doubled. I duck hunt on public areas and have been doing that since the late 60's. I have witnessed the number of hunters increase in those public areas to the point now that it has reduced the hunting experience and sometimes is just plain dangerous to hunt. This is why I do not hunt on these public areas on weekends. I believe that it is time to make a real change and limit the number of days for duck hunting in those heavily hunted public areas. Guys, 2 or 3 days a week for the birds to rest up would make a difference. I expressed that to Larry Reynolds at the public meeting in Ponchatoula concerning a possible LAA for Manchac Management Area. I did not support the LAA idea because it doesn't make any difference how the same number of hunters get into a area to hunt. Another option would be controlling the number of hunters that use a public area daily but this I know would be cost prohibitive for LWF. Larry has already expressed that reducing the hunting days would positively reduce the pressure but that most hunters resisted that idea. So what to do?
You know, we are very fortunate to be able to hunt in a state that kill's the most ducks in the country. But we still manage to find some reason to complain and point fingers to justify our rants and ideas. As hunters we should be supportive for each other because there are many other individuals and organizations who oppose hunting and gun ownership and they will surely combined their efforts to end it all for us. Then the ducks will be HAPPY.
I'm going tomorrow. Good luck and safe hunting to all fellow duck hunters.
I hunt in the same areas. Its basically people not knowing a fn thing about duck hunting. RUNNING BIRDS, HUNTING IN THE EVENING all hurt you in the morning. Mud boats need to start having limits.
Season Dates
Please forgive me if this is off topic, and I hope Larry replies. What would prohibit the state from making a decision on season dates later than they do. I'm thinking this might allow them to take into account the effects of the current years migration status. Take this year for instance, if it were observed that we were experiencing a late migration in September, couldn't the decision be made to push the opener back or somehow adjust the season dates to be in line with this particular year's expected and/or observed migration patterns? Obviously no one has a crystal ball, but we have plenty of data available to help determine these type things. I don't know if expected migrations have anything to do with picking season dates.
And, on another note. Do we kill more ducks here because we have more hunters, or do we kill more ducks per hunter? And, just because we do kill the most ducks, doesn't mean people can't help figure ways to continue to harvest large numbers and try to get the wintering populations back to what they have been in the past and could be again in the future. It's a strawman argument to say, 'quit complaining, we kill plenty of ducks allready.'
Source of Hunter Number estimates
The USFWS harvest reports include estimates of active duck hunter numbers. You can find those reports at:

Using 2005 as a base is kind of cheating because of the hurricane's diversion of effort.

Maybe these are more representative:

2003: 65,800
2004: 52,200
Setting Season dates
Nothing prohibits the state from setting seasons whenever they like within the federal framework. The framework is the earliest opening, latest closing, season length, bag limit, number of zones/splits. Within those boundaries, we can set the season however we like.

The federal framework sets a hunting season of not more than 60 days between September 21, 2013, and January 26, 2014 for this season in the MS Flyway. LA can have no more than 3 zones with no more than 1 split. Our goal is to find season dates within those boundaries that satisfy the highest number of hunters, and those season dates can change every single year. The only other wrinkle is that the seasons are set the first week of August, and I get complaints every single year from hunters that have to set their vacations before the season dates are even set.
Louisiana's kill
We kill more ducks than any other state by a large margin ..... over a million more than the next highest state.

We kill more ducks per hunter than any other state except for California (31 to 28 ducks per hunter per season). However, California, as part of the Pacific Flyway, has a 107-day season with a 7-bird daily bag limit. That's what it takes to kill more ducks per hunter than Louisiana.

It is not a strawman argument to compare our harvest to other states; it provides perspective needed to assess alternative actions and responses from the Flyway states and USFWS. Actions that reduce habitat availability, hunting opportunity, or hunting success in states north of us will NOT be favored by other states or the USFWS based on the harvest data. So don't try to convince anyone that LA's kill presents a problem that needs fixing.

Changes in mid-winter numbers showing fewer mallards and geese migrate into this state or changes in November survey data showing ducks arrive in Louisiana later than in the past also come with a 'so what?' Is that a bad thing? Is it negatively affecting the health of waterfowl populations? It certainly is NOT affecting the overall harvest and harvest per hunter. Hell, we just talked about the increase in the number of duck hunters. Hunting is so bad that we have about doubled the number of active hunters??

What is so broke that states to the north of us need to quit providing habitat, change their agricultural base, using ice-eaters and spinning-wing decoys?

