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This is just my opinion, but based on Larry Reynolds aerial survey last week and my hunting logs over the last decade, the 2nd split opener is “always” better than the first split opener, hence I firmly believe we “always” have more ducks in South LA in mid December than we do in early to mid November. With that said, I still think the coastal zone opens too early. I still would like to see duck season for south LA open in mid November (or even the Saturday before Thanksgiving) and close on the last Sunday in January. Also, I find it strange that the West Zone which now extends up to NW LA closes in mid January and not the last Sunday in January. When I use to hunt Red River and Toledo Bend our best hunts with the mallards was always late January. Same thing held true for hunting in Monroe, LA and in Mississippi around Jackson and Vicksburg. The layout of the three zones seems weird too. It seems political to me to give hunters more than 60 days to hunt by hunting multiple zones. Why don’t we just have a north and south zone and if we did maybe the south zone border should extend a little further north above Hwy 90 so that areas like Big Branch, Bayou Savage, Manchac etc are in the south zone too. Perhaps Interstate 12 from MS to Interstate 12 in Baton Rouge could be the border for south and north zones. We could just have a statewide season too with no zones. This is just my two cents. Comments are welcomed as I do know Larry Reynolds does read these posts.
Another valid point is,
If duck season opened in mid November or even the Saturday before Thanksgiving it would give the ducks a couple of weeks to rest up and get lazy once they get to LA without any hunting pressure, hence opening weekend of the 1st split should be fast and furious like the ole' days. With the season opening so early, it seems that the ducks are so skittish and smart on the opening weekend of the 1st split as they have been shot at the entire migration from Canada to LA without a break. It just seems that the last 5 years or so I have never seen ducks so skittish and blind smart as they have been for the opener of the 1st split. This theory holds true because the 2nd split opener is 'always' better as the ducks had a period of 12 days to rest with no pressure, hence they tend to get a little stupid during this time allowing for a good opening weekend of the 2nd split.
Changes Needed
Totally agree...
No disrespect to Mr. Larry but I am with Coot. This season so far I have never had so many skittish flare offs in my entire carreer of hunting. And also in the past there was always ducks decoying right at shoot time or right before. This season it seams I have to wait to 7:30 or 8:00 before anything even looks at the spread and some times before I see a duck within shooting range. I am using the same areas and set up that have been successful for the past 15 years.
Well said bill collector I agree... What is the deal this year?
Not enough ducks and the ones are here are presured. I seems yo have to wait until after 10:30 before they start to decoy. They must now know that if they fly in the morning they get shot at and if they wait until later or just avoid decoys the chance is less likley.
Plenty of ducks...
I think there are plenty of ducks, at least a huntable amount for hunter success, however if the season dates and framework was thought out more carefully hunter success would increase. I just don't like the current zone and season frame work. I don't think it gives the majority of hunters the best opportunity for success.

Check out Mississippi's season dates. It opens for two consecutive 3 day weekends (Friday - Sunday) not opening until Friday, November 22, closes during the week (Mon-Thur), re-opens the following Friday Nov 29th, then after the 2nd weekend it is closed for two days and then runs straight to the last Sunday of January. No zones either. This appeals to those who hunt deer and ducks too. I sure would like to see our season dates like this. Did you notice that MS does not care if the season opens on a weekend or not. Nov 22nd and 29th are both Fridays. Dec 4th is Wednesday. MS has always tried to open as late as possible and close their season as late as possible into January. The way it looks like MS picks their season dates is to FIRST decide which day it will close (i.e. the last Sunday in January) then work your way backwards from that day choosing your 60 day season having the season open on a Friday or Saturday. Why can't LA do this??? Makes sense to me. Of course, it we have a 45 or 30 day season, it would change things a bit.

MS Duck Season: Duck, merganser, and coot seasons will be November 22 - November 24, 2013; November 29 - December 1, 2013; and December 4, 2013 - January 26, 2014.

In regards to late decoying birds, I have always found the birds work best late starting at 8:30 am. I often hunt 9am to 12pm to take my birds, however I normally don't do this until the 2nd split. I made several hunts in the 1st split where we didn't set up until 8:30 or 9:00 and we hammered them. We made this late hunts b/c of what bill collector is saying. THE BIRDS JUST DON'T HAVE ANY TIME TO REST UP WHEN THEY GET TO LOUISIANA WHEN OUR SEASON OPENS ON NOVEMBER 9TH. The good ole' days of limiting out in the first hour or so, getting back to the office on weekdays before 9:00-10:00 am have been long gone.
duck season dates
Years ago I would of said that the earlier in November the better. BUT, things are changing. Did you know that the recent hunter survey wanted the coastal zone to open November 17 and because of one commission member objecting to it they voted to open November 9! Very political!
Wow !!!
I did not know that..... I've always said it is political, but geez.... I have not yet met one hunter in the entire Coastal Zone who thinks the season should not open later in November. I call BS....
The proof is in the pudding....
And one last comment,
If people think it is not fair for duck season to open on a Friday like it does in MS b/c they can't take off of work or the kids are in school etc, then why not do something like Arkansas does, it can open on a Saturday then close on a Monday. Regardless both of our neighboring states have no zones and run their seasons to the last Sunday of January and do not open until at least the 3rd weekend of November. So let's see MS coastal hunters have the same tidal problems we do with low water in late January, but there season still opens in late November and runs to late January and Arkansas's season didn't open till November 23rd. Geez, the ducks can stop in Arkansas as long as there is water and stay there until pressured to come to LA. And we all know Arkansas doesn't freeze up much anymore these days.

The 2013-2014 Arkansas duck season dates are

Nov. 23-Dec. 1;
Dec. 5-Dec. 23; and
Dec. 26-Jan. 26
Doing some more research,
I decided to look up the season dates for Texas too, the other neighboring state. Although they have 3 zones and open as early as late October and early November, please note all three zones still run to the last Sunday of January being January 26th this year.
first week of the duck season is ALWAYS the best week of the year for me in bayou black. this year was no exception.
I have an opinion and my opinion is to open the season the second weekend in November just like always.


btw: opening of the second season was worst in years.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but if I recall back in the day when I was a teenager and into my college years and post young adult life, duck season use to open the Saturday before Thanksgiving which is typically the 3rd weekend of November. Is Bayou Black in the coastal zone? I do understand this year November had 5 weekends in it which is not typical, hence the season opened so early on November 9th being the 2nd weekend of the month, but the 16th or preferably the 23rd would have been better. Also, keep in mind your bread and butter duck is the ring neck. This only holds true for a very small amount of the population of LA who rely on ring necks to fill their bags. The vast majority of hunters in south LA primarily shoot gadwall and teal.
duck hunting
Sound like I said that, so true.
after reading all this.....i'd say a majority of us are on the same page with opening of the coastal zone, 'They need to push the first opener to a later date.' I hate speculating but of course it seems to be no surprise that duck season regulations have a most political influence. I call this corruption in the system. If any of you are interested in visiting another website that you can read reports/posts, etc......check out Specifically, go to the Arkansas forum pages. I've validated many of my speculations on why we don't see the birds we used to in southern Louisiana either through pictures on that site or reading some of the guides and everyday hunters posts. Duck hunting has become a money making industry fellas, and we're paying the consequences.
My 2 Cents
Just as winning in sports solves the perception of having a problem having a lot of ducks in our area would do the same regarding the dates of our duck season. If everyone were shooting limits this discussion would not be happening nor would a week or two make any difference.

The real issue is for whatever reason we don't have as many ducks in Louisiana this year. We have the cold weather and the vegetation which are the most important factors. I can rule those two out. There are other causes but those are speculation.

Bottom line is the ducks are migratory and they are not here even after cold front after cold front and having the food for them to eat. I have been doing this a long time with success most of the time but this year is not good. I know the difference between skies with ducks and skies without ducks and the latter is the case.

Either we have been lied to concerning the population of ducks in North America or the ducks are still north of Louisiana which I find hard to believe. My thought is we just don't have the ducks.
duck hunting
No duck, open this week all that cold less duck.
I agree with you
Over 67% of the country is frozen and we still dont have the numbers we've all become accustomed to having - what gives ? Ponds and marsh are beautiful, water levels are right, yet still, not a lot of birds - we had tons of ducks, but our birds have moved through - time for a new wave !
I have to disagree with your statement:

'If everyone were shooting limits this discussion would not be happening nor would a week or two make any difference.'

I continually year after year no matter what state, where I live, where I hunt manage to have tremendous success. Even though I am limiting out on most hunts even this year, I still think the season opens too early. Why complain? Well because when they look at setting the new framework in the next few years, I don't want to see the current framework stay in place. I do not think it is the best interest of the duck hunters as a whole to have the season open so early.
arkansas ducks
Hunted south of Stuttgart, Arkansas on December 10-11. UNBELIEVABLE amount of birds. Ricefields from Tallulah to Stuttgart were filled with ducks and geese. Not only mallards but gadwall,spoonbill,pintail,etc. Snow/blue and specklebelly geese blackened the fields and skies. Haven't been to this area since the late 90's. Fields that were once cottonfields are NOW rice or soybeans. LOTS of areas were frozen over but the birds were still there! Why migrate here? They have all the food and habitat they want up there!
FLOODED rice, bean, corn fields affecting migrations
Louisiana marsh guide service....thank you very much for that testimony. I think any duck hunter with some common sense can definitely believe that harvested grain fields with a ton of grain purposely left over in the field and then flooded will affect waterfowl habits.....ESPECIALLY in areas with a more moderate climate such as the Arkansas area. Believe it or not though, I have been told that this is not the case. I have been told that the buffet laid out to the north and west has nothing at all to do with our lack of ducks here in southeast LA. And I have been given so many other excuses such as that gadwalls don't use those fields when i've seen pics of gadwalls in the rice fields and given info such as you have just given. I hate being lied to and I'm glad you could back me up. Please continue to argue the case. Thanks!
We are fed so much b.s! There were thousands of gadwall. We did shoot a few to fill our limits as a 'filler' duck because we wanted mallards obviously. As you know a mallard is a treat for us down here. The mallards and gadwall would leave the ricefields about 8 am after the sun was shining to come to the timber. It was amazing. The spoonbills would stay in the fields though and gorge on the rice. Arkansas is wintering more and more gadwall each year as commented by the outfitters there.
Prior to the 1940's the favored habitat for snow/blue geese were the coastal marshes of Louisiana and Texas. WELL.........guess what disrupted that? Rice and bean fields that began to spring up north of us. Plain and simple our waterfowl are being short stopped.
FLOODED rice, bean, corn fields affecting migrations
I'm not sure how much the birds like a dry field, but I can certainly say that a wet year such as this year......PUT SIMPLY we are screwed. Very north Louisiana and Arkansas must look like one giant lake from the sky with all the flooded fields. I mostly take issue when the field is artificially flooded because they are putting 'water in the feed.' Why aren't we allowed to put 'feed in the water?'; see what i'm getting at? The year of the drought (about 2 years ago).......we were covered in ducks and I think just about every southeast Louisiana duck hunter can attest it was their best season in years. I think we are starting to near the tipping point of frustration. This website has been full of nothing but comment and complaint coming from subpar duck population in Louisiana. They best be careful or they will see a major or catastrophic revenue loss from a lack of duck license sales from the Louisiana folk.
speaking up
Coot Im glad to see some discussion on this. I know you kill a lot of birds year in an year out and that you work hard for them, you also seem to hunt some of the best and most prime private habitat left in SE LA and I enjoy reading your posts.

I am also glad to see some others speaking out about things that I have been seeing and saying all season. I posted some of this in two other threads as well as a legit question to Larry R. about statistics from his surveys on WL&F web site and never got a response.

Ducks are no different than any other animal they go through life with just three things on their minds, FOOD, SHELTER and SEX. we have all in abundance this year, so where are they?

