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Coastal Zones dates

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I would suspect that the zone dates will be coming out soon. Anyone hear any unofficial dates for the coastal zone for 2015/2016?
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
From Larry Reynolds:
Coastal Zone: Nov. 14 - Dec. 6 and Dec. 19 - Jan. 24.

East Zone: Nov. 21 - Dec. 6 and Dec. 19 - Jan. 31.

West Zone ....... I'm not so sure.

If I had my way, we would propose and set the dates at the August LWF Commission meeting with no comment period except for those present at the meeting.

But as always ..... I'm not in charge. 

We are hoping to get the 2015 Waterfowl Hunter Survey out in the next couple of weeks (if LSU will quit holding up the contract for meaningless trivia). The Commission has decided to pursue zones/splits changes for the 2016 season, which means we need a decision by December 1, 2015. That means we will be doing waterfowl hunter workshops and public meetings across the state between August and November, so there will be plenty of opportunity for hunters to contribute their views.
- See more at: http://www.louisianasportsman.com/lpca/index.php?section=reports&event=view&action=full_report&id=187377#comments
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Thank you Larry !
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Those dates will indeed be my recommendations, but please don't bet your house on them.

There is backlash from moving last-year's Coastal Zone dates a week later, and I've had discussions with at least 2 Commissioners indicating support for earlier season dates (because the traditional dates are as late as possible this year, where last year they were as early as possible). At least 1 Commissioner is considering other changes to increase the number of open days in December.

We will see on August 6th.
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Im not fond of the 2 week splits personally, I like hunting as late as possible in January and maximum days in December. I did take the survey as well and voiced my opinion. November typically not much water around in the woods.
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What zone are u in Delloutre? Out in the coastal marsh November is usually the high point.
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where i hunt in the marsh, we kill more birds in November than any other time, so I like the earlier season
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Please give is a 2 week split, I don't care when the season starts, but we need a 2 week split. Anything shorter than 2 weeks isn't enough of a break for the birds.
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My property is in the East zone. As the duck flies im only 12 miles from the Arkansas line. I would like to see Nov 21-Nov 29, Dec12-Jan31
that would appease the 2 week split folks. November has good hunts but typically the mallard shooting doesn't crank up hot and heavy until December and January when water backs up into the pin oaks and sloughs along the river. This would maximize the December hunting days as well. Plus your folks who deer hunt would catch the split in the thick of the rut in that area as well.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
We did that back in 2011 at Commissioner Ronny Graham's urging, and it caused a outcry from people who hunt agricultural habitats in the East Zone. Many of those habitats provide earlier water than the forested swamps and bottomlands, and many of those hunters want to hunt earlier or at least have 2 weeks in the first split.

We got an earful at a public meeting in Monroe the following year, which was set up by Ronny Graham and some of his personal friends that were angered by the decision. That meeting was a big surprise to Commissioner Graham, who thought everybody felt the same way he did about the season dates in the East Zone.
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The crowd that cried for the 2 weeks in November mostly all hunt Hwy 15, which is a small minority honestly. Mer rouge and jones does well late and early. Hwy 15 has fell off the map the last ten years with the current farming practices. But Honestly if they want to have a teal shoot in November and it keeps them satisfied then have at it. Us woods hunters will just suck it up and go with the flow.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
That was just one example. The East Zone runs a long distance south of there and includes outstanding early-season hunting on Catahoula Lake and marshes around Lake Pontchartrain (both areas I tried to re-zone in 2012) as well as ag. fields.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
East zone is a large area for sure, with lots of different habitats. Id say from the Catahoula general area north its pretty much all ag or bottom land. Its a complicated issue im sure, you will always make some group angry with a decision ha ha.
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I love the longer split, also like the east split coinciding with coastal split.
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I'm with Deloutre on the East Zone Dates but it's not likely. Instead we will lose two weeks in the peak of the East Zone migration in December so rice field hunters can shoot GWT.

Just for the record I am south of Catahoula Lake.
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What we need are more zones. A Caddo Lake zone, Catahoula Lake zone, a southwest marsh zone, southwest rice zone, northeast rice zone, northeast timber zone, southeast marsh zone, southeast lake zone, central rice zone, central timber zone, central moist-soil zone, etc. If the deer hunters in this state get TEN zones, why can't us duckunters?

sarcasm font ON[OFF]
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The USFWS limits the number of zones per state. I think if we elect for more than 3 zones we loose the split season. That may have changed for the next round of zoning. I think flooded timber is a small fraction of LA's duck hunting effort so it isn't going to be a driver of season setting as it is in other southern states. If we get more zones with a split I think we will see a 'North' zone to address some of these concerns but not all of them. Lots of guys like hammering green wings!
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Anyone who is satisfied with hammering teal and gadwall all season simply do not have access to good mallard hunting!