I know that none of us wants to hear these things, but they are real considerations in large-scale waterfowl management. When you recognize that our coastal wetland habitat is continually being lost, the much of our habitat is over-run with invasive aquatics, and that our rice agriculture is moving north, we have much to focus on right here in Louisiana.

Nobody is saying all is well ...... clearly, there are changes happening that do NOT favor Louisiana waterfowl hunters long term.
duck hunting
While hunting public land, I can lay witness to the fact that we have more active hunters than we have ever had. However, I think most of us that really care about this sport are nearing a breaking point in participation. That is those of us that can't acquire a duck lease or own hunting land and can only hunt public areas. As long as the hunter numbers and kill rates are up nothing will be done I can probably guarantee. But when do those active participant numbers begin to fall? and there is no getting them back because those guys/girls don't want to go back to the BS they put up with before? Mark my word......these rantings online are only a sign of what's to come if things don't get under control....hunter numbers will fall. I know for a fact i will have to give up hunting pointe aux chene WMA in the next 5-10 years because it won't be worth it. Then where will I go.......wax? salvador? no....or all these other areas in the same boat. hope they take the hint before its too late.
duck hunting
When was the last pairing survey done? yes there r more hunts then b 4 but that is for the first week r so, then u do not see but a hand full of hunts, due to lack of ducks check out the public areas,
I have ben hunting for years and got my son to love it, but my son and I r just about to give it up because the last few years have ben a big drop in duck, it is not worth it with the cost of hunting lease and so on and with no ducks I may just go back to fishing, winter is a grate time to fish any way. but the sad part is that I all ways love duck hunting and so did my son It things do not change duck hunting in LA. will b a thing of the past,and that is sad.

duck hunting
that is correct and you know that the opening weekend should be one of the most enjoyable and better hunts that you'll have during the season. Well they've all but ruined that. Its these things that are frustrating. I'm a die hard duck hunter......not a deer hunter that only makes the opening weekend. My hunting trophy is that rare, mature nicely plumed late season bird and not the overrated buck with a big rack. It will take a lot to kill my passion, but its getting to be more aggravation than fun.
More hunters = Less per Hunter
Thanks for replying Larry. I can see the challenge in waiting to set the season dates. Some people need to plan vacations. However, I'd rather push back planning my vacation for opening weekend later if I felt it gave me a better chance for a good shoot. Just saying...
I looked at the link you provided for harvest data. Interesting stuff there and you could get lost in it. If only I were a statistician. It seems clear that our harvest numbers have been fairly consistent, however we have a ton more hunters now. So you would expect that with more hunters, spending more days afield, you would have more ducks shot overall. We have more and more people competing for a finite resource. Thus everyone has a harder time getting their fill of said resource. Also, with more hunters, leases are harder and more expensive to come by. Supply and Demand! I think that's why it is so important to manage the public lands we have access too effectively. The problem with that is that we don't have near enough wildlife agents available to deal with the problems we have. These guys cover so much territory it is ridiculous. So now what we have is people asking for more rules on WMAs to curtail the problems that have arisen with regard to unethical and inconsiderate hunters. If we had more agents to deal with those types of people, the additional rules and regulations would probably not be necessary and you wouldn't have to punish the people who are doing things the right way already. I know I'm getting off topic again but it all goes together.
I too have noticed
Over the past few years more and more crybabies on the inet.
If u have your own leases then make your own rules on those leases.
U can't stop what goes on in a public reserve just like I can't stop a bunch of cry babies from posting about banning this and that on a public forum.
Yall need to put some tampons in yall be-dons.(shell buckets
for those north of the icw).
While I can appreciate your concerns, not all areas are the same as far as access to hunting areas. Some areas can only be accessed with air cooled engines and they have been accessed that way for many years. I myself are on a private lease that prohibits air boats because of the noise factor, which is a good provision. I do agree that with technology, duck hunting is different than it was even 15-20 years ago. But change has good and bad components. As duck hunters, we have to continue to evolve but always keeping in mind that the pursuit of waterfowl should remain ethical and passionate.
Changing times
First off Thanks Larry for your responses here. Much appreciated.