I too hunt in SE LA. And this is with out question the worst season I have ever had. I have not shot enough times to go through one box of shells! Same ponds, same set ups, same areas as past 6 season. I'm not flaring them, im not in wrong spots, enough feed to choke my motor. I hunt till mid day and never even see a bird move. I have lease and WMA to hunt with no birds, I scout daily after each hunt and jump less than 10 birds on 3k acers. We have not been hit by a storm for first time in 6yrs and I have more Feed, better than usual water levels, and colder than usual weather. But still no birds.
I have easily 1,000 coot in my lease pond every day I hunt it. Each time I glass them with binocs, there is not ONE DUCK in amongst them. WTF!
There is something Foul (pun intended) afoot. Birds are not here for a reason. Personally I think it is due to Agricultural changes in middle states and duck hunting becoming BIG business in areas of the US that traditionally are not big duck hunting states.
just my $.02
heritage and culture of duck hunting in southeast Louisiana
The thing is that it is part of our heritage and culture in southeast Louisiana to hunt ducks/geese. It was an important part of my great grandpa, grandpa's life to hunt, and is very important to my dad and I. There is only one thing I love to do in this life and that is to duck hunt. What's happening is the tradition is being taken from us slowly but SURELY. To me its like taking my arm. The states to the north with developed agricultural land is a man made thing and it doesn't have a history of hunting waterfowl. They could care less about the enjoyment and more about the money made from guiding people on their thousand acre flooded grain properties. Am i frustrated? That is an understatement!
duck hunting
Like I said and I will say it over and over water in the rice or rice in our water is all the same let us put feed in our water I am 65, year back lot of big boys had feed in there ponds we all had Duck's the hole year U new when u went out that day u were going to kill some duck's. My son and i last 3 hunts were 0. our first 4 hunts we had 3 of us It look's like we shot all we had and there r no new duck's that came down with all that cold up north. Some thing does not sound right...O yes it does there still up north in the rice.

this look like we have
Seems like a lot of people are in the same boat this year. Very unfortunate and disappointing after not having a hurricane finally. It'll get better just give it time.
Been there, done that .....
Most everything in this thread has already been discussed before right here in this forum. I've already explained the process, the hunter-survey data, the harvest data, why the zones are the way they are, and opposing opinions that have led to the current regulations. There are only a couple of things I need to address:

1) Arkansas and Mississippi have no zones. That is the only way you can have 3 season segments (2 splits). I have done 3 hunter-opinion surveys where I asked about zones and splits, and the no-zones/2 splits option has NEVER received more than 35% support. Especially in years when season length is reduced (remember the 30/3 seasons?), it provides FAR less flexibility to set satisfying seasons in both NE and SW Louisiana.

2) Texas has 74 day duck seasons, not 60 like the Mississippi Flyway. They can open earlier and still run to the end of the framework. We can't do that.

3) Louisiana Marsh Guide Service is incorrect regarding 'one Commissioner objecting' to a Nov. 16 Coastal Zone opener.

As explained earlier, the later season dates were the most popular option of Coastal Zone hunters on the hunter-opinion survey, but it didn't get 50% like it did in the West and East Zones. Furthermore, the harvest data clearly show higher success during the early season than the late season both in total and in per hunter success. So I recommended the Nov. 9th opener, and I'd do it again. (Just look at the bag-check data from the 4 coastal WMAs on Nov. 9th vs that from Dec. 14th).

There was no objection to the Nov. 16th opener from one Commissioner. In fact, Commissioners Broussard, Taylor, Drost, and Sagrera all questioned the hunter survey data in light of the harvest data and clearly supported the Nov. 9th opener. Commissioner Davis supported the Nov. 16th opener, Commissioner Manuel expressed no opinion to me, and Commissioner Graham didn't care because he is not from the Coastal Zone and relied on the preferences of the other Commissioners the way they relied on him for the East Zone dates.

Louisiana Marsh Guide Service needs to find a better source of information. There were no politics played in setting this year's season dates. I explained the rationale for my recommendations to the Commission, and they supported those recommendations. We can agree or disagree about the best season dates, but don't misrepresent actions of the Commission.

4) Asechikan242: I've never received a question via the LDWF website that hasn't been answered. I am required to answer all questions assigned to me from the website, and I don't believe a question about our surveys would go to anyone else.

Feel free to e-mail me any survey-relate question. I'm pretty easy to contact.
Things are changing BUT
There is no doubt that things are changing, and NOT for the better for Louisiana waterfowl hunters, but the death of our cultural heritage is badly exaggerated.

Look at the harvest data. We kill over a million ducks MORE than the next highest state. We kill more ducks per hunter in a season than every state except California, where hunters have a 107-day season with a 7-bird daily bag limit. If you want to kill a duck, Louisiana is still the place to come.

Our active waterfowl hunters have increased, not decreased but increased, from 50,000 in 2005 to nearly 104,000 in 2012. While many other states are losing hunters, we are gaining them. The waterfowl hunting in this state is so 'bad' that our hunter numbers and hunting activity has been increasing. Waterfowl hunting as part of our culture if anything has been revitalized lately.
Larry R. I'm sorry my comment wasn't meant to call you out or anything. I really appreciate the info you freely give out here, and know you work hard to give us the best hunting you can. I was simply trying to indicate there is missing information to the puzzle of why there are not birds here like I have seed for 5 previous seasons.
I posed the question in two discussions that were on here, I did not email it you directly. I apologize I should have. When I get some time I'll send it you.
Mr. Reynolds
It was announced on a very popular public radio station about why the coastal zone did not open November 16! The host of the show said ' because of one commision member..............'. If I am able to be find a sound byte of that show I will embed it to accompany my next post if possible.
Our heritge is thick and rich here and we have histroically killed more ducks than anywhere else in the country because of the Mississippi River and the agriculture that was a necessity for people to survive. The states above us have been jealous for a long time and have vowed to sabatoge us in some kind of way. As time passes agriculture has become less important to people making a living and land has been passed down to the children of farmers. These people have realized that more money can be made by utilizing agricultural land for subdivisions and for duck leasing. People pay big money for this. We are being short stopped. Check your logs only when drought exists above us and we have no strorms do we all do well. I personnaly believe that corn and beans grown for the sole purpose of feeding ducks then being flooded and not harvested should be illegal and not something I would consider to be a normal agricultural practice. Farmers typically dont leave crop on the vine to fall off and rot or flood fields right when its time to harvest. These people should be in jail. Here we have rice which is harvested by normal practice and is flooded for a reason not just for waterfowl. But hey if you say its for conservation and creating habitat everyone thinks its OK. Several factors for us to have statewide success no storms, drought above us, good duck production, and cold weather. If we are missing one its hit or miss you either got them or you don't. Good luck and pray for drought and no stroms next year.
Louisiana Marsh Guide Service
I hope you understand that if you had said, 'It was announced on a very popular public radio station about why the coastal zone did not open November 16! The host of the show said ' because of one commision member..............'.' Then my comment would have been directed at that announcer and not at you.

Regardless, you now know the whole story including the names of the participants.

I am VERY tired of the implications or direct accusations that there is some covert, big-money, political influence in things like the awarding our statutorily-dedicated conservation funds to DU or Delta, or the changing of zones, or the season-setting process, or many other things.

All of that was done in the wide open, with public meetings, evaluations of proposals, hunter-opinion surveys, LOTS of discussion on public websites, and public votes of Commissioners. I am personally and professionally more available and publicly active than any Waterfowl Study Leader has ever been, but there is a limit to how much I can do. I fielded calls from hunters, guides, and colleagues until 8:30 pm last night after releasing the December aerial survey report ..... and the wife is getting pissed.

So pardon me if my tone gets a bit snippy. I'm a duck hunter just like the rest of you, so the most important thing in my life is influenced by the same things y'all discuss on this forum. I'm not a separate entity, and I probably think about all these things as much or more than anyone.

End of rant ...... thanks for the therapy!
Things don't add up .....
Asechikan242: No worries about calling me out, especially regarding what I interpreted to be a website question. Sometimes I don't get questions submitted on our website forwarded to me for as long as 7-10 days. I wanted you to know that was a possibility.

Regarding your comment: ' I was simply trying to indicate there is missing information to the puzzle of why there are not birds here like I have seed for 5 previous seasons.'

You are absolutely right. Despite our intimate knowledge of waterfowl, there is still a LOT we don't know and can't explain. Believe me, if I KNEW when and where ducks were going to move or stay, I would NOT be working as a waterfowl biologist for the state of Louisiana. I'd be selling that information to the highest bidder (because y'all already know how much money duckhunters will spend). I currently don't understand why I didn't see more birds on the coastal survey given the colder weather this year. It looks almost exactly like last December. I mean look at the reports from the last 2 Decembers (I'll have this year's survey on the website in a couple of hours), and they are almost identical. We'll see what AR and MS surveys show.

We have good monthly surveys in Louisiana, but even those don't cover all important habitats. Not all states, and certainly not Mexico and Canada, have similar surveys, and those surveys are not coordinated. We have seen from satellite telemetry how mallards and pintails at least move down, and back up, and down the flyway. We have seen how distributions of birds are changing, such as black-bellied whistling ducks and white-winged doves greatly expanding their breeding and wintering ranges north and eastward. We have seen more northern wintering distributions of mallards, snow geese, and white-fronted geese, and we expect that to continue, NOT because a few places flood unharvested grain to hunt ducks, but because of large-scale landscape-level changes in habitat and climate.

And if you think that Louisiana is the same place it was 15 or 50 years ago, you need to look again. Coastal wetland loss, invasive aquatics, and changes in rice-agriculture have made this state FAR less attractive to wintering ducks. If you don't like current trends, I fear we have bigger changes coming in the future. I'm not going to hide or lie about them.
They are hunters just like you and me
Bill collectors comment: \' The states above us have been jealous for a long time and have vowed to sabatoge us in some kind of way.\'

is simply not true, and it is one reason that we will never get any traction for policies that restrict activities in other states.

Those guys in Illinios, Missouri, and Arkansas are duckhunters just like you and me. They buy licenses, duck stamps, join DU and Delta, and invest their time and money to kill ducks. Louisiana has no greater, deeper, or more important waterfowling culture than the folks in the Illinois River bottoms, or the prairies of Iowa (now gone), the Delta of Arkansas, or even the Kankakee Marshes of Indiana (now gone). Just look at our classic waterfowl literature.