Fortunately I have it all and want as late a season as possible!
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I don't think that there is 'good' mallard hunting in Louisiana anymore. Especially south of I 10
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I'll take teal and grey ducks from day 1 to day 60.Luckily we do kill some pintail and widgeon in our marsh which adds to the variety.
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That is a perfect example of why I think that we should have a North Zone, also. The Northshore of Lake P is a very different habitat than North LA.
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Hey Larry,
Any indication on the speck dates and season length?
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You boys should have gotten in the coastal zone when you had the chance.

Problem with a North La. Zone is there is a good size segment of hunters in NW La. that see Central Flyway birds come thru early and they want to hunt earlier than the folks from Three Rivers area northward.
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Ok so harvest data (available at flyways.org) shows that over the last decade LA averages just under 2.5 million ducks killed per year. Over the same span mallard harvest is about 150,000 per year. So roughly six percent of the total. Even supposing that we back end loaded the season AR style and miraculously doubled our mallard harvest it would only move the needle by a twentieth and thats before you consider lost opportunity on early migrants in rice fields and marshes for BW, GW, whistlers, pintails ect that would be at points south by thanksgiving. The math just isn't with late seasons in LA. We have long been a teal and gadwall state and wishing won't change that. Possibly if we could have 4 zones without a day or split penalty from USFWS a new zone could be cobbled together along the AR border and then down the MS river a ways to catch the areas where flooded timber hunting is prevalent. But at 1/20 of the harvest managing for greenheads here is lots of effort for little reward.
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Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain
I tried to put all of the coastal marsh around Lake Pontchartrain in the Coastal Zone in 2012, but the hunter-opinion data from the affected region did NOT support it.

Our zone boundaries in NW Louisiana and SE Louisiana don't make good ecological sense, but hunting regulations have never been solely about biology/ecology.

I wish you guys could see the feedback I receive on formal hunter-opinion surveys, public comment periods, and regular phone calls and e-mails. Guys that hunt on the same lake or same piece of marsh want different seasons, and both say the other is crazy. I've got Commissioners saying they have NEVER heard of a Coastal Zone marsh hunter wanting later seasons!? For real? I shared dozens with him, AND showed him some feedback from some rice-field hunters that say they need an earlier season. Over 80% of our hunters hunt in only 1 zone, but I get complaints from a number of locations about people in that 'other' zone ruining their hunting.

In this day and age, a 60% majority is a landslide, and a 10% minority can make your life miserable.
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Specklebelly season structure
The revised harvest management plan for white-fronted geese was approved by the MF Council and accepted by the Service Regulations Committee, so we have a choice between 88/2 and 74/3.

The hunter-opinion survey showed clear preferences for 74/3 statewide and in all zones. We even looked at just the guys that hunted specifically geese for 1-5 days or >5 days, and they too favored 74/3 over 88/2 nearly 2 to 1. 88/2 and 74/3 are biologically equivalent relative to harvest rate, which is why we have a choice, and I will recommend 74/3.

But there is at least 1 Commissioner and a hunting guide or 2 that are wearing me out looking for support for 88/2. I was told the other day that opening the Coastal zone on Nov. 7, instead of the 14th, makes it perfect for an 88-day specklebelly season that would run to February 14 with the traditional 12-day split in December. So I expect that will be a counter proposal to my recommended Nov. 14 duck opener for the Coastal Zone with a 74-day specklebelly goose season running until February 7 with a daily bag of 3.

I don't know which way it will go.
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Are we static at 3 zones when it comes up or can we have addition zones without penalty this time?

Also thanks for putting up with all our BS. And I held a few vacation days in reserve in case the commissioners scramble the season again!
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Zone options
We can choose between:

Up to 4 zones with straight seasons (no splits)
Up to 3 zone with split seasons.
No zones with up to 2 splits.

Within those limits, we can change our zone configuration every 5 years if we wish. So we are static at 3 zones with split seasons until 2016. We need to decide between now and Dec. 1rst what we want for the 2016-2020 seasons, and we can choose any of the allowed options.

It is my intention to conduct 6 public meetings in September and October to discuss zones/splits options and goose-hunting issues.
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Is it safe to assume that survey data supports a split season???? It would seem that very few hunters would want to burn all 60 days in a row since then we either wouldn't start till after thanksgiving or we would wrap it up right after new years. I definitely rather spread the fun out and most years the rest probably benefits sucess a little at least!
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Splits
In all the hunter-opinion surveys and public comments I've been involved with since 2005, there has never been more than 6-7% support for straight seasons in any framework.