Now to the issue at hand. Ducks are no different than any other animal. Their behavior is based on just two driving factors. FOOD and REPRODUCTION. There are many other factors that lead to an effect on those two things but that is what it all boils down too. Its why they either are or arnt here. Personally I believe that the birds are not in SE LA like they were b/c of all the storms the last 5-6yrs. It has pushed thier migration more to the west and less south b/c of decreased feed/habitat. This is where I feel DU should be puting thier focus in LA, NOT on the costal west of LA or northern part of state.
Regardless of why, blaming Mudmotors and such is dumb. Its like blaming the gun for sandyhook. Best thing to happen to the PRWMA in 3 seasons IMO was all the GW's writting tickest opening morning. They needed a strong presence there for a long time now.
As someone else pointed out LAA areas, limited days and such are not gonna change the issue that much either. Big branch has all those things some of you are asking for. No Mudmotors, LAA, Limited Days, no entry befor 4am etc.. and it is STILL not a duck mecca. The birds simply are not there. And it is a pristine marsh with ample feed and resources.
The birds will come or they wont. Nothing that can be controled by more regulations. What we need to focus on as hunters is respecing the sport and the animals, educating others, pushing DU/Delta to change thier focus areas and supporting LDWF to have more agents to keep things in check.
Thats my $.02 on it anyhow. Best luck to everyone this year.
Thanks for the previous post no mud motors in big branch and it still sucks because every day it\'s open there\'s pirogues everywhere. Sure mud motors don\'t help but the same amount of millions of hunters goin in pirogues is still gonna scare off birds. All about the number of hunters period. I witnessed ppl running boats and shooting ducks under power in Biloxi marsh. These guys are scum a disgrace to sportsman everywhere.. Pathetic take your 36 hp pro drive and stay away from Biloxi marsh if U gonna do it..another thing if you are reading this post and you all kno who u are I hope the game warden puts y\'all under the jail one day!!!!! I'm talking these idiots almost ran into my parked boat in a tranauss by a pond.. Next time I'm calling operation game thief so I have their number on speed dial now ..
multiple contributes
I'm kinda on the fence about the noise from mud motors and the noise keeping birds away. I do however believe that lack of food and climate in South LA plays a big part in migration. Ducks used to migrate down during the winter months cause of ponds up north freezing over. Wealthy farmers, politicians, business people and other deep pocket sportsman spend big money on entertainment to clients and other parties these days. They now circulate ponds & create ideal habitat for migratory birds migrating down south. They harvest crops later in the year just before the season and flood the fields just weeks before the opener. Why would you drive out of town to eat out on the town with your friends if you have a five star diner in your town? I just think its really some B/S that you could bring water to the feed but not feed to the water?? In my opinion you should be able to bait birds just like you can deer in LA. If this were to happen, whatever the fine is right now for a over the limit possession should be 5x's that amount if your over the bag limit. If it's a 1 year probation then it should jump up to 5 if you are caught over. also in my opinion they open the season too early, it should open in early December and close on February 28th with rabbit season. Again this is just my opinion on the subject. I did however hunt down in Venice on the opening weekend and limited out both hunts. Big ducks were scarce but we managed to get a few. Teal were like misquotes flying around and pouldeau were plentiful also.
Finally some post with 'common sense'
Now I am finally seeing some post from other hunters who are using common sense. They realize that many of the reasons for public land duck hunting problems is caused by changes that we cannot control. Weather changes, erosion issues, agriculture changes north of us, better technology to keep ponds from freezing, big money duck clubs, increased number of duck hunters probably across the nation, etc. are all possible reasons why we don't see as many birds as in the past.
So now we are hearing about the duck boats as a major reason that the birds are not here. Sure they can be louder and if used improperly can have a negative effect when others see them in the field. A few idiots can hurt the situation but I do not feel that all of the other good hunters should have to suffer because of them. If that made sense then the next change could be banning shotguns because one was used in the Washington Navy facility massacre.
I believe that more agents in the field would be a better solution across the board for all of the hunters and the birds. Too much is going on in the field without any personal responsibility. This would help both public and private areas.
Someone posted that better hunting was in areas with more rules. I have not seen this on any of all of the public areas I presently hunt on the north shore from Pearl River to Indian Bayou. ALL of these public areas have the same common denominator that has reduced the duck hunting experience and that is overcrowding. I will back up this fact with other public areas that do have good hunting and do not have these rules that are being discussed. They are Bayou Biloxi Management Area and Pass A Loutre Management Area. The hunting there e is much better because they are very large and have much less hunters then all of the others.
I am tired of the same ole story. Take away from the good because of the bad. That's BS.
I think some people jumped on the noise thing when the noise is a after thought. I think the thread is more about pressure and the fact we have so many people in SD or mud boats now. The fact so many people can go places that have not been in the past at least not in the current numbers.
I don't like the noise but I don't think noise is the issue. Like many have said here there are several issues with food and habitat at the forefront. Pressure is also a major issue with the number of people currently in the marsh and able to get to what was once remote area.
would you motor all around your deer lease??? didn't think so
so lets say you have a deer lease ok. now do you motor all around on your 4 wheeler the day before or of your hunt. well hell no and the same should go for duck hunting. restricting motors from the marsh is just the same as ATV are for the most part not allowed or very restricted on all of our WMA's and national forest, because if they weren't restricted could you imagine how the public woods would be. they would be huge mud riding tracks. i'm totally in favor of a mostly no motor marsh. BTW I own a prodrive just not ignorant to the fact that they destroy whats left of our marsh, scare away wildlife, and take away from the good ole peacefulness of a morning out on the marsh. just think about it all you prodrivers out there.
thought about it....
You are absolutely correct.
Now all u need to do is go get your own private duck lease and make sure to keep that pro drive off it.
Make all the other stupid rules u want on it,obey them,and quit crying about what goes on in public hunting areas.
I think C.GUIDRY is on to something!!! Its quite revolutionary, its so much easier to spell you with a U. What a fine example of the Louisiana school system. C.GUIDRY go put on your white boots, keep that head down, mouth shut, and stay out of the big boy conversations.
NOISE not the problem
You can't be serious. I have been on deer leases that only use airboats, LISTEN, airboats!!!!!!!!