And I will say it again, and again, and again ..... look at the harvest data and try to make the case that we are being sabotaged.
hurricanes and ducks
ducks will be ducks. some years will be better than others. no scientific research will be able to understand what ducks do or why. my worst hunts come on the coldest of days and best hunts come with strong south winds and 70 degree weather. season dates mean nothing to me, but evidently I'm the minority on this. over the past several seasons, it appears that the birds than come down during thanksgiving week are the birds we shoot on for the rest of the season. what I don't understand is where do they go? we had thousands and thousands the first week of the season and now hardly nothing. our property is beautiful - the Saturday before the split the birds just left. regardless - I will hunt
are we all ignorant?
I must say, I'm getting tired of being treated as ignorant, and see everyone else that voices an opinion also treated as so. There are hunters on here with a lifetime of duck hunting experience mentioning ideas that contribute to our lack of duck population these days......but that's null and void so to speak. There always seems to be a cover up answer for everything......excuses for everything. I can't believe that decisions are being made in conflict with the majority vote. But its ok because i already knew this was the case. Its always 'we can't please everyone' and 'we don't understand what's causing these things.' Also, the death of our culture is badly exaggerated is it? If you call all these wanna be duck hunters ruining the sportsmanship of duck hunting revitalizing our culture of duck are blind my friend. Hunting numbers may be up 'NOW' which i think is the key word......but the sportsmanship of most hunters today is DEAD. I've said enough....bye.
LA seasons suck
Mr. Renolds, if you believe for a second that Mizzou, Ark., and even Ill., are not hurting us/shortstopping the birds, then you need to check some data, i.e., for starters just check out the increase in acreage that these states are now using for rice fields and compare it to about 5-8 yrs ago....and trust me, it's not because the world needs more rice. mention the harvest data for Nov. 9th, just imagine if it would have opened the 23rd instead, it would have been better and quicker. For all of your collected data and what you may or may not think, this LA split system, NOW, sucks plain and simple. We need to open later and hunt as late as possible, PERIOD!!!!!!!!! Coot and bill collector are 100% correct. Drought up north is the key and Miss. season is great. I for one work shift work and I'm not going to wasted Vac. days to make the meetings. Why don't we put surveys at all WMA points and see how much more of a real response we get. Just 2 cents from and old duckhunter with 44+ years of hunting experience.
Good Season
So far it's been a good season. Let's count our blessings that its been cold up north to keep these birds migrating. If you see 50 or 60 degree temps in St. Louis or Detroit then say by to our ducks. I've had mostly good hunts so far. As far as changing the zones or splits, I liked it like it used to be with east and west zone. I voted for no change. Since they have done this now we open a week earlier. Just my 2 cents
say what you want
This was filmed Jan 2013 yep Jan watch it he doesn't know it but he is saying what we are seeing.
So far my worst season ever
This year so far has been my worst season ever after over 43 years of duck hunting on my own. Now all of my hunting is done on management areas in the SE area of the state from the Pearl River area to Indian Bayou. Many years ago all of the areas I hunted were fantastic but in the last ten years or so the hunting has been up and down, but more down. Monday when I got to the launch on the Pearl River for my first second split hunt, I knew it was going to be bad because I was the only vehicle at the launch at 4:30 am. Sure enough I did not even see one duck. Manchac and Maurepas are just the same.
Larry, what gives? If La. kills more birds then any other state can you tell me what area of this state usually kills the majority of the birds and what percentage comes from management areas? I know the SE area can't be, even with some of the private lands that are doing OK. This year we have the cold weather and all the duck feed needed but no birds.
Losing our heritage? I planned to start my older [12 and 8] grandchildren this year but it may be a bird watching adventure instead of a duck hunt, and that's sad. Any hunter who has hunted long enough has seen some negative changes that have transpired concerning duck hunting. The mallards disappeared from the Lake Maurepas cypress/tupelo swamp area where we would see thousands in a day. In 1988 Phil Robertson and Warren Coco made their first duck hunting tape in that area. The changing weather, salvania taking over, farming practices changing up north, more federal refuges, local erosion, who knows! Now there are no ducks out there except for a few woodies.
If we now have 104,000 duck hunters in the state then I would venture to say that about 10,000 [10% of the hunters killing 90% of the birds] duck hunters are satisfied. And that's not good.
If things continue to decline in the SE area then the number of hunters will also decline. That's good for the hunters who don't want the competition but bad for LW&F because less licenses sold means less money available to operate efficiently and effectively.
I have never gone out of state to duck hunt but this may change. I have talked to others who now only duck hunt in states north of us like Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas & Oklahoma. They said that they saw plenty of ducks and geese like we use to see here and killed easy limits. Also, they were treated like kings and enjoyed the whole experience. They said that they will continue to take their money out of state.
Are we losing our heritage? Yes, slowly but surely. And that's sad!
There is A LOT of variables!
First and foremost, i agree with the above for the most part, something is terribly wrong with the numbers this year. i don't know what all needs to be done ,for sure,but something surely does. we have under 1/3 of what we normally harvest. i can say a few things that need to be done but they might seem outlandish to some. the amount of land maintained for the sport needs some limitations!! the sport is so huge across the country and it has become a pissing contest of who has the most money to maintain land ,then hold ducks there. so many people with ag fields and the numbers growing more and more each year. if theres no standing season i believe it should be mandatory that the fields be emptied. only so many fields per square mile if used for recreational hunting and if the people owning them have an issue it should become lottery on who gets a field that year! there should only be so many safe haven areas per area and less of which privately owned in an are with a wildlife refuge. you can gripe all you want about seasons but the ducks actually have to make it here first! If you can't give hunters that much then change the seasons to best fit us since Humans are altering the natural 'migration'!! if ice can't be broken in a manual matter you shouldn't be able to use a thawing machine to keep ponds open.maybe a maul cracking through the pond but no chainsaws either. so many regs in america are against the alteration of nature why can't this be. ultimately, what is to come of the whole sport if we allow this to continue? can you even call it migrating anymore?!? they say you can't hunt after january because of pairing up but how come theres a youth day into february this year? a week or two after the regular season is over?!?!?!?! when i go out in march for conservation season i see 30-50,000 ducks in a 550 acre wetland owned by ldwf!! probably more than that, its sickening. how come blue wing season was raised when the total population was -6% this year? ill tell you why, cause they know we are getting screwed, gotta give us something. yes i know larry reynolds you said that the extra 2 wouldn't hurt the population by whatever calculations you use which doesn't make any sense whatsoever!!! math don't lie, shoot more ducks population will decrease so it is a straight up tale!! also there shouldnt be so many rice fields and private land areas around management areas. theres no need to go to the management area with rice and whatever else around when ldwf doesn't maintain our public land. they sure as hell get the money from our taxes. its probably all a lie they don't spend all that money here. guarantee you most of it goes to the feds and they spend it wherever. all the meetings aren't set up worth a damn and the info you get isn't from enough hunters across this state. normal people work and can't get there during those hours!! i think the rich and higher ups know the ldwf guys and they get together on what best suits them. this stuff doesn't add up!! DUCKS UNLIMITED should be regulated also. ponds that don't freeze extra safe havens every year which has to be a huge issue. they pick and choose where they wanna spend money for what they like. yeah they help the coastal marsh a little but thats about it in this state. they built a wetland area where i hunt on the wma but ldwf gives me the run around every year on why they don't maintain it. its trees its this or that let me talk to forestry etc etc. many duck hunters would go out and volunteer with the state for better seasons. i don't know why all these organizations go seven different directions intend of working together. everyone is pissed this year so larry reynolds its not working. you can't do anything about a season if the guys up north make sure they don't get here!! thats the issue!!!!! unnatural alterations of the migration should be illegal in whatever way LARRY REYNOLDS look into that guys. IF ANYTHING they want to keep messing us over make it cheaper and easier to get a license in other states. the laws for duck hunting can't be that much different when its a federally regulated bird. maybe some limits and dates?!? then we can go up there and give em hell on their stomping grounds. see how they like that crap!! what do y'all say?
Thanks Super duck
I just looked at the video you posted the web address to and watching it just makes me wonder. I have always said that commercialization was killing the sport of duck hunting but what I meant was it was killing OUR duck hunting! You know I am pretty sure that all the states north of us are smarter and lying about the number of ducks that are killed every year. No way La. is killing more birds any more!
Superduck, I know that you hunted the Manchac Management Area and finally got disgusted and quit. My Dad made his last duck hunt with me out there when he was 65 yrs old. He is now 92 and asked me to just take him for a ride out there. I'm going to take him out there this year. He doesn't want to hunt so we will just drink coffee and eat homemade egg sandwiches. Maybe a duck will sneak down from those bean fields in Oklahoma and stop at the 'Prairie'.
response to good season
A good season is good from Nov. to Jan., not just the first split. I checked the ag records for Mizzou about 5 yrs ago and compared them to 5 yrs back from that point. Their increase in rice fields were staggering. It was something like 50 thousand acres up to 300 thousand acres. And like I said in my previous post, it's not cause the world needs more rice. I have good friends who hunt Ark. and Mizzou and they are totally shocked by not only the amount of birds that stay there but by the amount of feed for them that is left out on purpose. Ducks will not come down here unless they have no feed and water up there. Talk to me in Jan. and lets see how your season is stacking up trying to shoot the few birds here that's been here all season cause we ain't getting new ones.
You are treated as you treat others
duckhunter_89 says, ' I'm getting tired of being treated as ignorant, and see everyone else that voices an opinion also treated as so.'

And then he rejects survey data from hunters who disagree, harvest data collected consistently for years, calls other hunters 'wanna be', and implies that increased rice acreage in states to the north of us is being done to keep ducks up there rather than a long-established trend of rice agriculture moving north because new varieties and ag economics make it profitable for northern farmers to plant it.

duk_huntiac says: 'LA seasons suck' despite long-term harvest data, data that is collected from real hunters shooting real ducks and submitting real wings, showing exactly the opposite. He won't waste his own time coming to public meetings, but thinks surveys should be left at all WMA's, when only 25% our hunters even hunt public land, when every survey I've conducted has been web-enabled so EVERYONE can participate in a far more cost-effective way.

And then the classic comment of this thread from MEV: 'You know I am pretty sure that all the states north of us are smarter and lying about the number of ducks that are killed every year. No way La. is killing more birds any more!'

Really? You think hunters in all those other states are lying about their harvest just so their totals are lower than Louisiana's? Do you think Louisiana's hunters are more honest or do they lie in the other direction so that our harvest data is so much higher than it really is?

C'mon now ........

You honestly think there is that kind of conspiracy to ruin your duck hunting?

You honestly think moving the season dates 2 weeks later at the beginning and 1 week later on the end will solve your duck-hunting problems?

You honestly believe that we should take action to stop any increase in rice agriculture in other states? That we should stop any habitat development in other states? That duck hunters/managers in states like Missouri (which killed 455,000 ducks to our 2.7 million last year) or Illinois (which killed 401,000) or even Arkansas (which killed 1.3 million) are going to take you seriously?
Where are our problems?
MEV asked a great question: 'If La. kills more birds then any other state can you tell me what area of this state usually kills the majority of the birds and what percentage comes from management areas?'

The largest proportion of our kill comes from SW Louisiana, and has since the first harvest summaries were done in the mid-70's. I do not know what percentage comes from public lands, private lands or others because the statewide harvest data are collected only to Parish level.

We do know from our recent surveys that only 25-30% of our hunters hunt at least 1 day on public lands of WMAs or NWRs, so I would expect that the kill is somewhat less than 30% from public lands, but that is a guess.

MEV also makes a very good point about the deterioration of duck hunting in SE Louisiana. Why is that?

Well where would you expect duck hunting to deteriorate first and the worst in Louisiana? Coastal SE Louisiana of course. THAT is where the coastal wetland loss has been the worst. THAT is where our forested wetlands are dying and have been ruined for waterfowl habitat value by invasive aquatics. Even if where YOU hunt is still in great shape, the large-scale habitat conditions for waterfowl in coastal SE Louisiana has been drastically reduced ....... you all know that to be true.

And what species predominate SE Louisiana marshes and the bags of our hunters there? Grays, ring-necks, bluewings, greenwings, scaup ...... species that are NOT likely to be short-stopped by flooded grain. THAT is why the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative was a poor plan to keep migrating ducks out of the oil in SE Louisiana in 2010.
The thing is its not just ducks unlimited its people everywhere. They could care less about farming corn and rice. They put up a levee around a dry field plant a crop flood it and then bam totally legal. That's insane it should be completely illegal to flood standing corn in a obvious only killing ducks motive. How is it not illegal to flood a 'dry corn field' but you cant put corn in a 'wet field'. Whats the difference?
And where to start with 225Quackaddict?
Let's see .........

1) 'how come blue wing season was raised when the total population was -6% this year? ill tell you why, cause they know we are getting screwed, gotta give us something. yes i know larry reynolds you said that the extra 2 wouldn't hurt the population by whatever calculations you use which doesn't make any sense whatsoever!!! math don't lie, shoot more ducks population will decrease so it is a straight up tale!!'

Absolutely NOT true! We often shoot more ducks and then have more the next year in the breeding survey. It happened in 2011-2012. Why? Because harvest rates on ducks range from less than 2% to 12%. That means 88% to 98% of the duck population ARE NOT AFFECTED by hunting harvest. Do you understand that? The effect of hunter kill is dwarfed by the effect of breeding success due to habitat conditions on the breeding grounds.

For heaven's sake look at the duck population increase from 1994 to 1999 while our seasons went from 30/3 to 60/6 and our harvest tripled!

We have been trying to increase the bag limit on bluewinged teal for 10 years because the harvest rate on bluewings is 4.5% and their population goes up and down with breeding ground conditions. The reason the teal season bag limit was 4 is because when teal seasons were first implemented in 1965, the bag limit during the regular season was 4. We just never convinced the USFWS to increase it to 6 after the regular season bag limit went to 6 in 1997. We got it done this year, and the teal population was actually down 16% from last year, not 6%. It was still WAY above long-term averages, and the daily bag limit has NO effect on bluewing population size. According to our modeling efforts, we could have raised the teal-season bag limit to 10 per day or whatever it might take to get the harvest rate up to 9-10% with no problems at all.
More with 225QuackAddict
2) ' ldwf doesn't maintain our public land. they sure as hell get the money from our taxes. its probably all a lie they don't spend all that money here. guarantee you most of it goes to the feds and they spend it wherever.'

What tax money does LDWF get from you? I'll tell you what they get: they get your license fees and excise tax from the sale of guns and ammunition via the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson). NONE of it goes to the feds.

Not all of it is spent here. 10% of our basic hunting license fees are statutorily earmarked for 'the preservation and development of breeding grounds for migratory waterfowl' and has been/is used to leverage matching funds from Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl to do breeding habitat work in Saskatchewan, where a large portion of our ducks come from.

When was the last time your hunting license fees were increased? Do you even remember? But costs of everything involved in maintaining our public land hasn't stayed constant, and LDWF has acquired more public property through donations of Maurepas Swamp, Wham Brake, Bussey Brake, tracts adjacent to Joyce WMA, and others. So more land to maintain without an increased funding stream. You are absolutely right we are dragging when it comes to maintaining our WMAs. We have completed or in progress of doing work with NAWCA grants at Bayou Pierre, Russell Sage, Sherburne, Ouachita, Buckhorn, and Pointe-aux-Chenes WMAs, and the vast majority of that work is simply getting back to where we were.