There are a few guys that say 'give me the last 60 days', there are guys hunting the large reservoirs in NW LA that have told me they want 60 straight starting the first Saturday in November, and some of those hunting Catahoula Lake have preferred a straight season. But they are small minorities even among those hunting the same areas.

So I think it is safe to say seasons will be split. I'd go so far as to say we are far more likely to go to no zones with 2 splits rather than 4 zones with no splits.
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coastal zone opens to early ,I don't understand how the most southern zone opens first, cause that thing about early migration is bull with the changing climates there is no early migration , I can understand teal moving early to their breeding grounds ,but most other ducks are pushed by weather(maybe 30 years ago it was different with cold temps in OCT and NOV ) , I work on the inland rivers and watch the migration of birds and they head south not cause they just want a vacation its because of weather pushing them , I hunt some way out places where there is very little hunting pressure and its just funny how we have more ducks in the marsh in February and March than we have in November, oh and the issue about we can not have later dates cause birds are paring up yea right if that is the case then aren't the zones to the north of us with later seasons shooting birds that are paired already, one more thing since I am on a roll, the issue of hunting over baited crop fields (cause in my eyes that is what it is cause with all the birds that move through funny how grain stays on ground all season) we should have the same right and be able to feed as long as limits are kept in order, in one of the comments I read something bout good friends and I guest its the same with everything in Louisiana HE WHO HAS THE MORE POWERFUL AND RICH FRIENDS ARE THE ONES WITH THE CONTROL,,,JUST MY OPINION
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We kill more ducks and see more ducks in November than January hands down. The actual counts show more coastal birds in November than December 4 out of 5 years. Obviously a February-March late split would be epic but that is never going to happen. There is no conspiracy here just people at the LDWF attempting to set the most useful seasons within a fame work laid out by the Feds and an international treaty. There are also a lot of coastal zone hunters who prefer more early days just due to acess issues late season when NW winds blow water out of the coastal marshes. Remember the only reason the option to run through the end of january exists is because Senstor Trent Lott of MS forced the issue when he was speaker way back when. Previously the mandated latest close was a week earlier.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Actually the Dec. Coastal Survey generally indicates more ducks in the marsh. 5 out of the last 5 Dec. surveys illustrates that fact.

Since 2000 5-6 of the November surveys have been amongst the lowest on record. Last year was unusually high due to two arctic blast and the Dec survey number still topped Nov.

Are ducks more hunt able and more widespread in November. Probably so but the surveys clearly indicate the numbers are greater in Dec.
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Of course there are more ducks in December than November and more in January than December. There are plenty of ducks in the marsh by the first weekend of November and to me it's best to be there as the ducks arrive
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Green chaser I mistyped, yes December is often the highest. November on a long scale leads January and harvest per hunter effort is also higher in November than January. So that being said the real question is what is the practical and aesthetic value of having a 2 week split? For those private land hunters who can rotate pressure on their ponds (I can do this) I am not certain the rest makes a huge difference. For small leases and public land I would imagine it is helpful. Obviously I have already stated that I prefer the two week split just to make the whole show last a little longer if nothing else. Even though it's the same number of hunts it allows more anticipation and provides a break to catch up on sleep.
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You and I both know that. Lanco in all his infinite wisdom didn't appear to know that based on his comments.
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I also think we see more 'new' birds the first split. Now from what a lot of old-timers told me when I was a little kid about hunting before WWII, late February and early March is a really special time to hunt ducks! But unless the zombie apacolype ensues none of us will ever find out.
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http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/aerial-waterfowl-surveys
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So yes I am dumb greenchaser. Long weekend of night shifts crossed the harvest sucess with population surveys. I think the issue is that if we want a split and we want duck season open over the thankgiving and Christmas breaks for kids then the split is going to fall in December. My numbers on the realatively small fraction of mallards in LA bags are correct (check flyways.com and click on the custom harvest data link) so I still don't think managing around mallard migration would be the most sensible option. Mostly this is just a fun discussion while I'm stuck at work wishing I was in Hopedale. I don't mean to troll or be an azz. We are all just looking forward to September.
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Never said we should manage duck season any particular kind of way and especially not for a particular species. I'm pleased with the East Zone dates. I think they are the best we can do and satisfy most everyone.

I was simply correcting what I saw as errors in the content of your post. More ducks arrive as the season wears on. There are more ducks on the coast in December than there are in November and more in January than there are in December. It's as simple as that.