Deer just stand and watch airboats go by. Do you realize how many trophy bucks have been taken right next to construction sites with heavy equipment making lots of noise. Wake up and get off of the noise issue. Not the problem.If there is a food source...they are staying jack. Food source gone, birds, deer, etc. are gone, period. And, get off of saying prodrives making the noise, say surface drives. BECAUSE, gatortails and mudbuddy are by far the loudest!!!!
My Conclusion
I'm getting ready to turn 60 and definetely things aren't like the 'ole days'. In the past young people 'had' to go with an elder to learn the tricks of the trade. They didn't have all these fancy 'mud' units back then. Nor did kids have access to them. Today there are young people that have no idea what duck hunting is supposed to be. You hear them say; we CRUSHED em, if it flies it dies, we 'SMASHED em, blow em away, and so on. Do these kids realize a mama duck had to care and nurture these little ducklings to adulthood. These ducks are not objects in some video game. They have no idea what the proper range is to kill a duck cleanly. As one said there are now 3 and 3 1/2 shells. Believe it or not I still hunt with my old 870 pump chambered for 2 3/4. And no, I do kill them dead a lot of times. I used to do much better with 'hot' reloads of # 5. Now I have to shoot 3 steel for a comparable load. It takes a lot of calling skill and patience to really have a REAL duck hunt. That is what is lacking today. Someone to personally show them the ropes. They have TV shows and DVDs. They have no one saying: wait let em come in closer, no that's too far, try and not shoot a hen, leave some for tomorrow. Well what does this old bird know? I know what hunting used to be like!
Limited Access Areas on WMA
I've hunted the Atchafalaya wma for many years and have noticed the significant increase in hunters. The number of hunters is not something we can control. In fact, as the number of hunters grows so does the image of the hunting community. I'm all for introducing new people to hunting. I also believe that we cannot control the number of birds that decide to winter here in Louisiana. What I have seen on the Atchafalaya delta and wax lake delta is that birds do not use the marsh areas as much as they once did. The constant hunting pressure all day long paired with many hunters having access to all parts of the marsh with mudmotors has driven the birds offshore into the bays. There are no safe places for birds to rest on the public areas which results in hunters having less successful hunts in the marsh. I know this problem will be very hard to fix, but I think the first step in finding a solution would be to expand the limited access areas on WMA's. The limited access areas on both the Atchafalaya delta and Wax Lake are very, very small portions of the acreage open to public hunting. As they are now, these limited access areas are not even significant. If these limited access areas made up 30%-50% of the public land we would see more birds in the marsh and hunter's success rates would go up. Mudmotors or not to blame, DU is not to blame, The number of hunters is not to blame, BUT there are things we could change about public lands to help the hunting situation. And I agree with 'international harvester', there are too many hunters that do not respect the sport and the challenge of duck hunting...
No use
It is evident that there are people with mud boats do not think they and their boats do not harass the waterfowl. They are entitled to their thoughts and you will not be able to change them. The real reason they use those boats are to get to where the ducks are easily. They are not willing to think that the noise combined with people do not disturb the birds.
I hunted an area in Delacroix where we had a large open very shallow lake that held a couple of thousand birds very single day during the season. They were there and not harassed by a mud boat running them up. Why did I say mud boat ?? Because back in 1977 there were no long tails or surface drives around to disturb them. I hunted an area on the opposite side of he lake that you had to push pole across thru mud to get to. It would take 30 minutes of tough pulling to get there. You might scare up a few birds that were very close to you. Most stayed right where they were. By having these large concentration of birds sitting there we were able to hunt the edges all season. If I would have had a mud boat to do what I did I would have spooked the birds off. Believe me if I had one I most probably would have used it. I do know I would not have had the good hunts on a daily basis the entire season.
Keep believing these boats have not stressed the birds. You may still kill some ducks on the fronts but it will suffer. It is complete ignorance to think they do not. The majority of mud boat owners are not doing things intentionally but as long as they keep scaring up birds from major distances there will be harm. AND yes there are some motors that are significantly louder than others due to alterations.
The days of seeing large bodies of ducks( many thousands) are gone due to the infiltration of hunters and noise . Hunters+ noise+ infiltration = harassment . The only places I see these large bodies of birds today are on management areas that are not easily accessible to and do not allow air cooled engines.
I started this post and I stated I do own a SD. It has made my hunting easier in the past but I too have seen the degregation to the sport of duck hunting. If you make it to easy it is no longer a sport. I gave up deer hunting with a rifle because it had become to easy. Shame on you if you do not kill a deer with a good gun at 100 yards. The advancements to our sports are hurting us.
I am for the lessening of noise to the areas where ducks habitat. How this is accomplished I do not know. Seems like they could build a better muffler for these boats. So what if you go a little slower??? Or do not go thru the birds??? And be courteous about running thru someone else's lease ???
not much is going to change
Let me tell you why i don't think we will see alot of changes in surface drive, mudboat, etc regulations for the public lands. First of all, there is too much money to be made from distributors of this equipment (i.e. boys digging deep in their pockets keeping other pockets lined well to make sure there is no change of law) and secondly if you discourage hunter participation by making those hunters work harder (pirogue, walking, etc)........license sales will probably go down the drain which will account for a revenue loss for the state. Again, this is just speculation, but in this day and age you never can speculate too much.
Honestly guys I think the best combo is to use a surface drive then blind up in a pirogue.. It's very difficult to hunt boat blinds where we hunt the grass is so short.. However when the big fronts come through I find the surface drives easier than outboards to get where you want. Can't say how many times I've ran over a bay that had only a few inches if water that looks deep from a distance . You can't beat a pirogue and an avery marsh seat in the marsh excellent combination.
Harassment Of Ducka
I'm chiming in again. The ducks are definitely being harassed on a daily basis. I've hunted a local lake since the seventies. All of us successful hunters had air boats. But we wouldn't use them to chase up ducks. We used them responsibly; only to get to and from the blind. Today it'a different story. Some of the guys with mudmotors today enjoy 'riding' their boats more than hunting. It kinda reminds me of those 'bass fishermen' with their 70 mph rockets. I hate to say it, but in today's world 'those that can't' make sure you can't either.
There are still a lot of you hollering for limited access areas and no mud motors. I understand how it sounds like a great idea, and I used to be all about it but I don't believe they make a difference anymore. And I doubt any of you hollering for them have ever hunted them consistantly.