Why the hell would we give any $$ to the feds!?
One more with 225QuackAddict
3) 'the amount of land maintained for the sport needs some limitations'

'if no standing season i believe it should be mandatory that the fields be emptied.'

'only so many fields per square mile if used for recreational hunting and if the people owning them have an issue it should become lottery on who gets a field that year!'

'there should only be so many safe haven areas per area and less of which privately owned in an are with a wildlife refuge.'

'if ice can't be broken in a manual matter you shouldn't be able to use a thawing machine to keep ponds open'

'what is to come of the whole sport if we allow this to continue?'

So do we advocate a centralized flyway-wide or nation-wide or even continental-wide control over waterfowl habitat on private lands? Really? Based on the fact that we aren't killing as many birds as satisfies us despite the fact that we kill more than any other state? To do that, you would need the cooperation and enforcement authority of the federal government, and last time I looked, those states you want to 'regulate' in this manner have the same number of Senators and the same or more Representatives that we do.

So how do you expect to accomplish this when we kill more ducks than any other state?

How do you honestly expect to be taken seriously?
Habitat vs Baiting
duckhunter7777 asked: 'How is it not illegal to flood a 'dry corn field' but you cant put corn in a 'wet field'. Whats the difference?'

There is a HUGE difference between growing a field of grain and dumping grain wherever you see fit.

When you grow a field of grain, you produce HABITAT. 1) The grain is finite, it is available to all species at all times, and when it runs out it can't be replenished whenever, however, and in whatever amounts. 2) The field provides not only grain food, but thermal shelter, protection from some predators, and substrate for invertebrates. 3)The grain exists where it is grown, and hunters have to hunt there; it is not placed in the most convenient location for hunters to kill birds.

Managing a moist-soil unit, or an impounded marsh, or a green-tree reservoir is no more 'natural' than growing a field of grain. We take water off, we use weirs to ARTIFICIALLY manipulate water levels to provide growth of submerged aquatic vegetation, we manipulate the ground mechanically or chemically to remove undesirable plants and stimulate growth of seed-producing annuals, we plant acorn-producing trees or other food-producing 'natural' plants in our green-tree reservoirs, then we flood or re-flood those food-plants, and we shoot ducks over them. Although it is as un-natural as growing a field of grain, it is called 'wildlife habitat management'.

THAT is why it is legal to grow a field of grain and flood it to hunt, but not legal to dump grain wherever you see fit and hunt over it.
Mr. Reynolds
IMO, you are in the wrong line of business, you need to be a politician. Enough said.
Some last thoughts
Some of you seem to think I'm against you, or I'm not listening, or I don't care about maintaining a waterfowl-hunting culture in our state, and nothing could be further from the truth. I certainly wouldn't have worked so hard to get this job or spent so much of my discretionary time participating in this discussion if that were the case. I hunt here too, almost exclusively.

But waterfowl are a cooperatively-managed continental resource, and we need perspective on where Louisiana fits in large-scale waterfowl conservation AND waterfowl hunting. That is what I'm attempting to provide in discussions like this where we seem to get so focused on what other hunters in other states are doing to prevent us from killing as many ducks as we think we are entitled to (I hate that word!).

I don't have all the answers. I don't know for sure where all the ducks are, why they aren't here, and who is responsible for that. So I'm certainly not going to blow smoke at you as if I do. But I do know that the answers to our deteriorating waterfowl hunting is NOT in trying to tell other hunters in other states what they can and can't do given the number of ducks we kill every year.

Lastly, this thread was started by Coot asking for comments regarding duck season dates, so I'm going to take off my LDWF shirt (it is 1:00 am and way past my bedtime) and give my personal comments.

With 60-day seasons, I don't care about season dates so long as they are between the first Saturday in November and the last Sunday in January, and I want the maximum number of weekends. Every year is different, so I don't care about moving the season a week one way or the other. If we have a split, it should be at least 12 days and include a weekend. I want the season open Thanksgiving week and over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Within our zone framework, I favor the traditional dates, which are the dates we have this season. However, I hunt almost exclusively in the coastal zone, so as a hunter, I would prefer no-zones/2 splits. (Of course, I DO NOT prefer that as a manager responsible for all hunters in all zones for reasons I've already explained above).
duck hunting
yes, we or all wrong all of us La. kill more duck but we or tell him we don't. We or all lie's my first 4 hunt at 2 and 3 45 duck last 3 hunt o.
You wouldn't vote for me .....
duk_huntiac said: 'IMO, you are in the wrong line of business, you need to be a politician. Enough said.'

I'm of the impression that you wouldn't vote for me, so why would you suggest I need to be a politician?

Don't worry, the insult isn't lost on me. :)
A lot of good comments here and this thread is certainly getting some attention. I don't have time to read it all now, but will later. I guess what is a better way to measure hunter success is not by how many ducks each state kills, but what is the average per hunter effort. Number of ducks killed in each state divided by the number of licensed duck hunters. If we kill more ducks than most states, do we have more hunters to do so? Do the northern states like Kansas have as many hunters as we do. If they did, then maybe you would see a higher harvest in some of these northern states. I bet the northern states have significantly less licensed duck hunters than we do.
I appreciate all of your hard work and time to reply to this thead. Thank You.

I also agree with your statement below as well,

'However, I hunt almost exclusively in the coastal zone, so as a hunter, I would prefer no-zones/2 splits. '

Is all about awareness so maybe if there are surveys, meetings etc conducted in the future again on topics such as season dates and zones, maybe more hunters will speak up and take time to email the appropiate people and participate in the surveys and meetings to have their voice heard.

Kind of like the ole' saying, 'If you didn't vote then don't bitch about your elected officials.'

Merry Christmas and Happy Hunting....
I totally agree with duk-huntiac's statement:

' mention the harvest data for Nov. 9th, just imagine if it would have opened the 23rd instead, it would have been better and quicker. We need to open later and hunt as late as possible, PERIOD!!!!!!!!!'

If I recall correctly, Mr. Reyonlds has stated more ducks are harvested at the beginning of the season than later in the season and more ducks are harvested in the first split opener than the second split opener. But, my arguement IS, if the season opened later i.e. Nov 16th or Nov 23rd, hunters would still bag more ducks than they would on Nov 9th and it would be a more enjoyable hunt and better action, hence we have more ducks in the state in mid to late November than we do in early Novemnber. The aerial surveys even indicate this. My personal data shows that ever since the season has been opening up in early November, our opening first split weekends are MUCH slower than when it use to open in later November and without a doubt our 2nd split opener has always been better than our 1st split opener over the last decade. This is why I will continue to push for the season to open in mid to late November and run to the last Sunday in January.
this thread is a good read! glad to see we have such passionate hunters!
Average per hunter effort
Using the harvest data found at: for selected Mississippi Flyway states during 2012-2013 season and including TX and CA to give us the 4 highest kill states (the last 4 in this list):

749,000 ducks killed.
9.6 ducks per hunter.
1.49 ducks per hunter-effort.

118,000 ducks killed.
9.4 ducks per hunter.
1.69 ducks per hunter-effort.

401,000 ducks killed.
15.3 ducks killed per hunter.
1.51 ducks killed per hunter-effort.

249,000 ducks killed.
16.5 ducks killed per hunter.
2.36 ducks killed per hunter effort.

445,000 ducks killed.
12.6 ducks killed per hunter.
2.08 ducks killed per hunter-effort.

1.33 million ducks killed.
23.1 ducks killed per hunter.
2.81 ducks killed per hunter-effort.

2.72 million ducks killed.
26.7 ducks per hunter.
3.01 ducks per hunter-effort.

Texas: (74-day season)
1.49 million ducks killed.
20.0 ducks per hunter.
2.90 ducks per hunter-effort.

California: (107-day season, bag limit of 7 per day)
1.59 million ducks killed.
30.6 ducks per hunter.
2.87 ducks per hunter-effort.

No matter how you slice it; despite all of our problems and negative trends; Louisiana remains a great place to kill a duck relative to the states many of us blame for our poor success.
where are the ducks being killed in Louisiana?
So glad Mr. Reynolds could lay this out for us:

2.72 million ducks killed.
26.7 ducks per hunter.
3.01 ducks per hunter-effort.

Where do i believe the ducks are being killed in Louisiana?

-Pass a loutre (Venice)
-Atchafalaya delta WMA
-southwestern Louisiana (Pecan Island, White lake area, various grain fields that allow management of pressure to have quality duck hunts)
-Catahoula lake
-northern Louisiana flooded timber (when there is water)
-If you are a rich man and can afford at least a couple hundred acres of quality duck habitat that allows management of hunting pressure.

You know many of these places don't fit the bill of the everyday duck hunter on a budget. I won't loose my life going to Venice for a duck, I can't afford a blind in western Louisiana for 5,000 a year (just for a blind), I won't get my ass shot at Catahoula lake for a duck, and I'm not a millionaire since these are probably many of the guys filling Louisiana's duck kill numbers. The guide services with 1,000s of acres to bring clients (filling the duck numbers). Fact is many common everyday men are not filling the numbers Mr. Reynolds lays out. Its smoke and mirrors. I'm tired of it. Mr. Reynolds, if you don't do something to help common everyday duck hunters that have to hunt the public lands with major habitat detetoriation your tone will only continue to get more snippy. You need to lobby to get us some help brother. Us little people with out a voice that is appreciated and understood to be ignorant can only do so much.
Check you hunting season dates
Coot made this point in a prior thread, and he makes it again here:

'My personal data shows that ever since the season has been opening up in early November, our opening first split weekends are MUCH slower than when it use to open in later November'

But it is either not correct or not a valid comparison.


Because since there has been a West Zone (1975, that's 39 seasons), the season has ALWAYS opened the first or second Saturday of November EXCEPT for 5 of the 6 30-day/3-duck seasons (1988-1992). Since 1985 (that's 29 seasons) the West or now Coastal Zone has ALWAYS opened on the second Saturday of November EXCEPT for those 5 years of the 30-day/3-duck seasons.

So there have only been 5 seasons in the last 39 where 'the season used to open in later November,' and that was only because we only had 30 days total to hunt with only 3-duck limits. I hope Coot's hunting was 'quicker' (as opposed to 'slower') during those later seasons; he had half the birds to kill.

Even the last 30-day season (1993) and the only 40-day season (1994), the West Zone opened on the second Saturday of November .... the same as we do now.

Consequently, West/Coastal Zone hunters do NOT have any experience hunting comparable seasons that opened 'earlier' or 'later' in November. Because of calendar adjustments, that second Saturday in November can range from Nov. 8 to the 14th.
Thanks again Larry
Larry, thank you for taking time to answer some of our questions and rants,some that are 'out of the box' thinking. But when many of us are seeing and experiencing such a poor season again, frustration can cause normal and logical brain response to disappear.
No I don't believe there is a conspiracy to make my duck hunting bad. But I do know that duck hunters will lie and bend the truth a little. Ask a hunter on public land where he killed his birds and I guarantee that he will do what I would do and not give a specific reply. Now will a duck hunter lie about the number of birds he killed that season? I say yes, because of something called 'EGO'. One time at the card check in station on the Pearl River, I heard some young hunters who apparently did not have a good hunt say they were still going to mark six ducks each on the card that was turned into the station. Now how many times does that happen, who knows.
What is happening now north of us is out of our control. The fact is that the ducks are staying where the food is available no matter how much hunting pressure or cold weather. In my opinion, the migration is being altered and as the age class changes the birds will not even know to go south to La. Anyone who thinks that the federal government should get more involved to help us needs to put the nightly news on and see that their hands are already full with real problems.
To answer Coot's question, I replied on the survey to have no zones in the state. This I feel would be better for the ducks and other hunters that rely on state public lands to hunt. As far as the season dates, I would hope that these decisions would be made based on realistic data and not politically motivated or even to appease the hunters.
Larry, I am glad that you pointed out again where the money for LW&F comes from to operate. The department can only do so much with what little is available. But I still think you deserve a raise!
Guys, remember we are all lucky to have a place to enjoy our sport. Be safe and happy hunting.
Common man is being squeezed
First, 3 of the 6 examples of where duckhunter_89 thinks ducks are being killed in this state are PUBLIC, and northern Louisiana flooded timber also includes public land. Any of us can hunt those areas. It does take dedicated equipment to hunt the major river deltas, and you need particular equipment if you are going to compete, but it is available to everyone.