With that said and at the risk of repeating myself clearly ducks are easiest to harvest when they first arrive so it's wise to hunt fairly early on the coast even if the numbers are really not what they seem as the survey data points out. I think the birds quickly seek and find refuge as the season wears on.
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I have spent the last eighteen seasons guiding for ducks and Specklebellies. My self and my guides spend almost every single day in the fields and many afternoons scouting or working on blinds. Countless tens of thousands of hours hunting, watching and scouting Specklebelly geese.
As a commercial waterfowl business owner, you would think I’d be in favor of raising the limit to three. That could not be farther from the truth. Yes, it sounds great a 33% increase in the limit. Yes, I would book more hunters. But I feel that the negative effects on our Specklebelly population will far outweigh the short term financial gains.
Hunters’ time in the field will absolutely increase, hunters will shoot into more flocks, shoot at birds higher (if that's possible!) and hunt more afternoons. I have witnessed the popularity of Speck hunting grow over the last ten to fifteen years as the field duck hunting has declined. The Specks have adapted and become smarter. My guides and I have had to evolve and continually adapt our hunting techniques (much better decoys, much better calls, and better concealment etc) to still be able to kill Specks on a consistent basis all season. I feel that adding a third Speck would be devastating to our local population. Yes the Specks would still come down here, but they won’t stay, or they will become nocturnal. They will go back to Arkansas where many of the Specks winter and where they are not pressured. From talking to other guides and hunters in Arkansas and Missouri, many more Specks are wintering up there than in the past. Even though the spring count shows an increase in population, I don’t think we are holding more Specks in southwest Louisiana. So this is the first mistake in even considering raising the limit.

As far as number of days the Speck season runs, I think 74 days is a good number, but I’m not opposed to more days. However I am opposed to having those additional days run during our split. The split is for the birds/fields to rest and let them get back out of refuges, become less nocturnal, etc.

Now here is the info that Larry will present to the commission that sets all aspects of our hunting seasons. 'We even looked at just the guys that hunted specifically geese for 1-5 days or >5 days and they too favored 74/3 over 88/2 nearly 2 to 1. 88/2 and 74/3 are biologically equivalent relative to harvest rate, which is why we have a choice, and I will recommend 74/3.'

Here is the second big mistake. We are basing hunter opinion on a dismal sample size that hunted as little as -less than 5% of the available goose season. This is not even close to being relevant information on setting season parameters. So that is ridiculous to base anything on such a small sample size. These 'goose hunters' may have not spent a single day Specklebelly hunting. All we know is that they goose hunted 5 or more days of the 110 day goose season. There were no questions in the survey about days spent hunting for Specks, or how many seasons spent hunting for specks. To base an opinion on such lack of information is weak at best...
If you ask almost any hunter in Louisiana if they want to be able to kill more of anything they will say yes. We are a state of killers! All water fowlers love to shoot birds. That's only natural and expected. But basing raising the Specklebelly limit on such inconclusive data would not be prudent. If the limit is raised to 3 birds, I think it will only serve to lower the quality of our Specklebelly goose hunting.

That's the first issue I have. The second deals with the distinct possibility of the season opening a week early because of a push by big $$ marsh hunters.
Many rice farmers are struggling with slow, late rice due to the heavy rains we had in the spring. There will be second crop rice still getting harvested well into November this year. Many rice field hunters will not be able to hunt if rice is standing in their field. The average hunter is oblivious to this. They are not in contact with their farmer to even know this a concern. The average hunter is also not aware of this organized push to open the season a week early. It’s just seven days, but that will be the difference in some field hunters being able to hunt or not on the opening weekend.
I think many of the thousands of ricefield hunters are oblivious to the late rice as well as this late 'under the rug' push to open the season a week early.
This may sound like I am bashing Larry, I'm not. He and I have spoken and emailed back and forth on these issues. I think he's done a good job at a very tough job. I just disagree with him on these topics.
It's not too late to have your opinion heard. Email the commission members and or Larry. The meeting to set the seasons is this coming Thursday.
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Larry is against the 11/7 coastal opener. Unless you consider opening on 11/14 to be 'early' he's with you there. I understand your concern about the specklebelly change but I can't imagine the commission leaving the extra birds on the table. Goose hunting in LA is a pretty specialized subset of waterfiwling with effectively zero public areas that offer good goose hunting, do you really think this change would cause a big jump in effort? Be prepared for people to say you just don't want the third bird because right now you can get an omelette after only two. Wish I could make Thurdays meeting, should be interesting.
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In my opinion the first split is always better in the marsh. The birds are fresh decoy easy and we get new birds quite often. Then the first few weeks of seconds split is usually good but by the week after new years its really petering out. In my opinion I kill 90 percent of my birds in the first 2/3 of the 60 day season. Likewise absolute best hunting for me and our group is strong strong south wind days not really the north winds. Those south winds come mainly first split. That's just my thoughts but again that's marsh not rice not timber not field hunting.
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Lanco1,
You are correct, as far as I know Larry is in support of the Traditional second Saturday opener( nov 14). There is a strong push by Miami Corporation and some of the commission to open a week early (nov 7)
As far as''Be prepared for people to say you just don't want the third bird because right now you can get an omelette after only two'