I said it earlier in this post and I'll say it again. You want all those restrictions then I CHALLENGE you all to go hunt Big Branch NWR or Manchac prarie! I hunted Big branch NWR exclusively for over 4 seasons. There are ZERO air cooled motors allowed, paddle in only area, can only hunt Tues, Wed, Sat Sun. I would paddle over two miles one way to hunt. Even with ALL those RESTRICTIONS, I still struggled to ever kill limits. I averaged 3-4 birds a hunt in 4 seasons there.
Now don't get me wrong either, I loved hunting in big branch still do it from time to time. BUT it is OBVIOUS that that is not the answer to why ducks are not here like they should be. IF so Big Branch NWR would be a Louisiana duck hunting MECA of the state.
There is more going on causing the issues we have here than just mudmotors and LAA areas. More regulations are not the answer, If you want it to change you need to focus on other issues. Habitat (storm suge/feed habitat loss), More LDWF GW's, getting DU/Delta to shift their focus away from the same areas of the state over and over again and move it east to Lake P, Lake B., Biloxi marsh, and Miss river delta areas.
Most enjoyable hunting
The most enjoyable hunting was when the limit was 3 ducks. No one hunted because they felt is was not worth it. There were no surface drives back then and people had to work for the few ducks they shot. That being said, I try not to hunt public land unless I have to anymore.
3 duck limit days pulled the words out of my mouth. I'd go back to just a limit of 3 any day instead of putting up with what's going on these days. I can remember the limit of 3 when i was a little kid and having very enjoyable hunts. It would get rid of all the duck hunter wannabees we are flooded with these days.