But I think the major point being made, and it is being seen everywhere, is that HUNTERS are excluding other hunters for their own personal hunting quality and/or profit. With more disposable income, people within this state are doing what they can afford to maximize their own hunting quality .... and that includes attracting and holding more birds along with excluding other hunters.

Is that new? Is it wrong? Does that surprise anyone? It seems to surprise people in northern states, where leasing is really taking off. But we have seen it on southern wintering areas for decades.

You are exactly right; we have a responsibility to maintain our public hunting areas so that everybody of modest means has a place to hunt. Re-read my post above about NAWCA projects being done on WMAs in an attempt to do that with leveraged grant funds, because our budgets aren't sufficient to do it alone.
Argumentative, but appreciative
To MEV, Coot, and others, I appreciate the kind words, and you are welcome for whatever I can provide. I agree with jjoojj, that it is good to have a bunch of passionate duck-hunters, and we have no shortage of them here.

A guide at Doug's Hunting Lodge participates on a few internet waterfowl forums, and he uses a signature line that I try to remind myself of every so often: 'if you think I'm wrong; you might be right'
just one more thing............
Southeast Louisiana coastal marshes was not always in the WEST ZONE (or Coastal today) We used to be in the EAST ZONE and ALWAYS opened one week after the West Zone. I used to hunt the Lake Charles area on opening weekend then hunt the Reggio area the following EAST ZONE opening weekend. That is what Coot is referring to when he said we used to open later.
Nov 8th next year
I guess if it is the second weekend every year then it will be on the 8th next year.

LSU/Alabama game.
Less numbers and why? Man made factors!!!
Fist off, I to would like to thank Larry for doing his best to provide follow-up answers to the prior post.

My Opinion: The migration time frame has increased and we caused it. The result is smaller migratory groups with the largest coming later and later each year. It's for this reason I too agree the season should run the full month of January.

As for splits, it's wild thinking but hey why not put it out there since only 2% of the pop. is affected by hunting.

Two splits (do away with the naming teal season)

Split #1 Sept. Two weeks period/Three weekends. Normal limits on any duck except for blue wingers staying with the current set limit. (If it counts during current season it should count then if it can be harvested.)

Split #2 Open when ever and run until the last weekend in Jan.

Can the LDWF fix our lack of bird numbers? No

Can changes be made to the seasons or bag limits to make everyone feel all warm and fuzzy? Yes
Arkansas Hunting
I Graduated from The University of Arkansas @ Monticello. I'm more than familiar with both their flooded timber and field hunting.

I'm guessing that we can all agree that guiding for duck hunting as a supplemental income for farmers has increased over the past 30-40 years.

One practice I observed while hunting with a fellow fraternity brother on their family farm was a cooperative rest area with the neighboring farmer. He to had just started a guide service. Each farmer would give up 75-100 acres of flooded field to create a joined 200 acre rest area for the birds. They only guided few days out of the week.

The idea behind the co-op was that it would hold a huntable number of birds. This would enable them to take a limit pretty much each and every guided hunt. (Not fast but over a period of a few hours).

A birds DNA tells them to fly south. They have learned from the time they were little that the central flyway's place to be was the LA coast.

This has been this way for hundreds of years. Why can't this be reprogrammed? What if the need to survive doesn't require them to go say another farther south than SE Arkansas? What change or affect could this have on migration and our future hunting season?

What happens if a first year hatchling comes down following his mother and others and learns SE Arkansas is the place to be.
Next year that duck teaches it's hatchlings the same and so on. Is the Migration pattern changed? Can it be affected?

Larry? Any research be done in this area?

Way back when conditions seem to dictate the migration. What change in migration has been figured into the equation for man made modifications to the conditions? (Heated ponds, supplemental feeding, resting ponds like co-op's and NWR......
Cenla hunting
Nature seems takes the path of least resistance to survive. We block a river or stream and nature simply finds a different route.

FACT:(Per Larry) The number of Licensed body hunters have increased from the past to the present. The problem is more and more hunters are hunting only weekend openers and a cold front or two.

My family and several others grew up hunting Saline and Catahoula Lakes. In order to maximize our overall hunting experience we've now adopted the above and started deer hunting instead of duck hunting in the mornings.

Don't get me wrong I love a pretty clear blue sky as much as the other guy. I just can't sit two or three hours on non-opening days and not see a duck.

Cheers to the good o'l day. Think I'll ask Santa for a Greenhead this year. LOL

Merry Christmas to all!!!!!
This is Silly
Everyone loves to talk about the good old days and how great it was, and there is no doubting that plenty of birds have been killed in the past and will continue to be killed in the future (as long as people like LR and other dedicated individuals continue to devote their life to the study of waterfowl.)

I don't think anyone would disagree that waterfowl migration patterns are changing but I would love for someone to tell me when migration patterns of waterfowl were consistent over a 5-10 year period, heck over a 1-3 year period even. They are wild animals that will adapt in order to thrive.

Looking at Larry's number's for average hunter take (overall in a season & per effort) I have been very fortunate over the last 20+ years because I have been consistently above average just about every year since I first started hunting with my dad back in the 3 duck days (91-92). 95% of the success that I have achieved over the years is a direct result of the experiences noted during many days spent hunting with my dad. He taught me early on the key to successful duck hunting is you have to be where the ducks want to be. I know it sounds simple but day in and day out I see people who do not follow this basic principle. I grew up exclusively hunting a large WMA/Refuge and now i am fortunate to have access to a couple of private leases. I spent opening weekend of the 2nd split hunting this same refuge despite the fact that the private lease produced limits consistintly through the 1st split. The difference between a successfull hunt and a goose egg on both private and public land could be something as small as being located 150-200yds off where they want to be,a wind change, or poor cover.

When we have a year like this year, with an above average hatch and no storms in Louisiana and you are disapointed in the number of ducks you are killing there is no one to blame but yourself. We are blessed to live in LA with access to 2 of the most productive delta's in the country and other WMA's and Refuges across the state that hold multitudes of ducks. If you aren't killing ducks you need to quit b**ching and blaming other people and take a look at yourself and how you are hunting. (I also learned personal accountability from my father.)

Duck patterns will always change, just like our coast, the weather, and the tides will continue to change. Looking back at journals and remembering the good old days is great but there are plenty of opportunities on both public and private land for people to have great hunts if they are willing to put in the effort to scout and figure out where the birds want to be.

Thanks Larry R, and others like you who fight the good fight every day.
Original Post
Everyones opinion of the best season dates is relative to their personal success/experience....

I have only been involved in duck hunting for about six years so there is no nostalgia of the good ole days for me. But what I do have is about five very succefull openers over the last six years. (the off year being a non-existence of scouting) The last two years I've enjoyed a successfull hunt for the youth weekend as well which is even earlier.
In my opinion we should go with a longer split/ or two split season giving us the early opener and later close. If the reasoning behind wanting a later opener is to kill a limit in 30 minutes as opposed to 2 hours, I can't get behind that.
As for adopting Fri-Sun type of season dates, I think that with the hunting pressure that our productive public lands have that would be a nightmare. My most enjoyeable, even if not productive, hunts come on weekdays when the pressure at the Wax is down.

Short Stopping...
Whatever is best for waterfowl is best for waterfowl hunting. As long as there are good breeding numbers we will continue to enjoy a huntable number of birds, even if some birds short stop us. Our habitate is vibrant and flurishing at the moment but is ultimatley vulnerable to storms and land loss. If we don't address our loss of wetlands the birds will be short stopping due to neccessity instead of $$.

Where would you rather hunt/fish over LA?
We have amazing oppurtunities at public lands to hunt. With a little effort you can find public lands near you, regardless of where you live in this state, and hunt successfully.

Mr Reynolds
Thank You. I for one appreciate that we have a representative in your position who is willing to take the time to participate in this discussion. Answering questions/accusations on your personal time is definitly above the call of duty and rare these days. You have handled this forum better than I would have, for sure.
I guess I'd vote for ya!
Hunting Heritage
What is our hunting heritage? Is is stacking ducks or is it the total experience?
As long as there are ducks hatching in the north there will be ducks flying south. As long as there are ducks flying south there will be ducks flying all the way down to us. As long as there are ducks in LA, we will hunt them.
Even if we don't enjoy the numbers that we have in the past our heritage is at 0 risk. The non-sportman hunters that we are concerned about would significantly decrease with the numbers of birds thus leaving the true sportsmen out there to carry on the legacy.
Duck Harvest Numbers?
Just wondering how they come up with statistics on how many ducks are killed in Louisiana or any other state. I know it is not an exact science but the last three times i was suppose to fill out a hip report when purchasing a license the person at Academy did it for me. The last time I complained to a manager and they said that is the way they always do it. I said I will not buy a license from them anymore, she didn't care. Obviously, this is not correct data. I keep numbers for the last 30 years and they are going down drastically with an occasional uptick here and there but overall way way down, combined with seeing fewer and fewer birds each year. Killing is not important to me but seeing birds is. The majority of hunters share the same experience as I do. Therefore, it is only logical that the overall hunting experience, ducks killed and seeing birds is on the downturn. NUMBERS DO LIE. I simply do not believe the overall harvest numbers but then again don't have a solution on how to improve them. Someone correct me if I am wrong but the Federal Government is the one who complies the Harvest numbers for each state and we all know how well this country is run, especially when it comes to numbers........................ Just my two cents (which I am sure the Feds have already spent)
duck hunting success and the experience
I am totally aware that having a successful duck hunt depends on many factors. Those factors include concealment & blind placement relative to wind conditions for that day (if any wind), decoy setup and placement, whether you are in the fly zone that the birds are using on a regular basis, etc. Even if you aren't seeing any birds from your blind, its possible there are many in the area you are hunting, just not flying within your view. I've already witnessed this a couple of times this season. I saw birds fly everywhere and not come to our pond and decoys. We've also done pretty good for the day and some hunters around us not fire a shot. As i've said before, it depends on many things. The distinction comes when there are just no birds to be hunted. This is the very thing that has many people upset. Especially, especially, especially (don't think i can say that word enough times), when i get first hand reports of many many birds to our north. I guess i could drive at least 3 hrs to get there and go hunt, but i have 35,000 acres of WMA in my back yard going to waste so to speak. As far as those kill statistics, i would bet my neck on a block that is skewed. I hardly ever remember the exact amount of birds i killed for a HIP report as i don't keep a log (guess I should). You think every hunter reporting is keeping a! That's what i mean. Yes, 3 of the areas i mentioned earlier are public but you better have your **** together before you start hunting the deltas, i know i've seen how bad the conditions can get. Aw well happy hunting.
As quoted by Reynolds: 'Grays and blue winged teal NOT likely to be short stopped by flooded grain .......'
You can't be serious? One of my guides just recently hunted in an Arkansas ricefield. Guess what they got? A 3 man limit of GADWALL! The outfitter said all the mallard purist up there are complaining about TOO MANY GADWALL in the last few years! Imagine that!

Also, southwest Louisiana ricefields sure attract blue winged teal!

Gadwall may not have been likely to stop at a ricefield years ago but they sure do now. Look what happen to the snow/blue goose. Their preferred historical habitat were the Louisiana and Texas coastal marshes until ricefields came into play years and years ago.
Arkansas is soon going to be known as the gadwall capital of the south. I've talked to countless people who hunt or own property in Arkansas who say gadwall in the past were largely gone by mid-December now they stop in Arkansas don't leave. A customer of mine has a lease in Stuttgart. They are increasingly unhappy because their mallard holes have become gray duck holes. His quote to me is 'this isn't what you come to Stuttgart for.' Times are changing quickly. We can debate about splits and openings which is important but the many contributing factors to lack of ducks all boil down to LAND LOSS. Simple math..less places to go down here every year vs. more and more places to go north of us.
To Duck hunter 89
Quote: Even if you aren't seeing any birds from your blind, its possible there are MANY in the area you are hunting, just not flying within your view. I've already witnessed this a couple of times this season. I saw birds fly everywhere and not come to our pond and decoys. We've also done pretty good for the day and some hunters around us not fire a shot.

So you agree they do have birds, or as you put it MANY around correct? Birds have wings and are capable of moving great distances, for consistent hunting without breaking the bank you have to be flexible and willing to travel. I can guarantee you I am not one of the millionaires you or someone else mentioned above that is filling out the harvest #'s. I live on a very tight budget and look forward to these 60 days all year round. I am guilty of getting frustrated after a bad hunt but the difference between you and me is I don't try to place blame on other people/things that I have no control over. I evaluate what went wrong/right and try to adjust for next time.