60 of the 74 days of Speck season I am hunting for 24 ducks 8 Specks and a few snows and blues. So no early omelette for me other than Teal season. I have strong shoulders anyway. The 'keyboard bashers' don't bother me, I know they are not looking out for the sustainably or quality of the great hunting we enjoy in Louisiana. I can't make the meeting either, I will be out of the country with my wife harassing fish and beer in Mexico!
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I always find it a bit of an oxymoron when guides who put the greatest pressure on the resource of any group of waterfowl hunters within our state talk about sustaining quality hunting.

I'm not sure how those two factors go hand in hand but it's something I hear a fair amount from commercial ops personnel.
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Green chaser,
Get your facts straight. We have 23 blinds on eight farms in four parishes. No more than 5 blinds get hunted a day. While the others sit. We manage our properties intensely for waterfowl. Essentially creating habitat other than refuges, keeping tens of thousands of birds in the fields. Helping neighboring hunters also. Yes there Some 'guide services' who have 2 or 3 blinds. They come and go each year. They average 'guide service' goes out of business with in 3 years. The failure rate is north of 70%.
All of our hunting is done on private land that we lease. We spend a lot of hard earned money on leases and flooding thousands of acres of habitat for waterfowl. By rotating the huntung pressure on this acreage. We are more stuards of the land and the birds than most.
I doubt you'll see any of these other services posting on here showing restraint of limits. They along with other short minded people don't look at the long term future of our sport. Which is why I talk about sustainability, with out any oxymorons what so ever.
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if you look at the carryover of specklebellies wintering in SW LA, the lack of appropriate agrictultural land refuges, and the tremendous pressure, mark my words, 3 birds will lead to Gueydan/welsh/Klondike hunters talking about specklebellies the way SE LA hunters talk about mallards. 'Yeah they used to come down here' now they stay on refuges in the Midwest.
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Decoymaker,
It's nice to see someone else can see the forest through the trees. It seems like we maybe in the minority, I hope not!
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As a coastal marsh hunter, i want the season open in November as long as possible because of the early migrant species like bw teal, greys and pintails. Different guys here hunt different areas with different habitat affecting hunting and have different wants and opinions. The one factor we should all agree is that survey participation was very low which leaves the decision makers little to go on. But Mr. Reynolds always finds the time to participate in these discussions on this site which is good for all involved.
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Mr. Outfitter,

If what you say is true then I stand corrected but I do wonder how much you will care about the resource when the bottom falls out on the prairie like it did in the 80's. If it's like last time you and others like you will fold your tent and head for greener pastures. I suppose it's just the nature of the business.

Good luck to you and your clients this season!

Greenchaser
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Green chaser,
My name is Scott Ritchey, owner/operator of Louisiana Outfitters. www.louisianaoutfitters.net
You can keep grasping at straws....I'm not packing up and going to any other pasture. I'm not defensive, just factual. I've been through the years when the limit was 3. Never even flinched. You attempted to make valid points, none of which are remotely valid. Waterfowl hunting is my passion, my living and my life. Be careful who's commitment to sustainability you question.
Good luck this season!!
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Thanks Scott,

Your bio seems to make it highly unlikely that you would have even been in business during the 30/3 era but it you say so I'll leave it at that.

Greenchaser
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Goose season was never 30 days, he has doves and fish in the mix, if the season is shorter managing pressure becomes less important so he can push his ponds harder with more hunts , diversify to offering self guided day hunts ect. I'm sure like all of us Scott doesn't want 30 day seasons but outfitters didn't dry up and go away entirely in the first half of the 90's. On the other hand Scott whether it's a goose pit or the pearly gates (any twilight zone fans) if my dog isn't welcome then it's not for me. Just sayin.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
You make it sound like you are some sort of saint to the waterfowl. You are a guide service, you are there to make money.

'We manage our properties intensely for waterfowl. Essentially creating habitat other than refuges, keeping tens of thousands of birds in the fields. Helping neighboring hunters also.'