Quote: I get first hand reports of many many birds to our north. I guess i could drive at least 3 hrs to get there and go hunt, but i have 35,000 acres of WMA in my back yard going to waste so to speak

That goes back to my original point of you have to be where the ducks want to be. I travel well over 4 hours (south) to hunt a particular management area and have driven much further chasing ducks. You complain about people killing ducks up north and don't want to take a 3hr car ride to hunt them? Sounds like you are more angry that the birds are not in 'your back yard.' I think anyone who consistently kills solid numbers of ducks will tell you that it takes more than a little bit of effort.

Quote: As far as those kill statistics, i would bet my neck on a block that is skewed. I hardly ever remember the exact amount of birds i killed for a HIP report as i don't keep a log (guess I should)

Fact: Your answers to these questions are not used to compile harvest estimates, but are simply used to identify what types of birds you usually hunt.

Quote: 3 of the areas i mentioned earlier are public but you better have your **** together before you start hunting the deltas, i know i've seen how bad the conditions can get.

I will concede that the delta's are a tough place to hunt but duck hunting in general is inherently dangerous. You have guns in tight quarters, colder than average temps, and it is a sport that typically takes place around water. No matter where you hunt, duck hunting carries more risk then a lot of other outdoor activities so you better have your **** together every time you go out or bad things will happen, be it in a frosty blind, a boat, or a 4wheeler.
My bread and butter duck and most everyone in southeast Louisiana is the grey duck. This year that bird is down in my area. In a normal year they make up 75 percent of my bag. And provide limits day in day out. This year has not been the case. If the greys get here consistently the complaining will turn to praise.

Those guys to the north have it easy. Imagine if our bag was supplemented with mallards which is the most populous duck in North America and geese. We are already uphill. Put a dent in gadwall and we're left with subpar hunting.

I've had one great hunt this year, a few good ones and quite a few terrible hunts. The greys cooperated on the better ones. My concern is if they stop staying here. This is or was their destination. If that changes we're a screwed. (The greys).
Hands down this is the worst season where I hunt we have had in the last decade by far. If it be any worse you wouldn't need to bring a gun !literally spots I run through to get to hunting areas that usually have plenty ducks are virtually empty.
That's it!
Louisiana Marsh Guide Service straightened me out with: 'Southeast Louisiana coastal marshes was not always in the WEST ZONE'

You are absolutely right!...... and I totally forgot that!

It was 2001 when the marshes East of Terrebonne Parish got moved from the East Zone, with it's later seasons, to the West Zone with it's earlier seasons. Anybody hunting in that area, like Coot probably, does indeed have years to compare earlier with later opening dates.
How are the harvest data generated?
Kraemer asked: Just wondering how they come up with statistics on how many ducks are killed in Louisiana or any other state. I know it is not an exact science but the last three times i was suppose to fill out a hip report when purchasing a license the person at Academy did it for me. The last time I complained to a manager and they said that is the way they always do it. I said I will not buy a license from them anymore, she didn't care. Obviously, this is not correct data.'

First let me say this very clear .... THE HIP REGISTRATION QUESTIONS ARE NOT THE HARVEST DATA. When you get your HIP certification, the questions they are supposed to ask you ARE NOT THE HARVEST DATA.

They can't possibly be the harvest data. Why?

The harvest data from last year were published in July, but very few hunters have purchased their hunting licenses by July. So there is no way that the harvest data can come from those questions when you haven't bought your licenses by the time they are published.

Indeed, those questions are used to 'stratify' hunters into 'high', 'medium', and 'low' kill categories before a sample of hunters is selected to receive the harvest survey. A stratified random sample allows us to get a better harvest estimate with the same number of samples compared to a completely random sample All they record when you tell them how many ducks, geese, doves, woodcock, etc. you killed last year is 0, 1-10, or >10 to represent the 3 kill groups.

Names and addresses of all HIP registrants are then sent to the USFWS every 2 weeks, and they select a sample of 2% of the 'low' kill group, 3% of the 'medium' kill group, and 5% of the 'high' kill group and send them a 'diary' to record all of their hunts and how many ducks they kill. The idea is they select hunters throughout the license-buying period so it isn't more than 3 weeks from the time you buy your license until you know you are selected for the survey, thus you don't have rely so much on memory. This is called the 'Questionnaire Survey'.

From those hunters who participated in the survey last year and reported killing at least 1 duck, another sample is selected this year, and those hunters are asked to send in a wing from every duck they kill and a tail from every goose. This is called the 'Parts Survey'.

From the Questionnaire survey, we estimate the number of active hunters, number of ducks killed, and days hunted. From the Parts survey, we estimate the species composition, age-ratio, and sex-ratio of the kill. Taken together, they provide the harvest data I've cited.
What if they don't ask the questions?
So what happens when the clerk does not ask you the HIP registration questions? What they have done is answered 'no' to the first questions of 'did you hunt migratory birds last year?' Consequently, you get put in the 0 or 'low-kill' group. It means that our sample goes from a stratified random to more like a simple random sample. That does not affect the actual harvest estimate, but it does affect the confidence level, or the precision of the estimate.

One of the checks to make sure the stratification is working in the face of all the complaints I hear about clerks not asking the questions, is to check to see the harvest reported by people in the 3 groups. What we find is that the 'low' group averages about 2-5 ducks per hunter, the 'medium' group averages about 7-12 ducks per hunter, and the 'high' group averages about 30-35 duck per hunter. So despite all the reported problems, the stratification seems to work.

Let's see if I can figure out how to load some photos ......
Ok so I have read all of these posts and the answer is simple. You want more ducks....Then decrease the limits back to 3 or 4 ducks ! My best hunting was back in the early 90s when we had the low limits. We did not have all the Duck Dynasty wantabes hunting then. The kill would be less thus more ducks and less hunters to share the marsh with. My guess is that this will not be too popular. But it is common sense, Look what the 5 fish redfish limit and gillnet restrictions have done for the redfish. Does anyone else have this thought. MR. Renyalds ?
If I'm going to short-stop a gadwall
Then I'm going to do it with a forested wetland or a reservoir with lots of submerged aquatic vegetation, not a flooded grain field. Put the 2 in proximity, and you're going to kill some gadwalls in the fields.

But maybe things are changing. Do y'all kill a bunch of gadwalls full of rice, corn, or soybeans?

I wouldn't know how to short-stop a bluewing. They migrate away from perfectly good habitat in August/September, and fly past LOADS of food-rich habitats on their way here.
LR 1 question about the survey
Could the abundance of submerged aquatics and other feed spread throughout the coastal zone be a possible reason for the lower then average counts? I know that just about every pothole and canal bank in the areas I hunt (delacroixe, reggio) are covered up with food. This allows the birds to spread out into smaller groups along canals, in small pockets, and tiny potholes. I have never seen the area from the air so I could be way off base but could there be more birds here but not concentrated in the bigger open areas.

I was fortunate to have a very successful 1st split on gadwalls but I just like most on here haven't seen birds in the air or flocked up like usual. My best success comes from fishermen riding around jumping small flocks. My logs and results definitely show birds are down, do you think they may be spread out more then usual (complete opposite of last year.)
Lower limits mean more satisfaction
fishnhuntdude suggests: 'Ok so I have read all of these posts and the answer is simple. You want more ducks....Then decrease the limits back to 3 or 4 ducks ! My best hunting was back in the early 90s when we had the low limits.'

Well ..... I don't think that would lead to more ducks, but it might lead to fewer hunters, less hunting pressure, and more satisfied hunters.

There was a great comment in a report about teal hunting success this year at White Lake WCA that went something like:

'The hunting success was poorer this year. The past few years we have averaged about 3.6 teal per hunter (on a 4-bird limit) which is a harvest rate of 90%. This year we averaged 4.5 teal per hunter which on a 6-bird limit is a harvest rate of only 75%'

OK ..... we killed 0.9 MORE teal per hunter, but because the limit was 6 instead of 4, the hunting success was POORER. Sounds like lowering the limit is a way to get better hunting success and thus more satisfied hunters?

Actually, there is quite a bit of data that suggests that is true. That a lower bag limit reduces expectations, makes it easier to attain a 'limit', and results in higher satisfaction.

However, it doesn't generate more birds.
Affect of food distribution on survey counts
The only way that the excellent food conditions along the coast allowing the birds to spread out would affect the survey results is if the survey lines were in the best habitat.

If the survey lines were in the best habitat during average years, then birds would be clumped along the lines. In good food years, birds would not have to clump along the lines and counts would decline on the survey even though there would still be the same number of birds.

To avoid that well-known bias, our lines are systematically placed. In other words our first line is very near the Texas border on the edge of Saline Lake. Then north-south lines were placed every 7.5 miles in SW Louisiana and every 15 miles in SE Louisiana without regard to habitat type, quality, or anything else. Those lines are a systematic random sample of existing habitat. Some of them run through lousy habitat, some through excellent habitat. When habitat conditions change, the probability that birds would move off of transect lines is the same as the probability that they would move on to transect lines.

Given equal population sizes, when birds are clumped we see ducks in larger numbers but on fewer lines. When birds are spread out, we see lower numbers but more lines have ducks. The end result is the same estimate.

Of course, there is always the possibility that by random chance we hit or miss big bunches of ducks and generate an estimate that is not representative of the population. The survey is designed to minimize that possibility while still maintaining a manageable number of flight lines.
skewing the facts....
I think what the guy was saying is that when the limit was lower and less insanely filled marshes with hunters.....he 'overall' killed more birds for the season. If i go out there and kill 3 birds a day every day of the week.....its better than my 2 or 3 days per week at 1 or 2 birds each day. I remember hunting during the days of lower limits and we definitely killed more birds for the season than we are these days. I don't know how much satisfaction can come from only killing 3 ducks a day but why do you want to put it in those terms. I wish we would quit wording things to improve upon justifying our state of affairs these days. This may be going out on a limb.....but if we outlawed all duck hunting for a few years......I wonder how many ducks we would see then when seasons were reopened? Exactly!
drought changing migrations?
I've been hunting ducks on the miss. river since the mid-60's. About 8 yrs. ago we entered a severe drought. We had some fantastic hunting all around us in tensas parish, then everything dried up. For 2 yrs. I hardly saw a duck. I deer hunted in tennis shoes and still to this day, even after the wettest and coolest year I can remember, I can walk across our cypress brakes in tennis shoes and I've only seen a couple wooducks. A few years back they tried to boost Canada geese numbers by raising them in pens in the south, then releasing them. But they didn't migrate and they have to have resident geese seasons. I'm afraid this drought has affected duck migration the same way. My friend says east carroll has plenty ducks, but tensas is empty, but why would they come when the wwods are dry? Many thanks to Mr. Reynolds for his info, definitely deserves overtime pay.
Nobody is skewing any facts
We can go back and look at the same harvest data that has been cited here and see that we killed FAR fewer ducks during the 30/3 seasons than we do now, and FAR fewer ducks per hunter over the course of the season.

Feel free to use the Harvest Trends tool at: and see for yourself.

I hunted every one of the 30/3 seasons here in Louisiana and had excellent hunting at Catahoula Lake, Atchafalaya Delta WMA, Sabine NWR, Sherburne WMA, and Pomme-de-Terre WMA. I was very satisfied, and happy with my success. But I didn't kill anywhere near as many birds as I have since then because of the longer season and larger limit. The hunting has indeed been tougher because of warier birds and more competition.

Of course, smaller limits have always been associated with shorter seasons, and conventional wisdom is that 'days kill ducks, not limits. Because most hunters do not kill a limit, reducing the limit doesn't affect them; but reducing the season length affects everyone. Consequently, I'm not sure how big an effect reducing the limit from 6 to 4 would have. It would probably have the most effect in a state like ours.
duckhunter 89
So you are suggesting they cancel the season for a few years and re-build population? lol
listen, I'm pretty confident that we would have the same amount of ducks down here right now if we were only allowed 3 per person or no season at all.
survey data
I know LA as a state may kill more birds than any other except CA, But based on what I'm seeing and being told by other hunters something is not right with the duck migrations coming into this state. The numbers in some cases might look like its all ok and hunky dory, but my experience in the field tells me other wise. And the statements here by everyone else just confirms what I'm seeing and experiencing. There Simply are not the numbers in the state that should be here.

Now I spent just a short time on LDWF looking at logged surveys and if you look at the numbers then what I'm seeing so far is a very very scary trend in this state.

Here are two quotes from the last two November surveys for 2012 and 2013.