Thanks so much for helping your neighboring hunters, you are so kind

'We spend a lot of hard earned money on leases and flooding thousands of acres of habitat for waterfowl. By rotating the huntung pressure on this acreage. We are more stuards of the land and the birds than most.'

Thanks again, without your guide service helping all these birds, we would be in a world of hurt for sure.

You gonna be in a bind when someone comes in and waves some big money in front of that farmer and leases all those fields out from under you.
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All I ask is please give us maximum Dec and Jan hunting days in the east zone. The elusive mallard drake is my bread and butter duck. He makes up over half of our harvest. GWT is at the bottom of the list, we just don't hammer them in the woods on our property.

As for the specklebellies I am all for shooting 3 a day . Those things are like flies in the NELA rice country, don't even need decoys to kill them most days and if I do put out speck decoys I use only two full body uprights.
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Is it about hunters or a business
At this point nobody seems satisfied with the dates. It's hit or miss depending on who u talk to and that will always be the case. It's great that Scott can do this for a living and it is his passion... just like everyone that steps into the duck or goose blind. I think his hunting rates are high but that's what it takes to have tens of thousands of birds. If there's that many birds then why are u worried? Just sit back and go hunting like everybody else. Good luck to everyone this season!
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You hit the nail on the head Boston. Duck hunters are never in agreement. Have seen folks that are in the exact same blind argue on whether they would rather have more days in November or go til the end of January.
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Would be a bad idea to have the inmates running the jail so to speak ( hunters having too much say ). We all should just play the hand we are dealt with regards to the seasons, limits , etc. set down by the powers that be. Personally i only worry about what i can control with regards to my lease and maximize hunting success that comes with years on the same property. But most of all, I try to enjoy our right to hunt and the opportunity just to be in the outdoors any chance I get. Hope everyone has a safe season
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Mr Reynolds, what was the point of the survey questions regarding specks if it was going to have no factor on what the commission members voted on?
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Also, doesn't adding more days to the season put more pressure on the birds than increasing bag limits?
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Dates are out:
http://www.nola.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2015/08/2015_louisiana_duck_season_set.html

From the above NOLA article:

In a split vote Thursday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission elected to change the dates for the 2015-16 duck season from those proposed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Normally, the season in the state's Coastal Zone opens the second Saturday of November. This year, that would have been Nov. 14, which was the proposal presented at the monthly commission meeting by Waterfowl Study Leader Larry Reynolds.

But three other commissioners backed a proposal by Chad Courville to move the opener a week earlier, to Nov. 7, which will cost hunters a week at the end of January. The original department proposal called for the season to close Jan. 24, but the commission elected to end it Jan. 17. That's a full two weeks earlier than what is allowed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As a result of the change, the youth weekend in the Coastal Zone was also moved up a week to Oct. 31-Nov. 1.

The full duck season in the Coastal Zone will be Nov. 7-Dec. 6 and Dec. 19-Jan. 17.

In contrast to the Coastal Zone, the commission took seven days away from the first split in the West Zone, and tacked them to the end of the season.

The full duck season in the West Zone is Nov. 14-Dec. 6 and Dec. 19-Jan. 17. The youth season is Nov. 7 and Jan. 31.

The commission stuck with the department's proposal for the East Zone, establishing the season for Nov. 21-Dec. 6 and Dec. 19-Jan. 31. The youth season is Nov. 14 and Feb. 6.

The entire state will be closed to duck hunting Dec. 7-18.

The daily bag limit on ducks is six, and may include no more than four mallards (no more than two of which may be females), two canvasbacks, one mottled duck, one black duck, three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads and two pintails.

Commissioners Billy Broussard, Ed Swindell and Bart Yakupzack joined Courville in voting for the changes. Commissioner Dan Davis and Chairman Pat Manuel voted against Courville's motion. Commissioner Ronny Graham was absent.

I figure there will be plenty of comment from hunters on one side or the other of the Nov. 7 vs Nov. 14 Coastal Zone opener issue.

My own observations are that some years there's lots of birds by Halloween, some years only a few by the first full weekend in November. It's a gamble with mother nature, just hope for another October and November like last year with regard to fronts coming early and often. Good luck guys.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Personally as a coastal zone hunter and our lease past history, I could not be happier. More November days means bigger harvest numbers for me and my guys for a 60 day season. I am sure I will hear the flip side from others in here though. Come on boys, lets hear it !
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
GreenChaser and Slickhead, yall sound really ignorant bashing outfitters on here. Everything Scott has stated is true. As far as outfitters putting more pressure on the birds, well that is simply comical. Have either of you hunted SW Louisiana? There are yahoos in every field hunting every day, half of which have no business being out there. These fields don't get the first bit of relief. However, Scott has entire farms sitting for days at a time. The other reputable guides in the area do the same as well. Sure there are a few that don't, but they won't make it. Reputable outfitters have to kill the birds, so they go above and beyond your every day joe blow hunter. Much more is done by them to ensure birds stay in our area than is done by you, guaranteed.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Here is my take on the argument that more days in November is better. The birds that get here in late Oct/early Nov aren't going anywhere for the most part. Your grays, widgeons, ringnecks, and spoonbill stay in LA coastal marshes the entire season, as backed up by the aerial surveys. Sure, some of the pintail and divers will head down to coastal Texas and Mexico, but for the most part, the majority of early migrators are going to stay here. Pintail will continue to migrate south throughout January, green-wings as well.

Of course the first couple weeks of the season are going to be the best for most, especially people who are too lazy to put in the work to be successful late in the season when we have even more birds than we do in early November. People seem to overlook the fact that, no matter when the season opens, day 30 is going to be tougher than day 1, and day 60 is going to be even tougher than day 30.

IMO, the season opener should stay as it has been, 2nd Sat of November. I'm a marsh hunter, I hunt south of the Intracoastal, but I would still prefer 2nd Sat opener. Lots of hunters in the coastal zone are rice field hunters, and this year, lots of them may not be hunting opening day due to 2nd crop still standing. One week later is not going to hurt our overall number of birds in SW LA, that's for sure, and hunting will still be as good for the first three weeks of the season as it would have if the season opened a week earlier.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Keep thinking you are special noodle. When your blind gets taken out from under you, you gonna realize real quick that you killed ducks by being in a good location and not your skill set. Yall do nothing for conservation. You do it to maximize profit. Leasing large acreage helps YOU out in the long term because it gives birds people that PAY you to hunt a better chance at killing and it keeps other people from shooting those birds. Don't come on here thinking guides that lease large chunks of land are worried about conservation they are only worried about themselves and keeping as many birds on their place as possible
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Ken speck is right November is the best month for coastal ducks. Having the season later last year just hurt us after about jan 10th it gets real slow and we had two week of season still last year after that.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Slickhead, I am not an outfitter. Good try though. Doesn't it make sense to you that people who hunt for a living would care about the long-term sustainability of birds in our area? Outfitters, especially reputable ones, plan on hunting until they retire. They sure as hell aren't worried only about present times, or just about themselves. Farms that aren't over-pressured and contain extra acreage of prime habitat is a win for everyone.

Who pissed in your cheerios?

Tell me a little bit more about how outfitters ruin hunting. Also, tell me about all of the good you do for the future of waterfowl.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
I just have one question. Why even bother with Waterfowl Hunter Surveys when the commissioners are going to vote the way they want to anyway? Regardless of what the majority of Louisiana waterfowl hunters prefer. I cant even predict the opening dates anymore with this flip flopping back and forth each year.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
looks like coastal got the bullet again ,don't pick up your camo shots, shirts and flip flops cause that's what you will be wearing ,the only thing you will be hunting is a place to hide from mosquitos and gnats,, to early of a season opener in south east la we don't have the pleasure of rice fields to attract the few birds that are down we more depend on the cold to push them our way next year we might be hunting in early oct ,, its all a political deal and who is who and I bet the three that pushed for a early coastal season are from the north, bout time to focus more on whitetails
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
I hunt about 40 days a year in the Coastal Zone, I think we basically lost 4 weeks of the season. 2 weeks in the beginning that no one needs to be hunting & the last 2 weeks of January that my people look forward to. I got 4 phone calls this afternoon from unhappy hunters. The season dates sound about as good as Obama's Iran deal to me.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
I'm with you LA Marsh Guide Service. I pushed many hunters to take that survey and for what? AND What would it hurt to split those youth days? One before & one after the season.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
October 31 opening day of the youth season. Can you imagine? The kids are going to be thinking about trick or treating that night and not hunting! Ha!
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
The real pizzer here is that the ring leader for going against the script is the head of a land corporation that stands to make $$$ by setting the season to suit his tiny corner of the state while going against the wishes of the LDWF head waterfowl biologist and the opinion voiced in a state funded public survey. If anything rather than proposing change Chad Courville could have considered abstaining in this vote due to perceived conflict of interest.