' The estimate of 1.02 million ducks from this survey is about 30% lower than both last year’s November estimate of 1.46 million and the most recent 5-year average of 1.44 million. It is just half the long-term November average of 2.04 million and is the second lowest November survey behind the 2008 estimate of 958,000 since this survey began in 1969 '


'The estimated 1.46 million ducks on this survey is 20% lower than last November’s estimate of 1.84

million, about the same as the most recent 5-year average of 1.47 million, and 27% below the longtermaverage of 2.0 million'.

Thats basically a 50% decrease in duck populations in two years for november. Why? What is changing? Where are they going? Why did this not send up red flags?

What made the 2008 survey so bad and does it compare to this year in some way?

Also here are some more number for December surveys from 2011-2013.

2011 SW LA SE LA Totals LA

1.093mil 1.1mil 2.423mil

2012 1.195mil 627k 2.061mi

2013 1.202mil 679k 1.954mil

That all adds up to me that duck populations in LA, Especially SE LA are dropping drastically or at the very least shifting to other areas of the state. So duck populations are falling at alarming rates while duck hunters are more than twice what they were in the last 10yrs.

From my experience with biostatistics just looking at the rough numbers there would seem to be a statistical varience showing either a loss of duck population, a shift in migration,or both.

Has anyone done any statistical analysis of the data that would research these patterns? Are there any plans to follow up on this data with more studies?

Another thing to note is that for the studies I listed in this post the one with the least amount of ducks is the first one in 5yrs that did not have a major storm system hit SE LA but had the fewest total ducks.
Ducks not where I hunt
This season is positively the worst for me I have ever seen. This week I have actually seen NO ducks on the Pearl River Area and NO ducks on the Manchac Area. I have moved around to find birds and with binoculars have not seen a single bird resting or flying. They are not sitting somewhere else like some have suggested but they just are not in the area. I have hunted these areas since they opened as public areas and have never seen it this bad. The feed is there but the birds are not. Other areas I hunted are almost as bad. Something is very wrong and I fear the future will duplicate this again.
I have said in other post that for me it is not about killing limits anymore. I enjoy the whole experience starting with the pre-season preparation and the scouting. But when you are out there 6 to 8 hours and do not see anything flying or hear any shooting, it can be frustrating.
I talked to a fellow hunter who also hunts in Texas where he has access to several thousand flooded acres with beans and millet. In the past they always did very good out there but this year he said it is horrible. So this is not just a SE La. problem.
Any other duck hunters who have ducks to hunt are fortunate. Count your blessings and enjoy it because it may not last.
Happy and safe hunting.
The answer is SHORT STOPPING! Plain and simple. Unless they have a drought in Arkansas and Missouri we will never have the numbers we once had.
Witnessed that first hand the week of December 9 while hunting south of Stuuttgart. And yes gadwall feeding IN THE RICEFIELDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The snow/blue goose was never a grain field bird either until the thousands of acres of rice and soybean fields sprung up north of us.
The old Louisiana Conservation magazine states this in 1970 when they noticed a steep decline of light geese in the state.
I agree but...
Yes I believe we all are aware of the agricultural changes/manipulations north of us that are a major factor causing shortstopping. The duck count in La. this year again showed another reduction of birds down here. But as Larry R stated, La. still kills more birds than any other state. He said that most of the birds in this state are killed in the SW part of the state. Why is the SW area better now than when we also in the past did very well in the SE? Why have the birds totally left or not showed up in the usual numbers in the SE area? When I scouted the areas I hunt in the SE several times before the season opened, I knew we were in trouble because of the lack of birds[and I didn't run them away with my mud boat]. We all realize that any season could be different from the last but now every year seems to be getting worst in the SE. Sure I know that there are land losses caused by past storms but the marshes in the SE area this year are now full of feed. Did the ducks remember that last year there was no feed there? I don't know but doubt it.
The statistics show that we kill more birds than other states butanyone who has hunted in the SE area for awhile will tell you that this is a trend.
Now, some will say to stop crying, put in more effort, go where the ducks are and be more flexible. That's BS. If your lucky enough to be hunting in a area were there are ducks then yes changing hunting tactics will help. Been there done that. But if the birds are not here at all I don't care what you do, it won't matter. If everyone in the SE hunting on public land started hunting in the SW then the hunting areas there would be more overcrowded and unsafe.
If you are hunting on private or public land and killing ducks then your fortunate and I am glad for you. Be safe and good hunting.
IM GLAD IT CAUGHT YOUR ATTENTION! that was the point. No one believes you are against us. We just want answers. I hear so many stories but them days are over. Ultimately ,MR REYNOLDS, if they will allow hunters up north to alter migration to these extremes change our seasons!!! they show up in february!!
did you read it closely?!?
I clearly stated the things i said would be OUTLANDISH!!!! Which , they were!!!! Also, i am completely for the raising of the licenses ,100%! they just put in the bill to raise it pretty recently. you took me seriously as noted by the three very descriptive responses. i do appreciate the things you do for us and yes, some of my comments were out of stupidity and anger. its quite obvious that the money and time spent on ducks are focused up north. they're doing a great job of keeping them up there. So MR REYNOLDS what are we to do then? Tell me !!
225Quackaddict: The birds don't wait until February to show up! The reason you see lots of birds in that month is because THERE IS NO HUNTING PRESSURE!
In good seasons and bad I bag more ducks in November than any other month. True, I would like the youth season to open the very first weekend in November THEN wait 2 weeks for the regular season to open.
Just a thought. More time for things to settle down.
Here is something interesting:
I researched some surveys from 1966-67. 1966 is the year I started duck hunting.
The survey was done on the Pass a Loutre WMA.
For the month of NOVEMBER : Gadwall 165,000.
For the month of DECEMBER : Gadwall 76,000.
For the month of JANUARY : Gadwall 120,000.

November had the highest population of gadwall.
Would like to see a more recent survey on that area so we can compare then with now.
How about a Feb. survey on gadwall.
first thanks to coot for starting this. and also to Larry R for his respouses and imfo. I grew up duck hunting in the swamp on the east side of lake maurepas ,in the late 70s early 80s.when limmits of greeenheads was a daily thing.YES things have changed sense then.1 no more rice fields in and around madisonville no more soy bean fields in the area all sugercane now. The swamp is in bad shape no open water. Could go on forever. But I still try to teach the next set of yongins The art of waterfowl hunting.As I know that some of ya'll do the same.Thaks again guys this was a very good read.
Louisiana Marsh Guide Service, really??
Researching surveys from 1966-69??? What is this 3 year span going to tell you about future migrations in this millennium? I haven't heard of anyone disputing the fact that migration patterns are constantly changing. Your biggest gripe in previous comments is with short stopping, yet you mention in your last post that you want the season to open 1 week later which is the original point of this entire thread. Why don't you go back and try to research the affect opening 1 week earlier or later has made from 1966-2013 on a yearly basis. My 20+ years of experience, my fathers 40+ years, and many others that I hunt with in the coastal zone have backed up LR's statistics. Just about every year we kill more birds early in the season rather then later. Especially during years where we have marginal/average feed and heavy pressure. There is no way to accurately forecast the migration based on so many different factors that are known and still unknown about a mass movement of wild animals. To think that a 1 or 2 week difference is affecting your overall season year in and year out is flat out ridiculous. I personally think that the abundance of feed this year and the possibility of reduced pressure later in the year may lead to a stronger then average 2nd split but this is completely an opinion based on nothing but personal experience and out of the box thinking.

As far as short stopping, I think most including myself feel that the shift in agricultural practices up and down the flyway is affecting the overall numbers making it down to southern LA. This is a debate that has been going on for years and will not and I believe should not be settled by a few posters on the internet. I firmly believe that people in this country have a right to do what they want with the land they own as long as they are abiding by the laws of the federal migratory game act and state laws that have proven successful in increasing the waterfowl population as a whole. If I was a land owner north of us (which I am not and have no interest in pursuing because LA has without a doubt the best concentration of fish and game a person could possibly want to pursue 365 days a year) I would have a serious issue with the Federal government telling me what I can/can't do on my land especially practices that have proven to benefit total waterfowl populations which harvest numbers have shown benefit everyone up and down the flyway. Personally I, like a lot of people had there best year in ten 2 years ago, this year so far is keeping pace and is on track to surpass my averages for ducks (quality) per hunter effort over 5.67 on 12 total hunts split between public and private land. My season total will probably be lower because just like the WF migration my life and priorities change and I realize that basing a good season on total ducks killed is fighting a loosing battle. The storms last year that wiped out all the feed in SELA really helped put it in prospective for me, one year later the entire landscape recovered stronger then I have seen it in years.

To previous posters saying I and others seeing the same success are fortunate and should appreciate it because it won't last, I can promise you I do appreciate every minute of it, not just the time in the blind. I truly enjoy watching my dog work, time spent scouting, and actually shooting a shotgun throughout the offseason just to be ready for these 60 days. I have spent entire seasons hunting SELA, NELA, SWLA, and CENLA, some years were great and some were awful but I was fortunate to make great memories every year.

To the yahoo saying we need to close the season for a few years, how about you stop hunting first.

I truly feel that anyone who's biggest issue is not killing enough ducks or not killing them as quick as they would like are minor issues compared with the major issues that I feel our country will be faced with in the coming years.

One friend referred to this thread as the essence of W.P.P's. I know it is more then that, obviously everyone who has contributed to this thread is passionate about waterfowl and wants to create the best opportunity for their own success which will hopefully lead to the overall success of all hunters.
Number of Hunters:
Taking the data that Larry posted, this is how many licensed hunters there are in each state. I find it interesting to show how popular duck hunting is in LA.

Minnesota: 78,020 hunters

Iowa: 12,554

Illinois: 26,209

Tennessee: 15,090

Missouri: 35,318

Arkansas: 57,576

Louisiana: 101,872

Texas: 74,500

California: 51,960

For comparison purposes, LA is the only state with over 100,000 duck hunters with a harvest over 2 million ducks per year but it is b/c we have so many hunters, however if Ark, TX and CA had at least 100,000 hunters then these states would exceed a 2 million duck harvest as well and CA would actually exceed 3 million (100,000 x 30.6 ducks per hunter effort). Some of the northern states have very low numbers of ducks killed just b/c they do not have the large number of hunters as we do. Many hunters in these northern states are big game hunters and big game leases cost more than duck leases. Just saying....
great thread....
Wow, so this must go down in history as one of the most replied to waterfowl threads on this site ever.... Lots of good comments by passionate hunters....

Larry how long are we locked into the current frame work of 3 zones with the current season dates? Is it 2 or 3 more years?

Anyway, the great thing about this country is being able to voice our opinion. When the existing framework comes near to an end and the LDWF proposes a new framework to the FEDS, PLEASE speak up and voice your opinion as in this thread. I still stand my ground and want to see the season open later and run to the last Sunday in January and zones don't matter to me. I would rather see no zones and just a state wide season.

One important note that I will continue to harp on is if the season opened the 2nd or preferably the 3rd weekend of November, then the early migrating ducks have nearly 3 weeks to rest once they get to LA before the season opens, hence opening weekends of the first split will be fast and furious for most. Many of our ducks that we shoot in the opener of the first split arrive at the end of October with the full moon and in early November. They really have no time to rest before the season opens. Another note is if ARK's season doesn't open until the 3rd weekend of November then the ducks will stop in ARK and stay there until they are pressured to move further south. I really think are opening dates of the 1st split should closely resemble what ARK is doing since ducks migrate north and south and not so much west and east.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hunting...
Bighead, did you hunt St. John HC, Tatoon's? Coot, whereabouts did you hunt back there? That was legendary back in the day, wasn't it? Never saw so many ducks in one place in my life. We used to hunt Tatoon's in the tall cypress, and sometimes come in from Hwy. 51 down the Sawmill Run and hunt Sarpy land, thanks to Mark Trepagnier. A surreal place to hunt, for sure. If you didn't have black water, then it was solid duckweed.You'd have a hard time finding anything now other than solid salvinnia or flotant. Afternoon hunts, simply find some feathers on the water and hunt there, guaranteed! Coming in or leaving in the dark was a trip, navigating through the cypress with no left or right bank, only by remembering odd looking trees and other landmarks could you find your way. No Google Earth, no GPS, Hell, no cell phone, either. Took a solid 45 minutes to godevil in, hauling ass. We woulda died back there had something happened!
But I do thank God I have some wonderful memories of great hunts (when I say great, I include many hunts where we killed less than limits, and some of the most gorgeous hunting a man could hope for, too).
Duck hunter 89
You.make these generalized statements and claim they are facts. The 'out of the box' ideas you are throwing out are just plain ridiculous. Grouping all duck hunters into 2 groups public/private is ignorant at best. As stated earlier I hunt both public and private land throughout the season and have had equal success doing both. My opinion's are not just shaped by statistics and surveys, but mainly from my time spent on the water hunting and scouting. This year I have made 12 hunts with 28 hunters and have harvested 160 ducks. This breaks down to a 5.7 average per hunter effort. 4 hunts on public land 8 on leases. My better hunts were on public land that was heavily pressured. I know others who are having equal or above average success hunting across the state. A lot of these guys are like me and hunt both public and private. You make claims yet have nothing to back them up. You have thrown out ridiculous ideas that have been refuted over and over (by far the most ridiculous is closing the season for a few years, it was stated earlier in the thread that revenue for habitat is paid for by hunters. No hunters = no $.). What else do you propose to do to increase success besides federal mandates on how landowners manage their private property?

I will suggest again that their are birds in the state, very few hunts I have made this year have been easy but my hard work has paid dividends in the long run.
dear chessie!
I did 1966 because that was the year I started duck hunting. Not 10 years ago, not 20, but almost 50. THE ONLY REASON I suggest opening 2 weeks after the youth weekend is to give the birds time to settle down again! Please read the post carefully! I'm all for the youth weekend. I have grandkids who hunted it this year. But I think the regular season should open 2 weeks after that. Ever wonder why the birds are so wary opening day? Although the pressure isnt all that great I really feel the shooting before the regular season has an effect. Opening the season 2 weeks after the youth weekend gives the birds time to settle down and also have a few more migrate to the state.
As stated we ALWAYS bag MORE birds in my area in November!
Please read posts carefully before YOU respond.
LA Marsh Service
That's not a bad idea letting the season open 2 weeks after the youth hunt weekend which means it would have opened on Nov 16th this year, however I do not want to see the youth hunt in late January as it was not many years ago and some hunters are pushing for that again.
youth hunt
Yes, I totally agree. Leave the youth weekend the first weekend in November. The late January youth weekend of years ago was a complete disaster.
Wishin I was Fishin
I hunted the Maurpeaus swamp area from 1984 to 1990 with my best friend from college who is Phil Robertson's nephew. Althugh I never hunted this area with Phil, I have hunted with Phil several times on his property in Monroe back in the late 80's but never in Maurpeaus. Phil filmed his first duck commander videos in this swamp. We use to hunt the Garyville swamp area, some hunting near the Reserve canal and often we would just walk in from Interstate 10. The maurpeaus swamp was by far the best mallard hunting I have ever seen in my life time until the giant salvanina took over. I've hunted all over including Canada, and this area was the best I've seen in my life time for mallard hunting. There were mallard roosts in that swamp where mallards would come in by the hundreds right at dark bigger than any woody roost I have ever seen. At daylight the sky would be full of thousands of mallards leaving the timber to go feed then they would trickle back in during the mid morning to roost during the day. Most people that hunted this swamp were deer hunters. Most of the clubs were deer hunting clubs, hence there were not many duck hunters in this timber. Although it was private land, I never ever saw another duck hunter back then in this swamp. This entire area to the blind river and amite river was prime duck hunting until we loss our flooded timber habitat due to salvania just as we are loosing our wetlands to erosion. Loss of habitat is a key factor guys. While we are loosing habitat we are not building or gaining enough new habitat to keep up with the loss. The northern states do not have as big as of a problem of loosing habitat as we do with the excepiton of pot holes and prarie lands being developed, so anything they do to build and create habitat is only increasing the amount of areas ducks can use encouraging more and more ducks to use these areas while we are decreasing and loosing the amount of areas ducks can use. Also keep in mind that many of our rice fields and farms are now sugar cane and not rice anymore. Unfortunately, I do not think LA will ever be able to keep up with the loss of habitat and wetlands. Sad to say it, but my boys and grand kids will not experience the duck hunting success we have now when they become adults. I hope I am wrong though...
I hunted off hwy 51 shell bank, buzzard bayou and sarpy later on. Yes it was the place to be if you were a duck hunter.(deer hunter too) We were spoiled back then nothen but green. Hunted there last week killed some woodies.The yongins (son-in-law and nephews)I hunt with say its hard to believe the stories.but it is still nice to take trips down memory lane with the yongins.coot i fear the same it is truely sad
Oh what a good problem to have,
In Maurpeaus and in north MS is the only two places where I use to have a problem of shooting mostly green, then we had to wait hours some times for our filler ducks (gadwall, spoonies, teal) to fill our limit. Those were the days.....

It was insane how we hunted back then in the 70's and 80's with no GPS, no cordless q-beams, no cell phone, etc etc... just a hand held flashlight, a compass, lots of land marks and we would flag our way in with survey tape so we could get back out at dark.
PS: I started duck hunting in the 70's in the Manchac area and hunted flooded timber off of the Tickfaw river too and did some hunting out in the rigolets area. Even the Manchac prairie back in the day had an amazing amount of mallards and it was hard core hunting, no go-devils back then. The hunting use to be so good in Manchac you could walk in from the RR tracks in Manchac to a pot hole and shoot a limit of mallards. I don't blame the pressure on Manchac as to why the hunting is not good there anymore, I blame the lost of the habitat that surrounds manchac specifically the flooded timber in Maurpeaus. Also I remember the bread and butter duck in the rigolets back in the 70's were pintail. Heck, they were only 10 points each back then for those of you who remember teh point system. You could shoot 10 pintails a day....
Thanks for clarifying
Marsh,but I understood your post just fine. I still don't think posting data from 1966-69 from one WMA advances your argument one bit. No one is disputing the lower number of birds this year and this information has no bearing on future population counts. I am also for youth weekend starting the before the regular season, i have participated in the youth weekend the last 2 years taking the chance to introduce a new youngster to the sport. Something posters on this thread have suggested is a bad thing. In the last 2 years I don't think youth weekend affected my opening weekend one bit. The ducks worked great on Nov 2nd giving a youngster an easy limit and allowing me time to scout the week before the season which lead to limits of gadwall both days the next week.

I am of the personal belief that the season should start as early as possible in November because when we have years with marginal feed the ducks/coots can wipe out a pond in no time then move on. The only thing we are in disagreement over about the starting date is 1 week in november which you concede is the most productive time for you.

I would still like to hear your theories on how to prevent short stopping by people managing private property to the benefit of waterfowl to the North of us.

Do you remember posting this?
Speaking as a duck hunter and not a guide. After Katrina the Reggio-Delacroix-Carnarvan area had a fantastic season. The season after Gustav was great for us. Lots of widgeon and coontail grass was gone BUT the birds adapted and found food. Tiny bright green grass began growing on the edges of the ponds and the grays tore it up. When the marshes are flooded the blue wings will indulge in smartweed and tiny snails and other animal matter. Afterall, widgeon and coontail grass is not a prefered food for blue winged teal. Gray ducks love widgeon grass. But if they don't find it they will find something. Stop worrying fellow hunters I've been chasing these birds since 1966 and have seen the ducks adapt to any condition. We will have a good season. Sure the storm dumped some water up the flyway but not enough the ruin our season. Two years ago they had record floods up north and we still did good here. End of story.

I totally agree with you here the birds will adapt, maybe not always to one person or particular location's benefit but they will adapt to thrive as best they can.
Great Read, and comments
First I would like to thank Coot for starting this thread. I couldn't agree with Coot more and also LA Marsh Guide Service, I know true experience when I see it. It is just logical and common sense to know that a later opening date would be best for all of us duck hunters in LA. Some hunters on here just don't think that it is better for all to be out of the marsh by 7:30am than by 10:30am REALLY. And, attention hunters, just because it says 1,500 feet per sec on your box of shells doesn't mean you can shoot 1,500 feet away. It's ridiculous to see hunters jumping up when birds are 70 yds out and blasting away. This type of behavior doesn't help the rest of us.
Mr. Reynolds, my post was not to offend you and I do appreciate what you do, all I and others are trying to say is this: Analogy, I have worked around engineers for 20+ years who sound a lot like you, just because you have data, theory, etc. does not make it reality, listen to experienced hunters, it's the best way to go. You have to know that opening later and closing later would be better for all hunters, common sense. Anyway thanks to everyone for all of the responses.
This season is just Aweful. We had to wait all the way to 730am to fill our 4 man limit. As far as Manchac is concerned. Just what the dr. ordered would be a diversion of river water to push all that salvinia out. Cypress trees would soak up all that nitrogen that is creating the dead zones. That diversion probably would not hurt the saltwater fish species. Because it would flow through the swamp and into Lake Maurepas before it got to the salt water areas. Don't think we ever see that in our lifetimes. Good thread. Seasons are fine. If you lack ducks you either lack habitat or have too much shooting pressure.
Duck reports from friends
I just talked to a friend from Wisconsin who comes down to hunt with us sometimes. He went to a local Walmart there to help a neighbor buy a snowplow to clear his sidewalk and driveway. He said it was the first time he had ever seen this but there were a couple hundred mallards in the Walmart parking lot. Wild mallards, just a half mile away from an open river. He had no idea why there were there. I asked if the lot was sanded for the icey conditions and he said yes. I told him they were there getting sand for their gizzards. He also visited family in St. Cloud Mn. Last week and said the Miss River is still loaded with thousands of ducks. He hunts all up and down the flyway and agrees that the ducks do not have to migrate all the way to La anymore due to the change in farming practices from Wi to Illinois.
I agree with you Coot. We are loosing habitat in Louisiana and the northern states are creating it. Not good news for the future of La duck hunting.
I still feel we have the best hunting in the country but I can see the change coming more and more each year.
On another note, I talked to Phil Robertson yesterday evening and they had their best hunt of the season Saturday morning. We are usually a day or so behind him when he see a push come through. Going in the morning hoping to see more ducks!
Also, thanks Larry R. for all you do!
Too Many Mallards
Coot, I had to laugh about your comment on shooting only mallards. One season, my friend who hunted near Gramercy called and asked me what I'm shooting. Told him nothing but grays. Tells me he'd love to come make a hunt with me, was tired of shooting nothing but greenheads. Boy, those were the days. I remember we'd have flocks upon flocks of wood ducks, and pass on them waiting on mallards or pins.

Have a good, safe and fun season, and Merry Christmas to all of you.
You can not prevent short stopping. Only stating facts about why the migration is changing. As far as a previous post that the birds will adapt.....well this season is different. There has been serious cold weather up the flyway. We have EXCELLENT habitat in southeast Louisiana. Where are the birds? Well, they have adapted to the EXCELLENT habitat up the flyway. Not saying its wrong just stating facts.
Was in Arkansas the week of December 9. The week of the severe Artic front. Unbelievable amounts of gadwall,teal,pintail,widgeon,spoonbill and mallards feeding in the rice and soy bean fields along Hwy 65. Even with all the snow and ice...........they are adapting. It now takes a severe drought up the flyway to really push them down now because the birds have no choice but to migrate to the coast.
Need I not mentioned the snow/blue goose. We used to hunt them on the outside coastal marshes of Hopedale and do quite well. Those marshes have been virtually untouched by recent storms unlike the Delacroix marshes. Now it is rare to even see a goose there now. From Talluhah to Stuttgart it was cloud after cloud after cloud of snow/blues flying and in the fields. They have adapted.

Now for the youth season. Opening day the birds were quite plentiful and decoying easily. The next weekend when the regular season opened the birds were VERY wary unlike the opening days of years ago.
I AGREE THAT IN MY AREA NOVEMBER IS ALWAYS THE BEST. All I am saying is make the youth season and regular opening day 2 weeks apart to give them time to settle down. Cant explain it more simple than that.
2nd Split
Well, I cannot speak for others, but I can speak for myself. So far this 2nd split just as in the 5-6 years past has been better than the first split, hence I still think the later season opening dates are better. Sure we have plenty of ducks in early November, but once they get pressure they tend to leave quickly. At least later in the season we have more cold fronts pushing new birds into the area and I have the luxury to pick my days and hunt the strong northern windy days as today. Although it was a mixed bag today, I am not complaining and we definitely had new easy decoying birds today in the area. My sons shot at a flock of buffle heads that landed on the water today and they killed 6 of them with only 2 shots... LOL.... Ended up with 11 greys, 1 widgeon, 1 ruddy duck, 4 gw teal and and 7 buffle heads today. I do let my boys shoot at diving ducks on occassion. BTW, they cook up fine in duck chili or gumbo....