Yeah, I don't see it as a 'sky is falling issue' we will kill ducks when it's open, but it seems like a waste of public funds and Larry's time if they are going to ignore the survey! I wanted the regular dates because it's nice to be able to plan ahead, I would rather hunt with less bugs and it fell on my 'off' weekend. However we should have ducks by the seventh so I'll just burn a vacation day and stock up on bug spray.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
I would highly doubt anyone in north La wants to hunt early. If allowed we wouldn't pop a shot until December and not stop until march if we had our way in the north. the push was from the south of I10 bunch.

I truly feel sorry for the rice hunters that are trapped in the coastal zone. the commission really bent them over, all for what a bunch of scrap ducks?
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
get ready coastal hunters ,I just read up on this fellow(see Darren Digby comment )that pushed for the early coastal opening don't look good seems he has something to do with a big land corporation and he was appointed by our favorite governor until 2021 so I guest its bad news till then,, break down big corp money government long arm and the poor citizens who pay their salaries through taxes get the shaft again
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Specklebelly season options
Noodle Creek asked 2 questions. I'll answer the second one first:

The harvest management strategy offers season structure options that generate about the same harvest rate. The harvest rate is defined as the % of the population that hunters kill under a particular season-length/bag-limit combination. We have a long history of specklebelly banding data that shows a 74-day season with a 3-bird bag limit will generate the same harvest rate as a 88-day season with a 2-bird bag limit.

So by doing the simple math comparing those options to the past seasons of 74/2, we can see that increasing the season length by 19% (74 to 88 days) generates the same increase in harvest rate as increasing the bag limit by 50% (2 to 3). Why? Because season length has a much larger effect on harvest than bag limit because few hunters reach the bag limit.
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Hunter Surveys and the Commission
Noodle Creek asked (if I interpret it correctly), what is the point of the Hunter-opinion survey if the Commission is not going to vote in concordance with the results?

The Commission is under no obligation to follow any of LDWF staff recommendations, proposals, or advice, and the people of the state of Louisiana appear to want it that way, including many of you. Remember last year, the Commission also went against my recommended season dates and set the season a week later based on less than 300 hunter comments.

I once made some comments to the Assistant Secretary after a Commission meeting where my well-justified recommendations were ignored, and I was chastised. He said, 'the people of Louisiana do not trust you to do the right thing, so through their elected representatives, they created a Commission to oversee your activities and make sure you do the right thing'. Of course, the 'right thing' is often whatever someone wants personally, so the process can be highly political.

I've been told before, and I will be told again that my job is NOT to advocate for a particular outcome, but to inform the Commission as they consider decisions. And THAT is the role of the Waterfowl Hunter Opinion Survey.

All of you know that I use all information I can find to make my recommendations. I've shared with you the harvest data; the WMA bag-check data; the aerial survey data from breeding grounds, goose staging areas, and here in LA; the data from formalized surveys; and the public comment received. You have seen me use the Hunter-opinion information to inform zone-boundary decisions in 2012. The marshes around Lake Pontchartrain north of Hwy 90 are clearly the same as those in the Coastal Zone, but survey results from those in that particular area did NOT support moving them to the Coastal Zone, so it didn't happen. You have also seen me use the hunter-opinion data (which shows higher preference for later season dates) right alongside the harvest data (which shows we kill over 50% of our season kill in the first 3 weeks of the season, even in SE LA) to recommend compromise season-dates in the Coastal Zone between those who want to hunt earlier and those that want to hunt later.

The point is that hunter-opinion surveys are a very important component of my job if I am to objectively inform the decision makers.

That doesn't make it any less frustrating when you provide hunter-opinion data from over 7,000 hunters, over 1,300 of them hunting primarily for geese at least once last season, over 400 hunting primarily geese over 5 times per year, and 128 of them hunting primarily geese over 20 times per year, and all favoring 74/3 by over 51 to 68% ..... and then have the opinions of 3 guides and one other hunter at a public meeting, all of whom also participated on the survey, trump that survey data. But without formalized hunter-opinion surveys, I have nothing but the phone calls and e-mail I get trying to 'politic' me.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Larry you represent all of the hunters of La. with the highest level of integrity and with the best of intentions for all. From what I have witnessed you are not easily swayed by political notions which is refreshing.

Keep doing what you do!

Greenchaser
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Mr, Reynolds, thank you for trying to make recommendations that make the most sense and are in line with science, studies, and facts. I appreciate what you do and all of your effort. I guess it is simply all about politics, and a few commission members with personal interests. These guys are obviously selfish, and I think it is wrong of them to completely ignore what the people want. I know you put forth a lot of effort with the surveys. This goes to show that you might as well bot waste your time with them anymore, and when people complain, point at the commission members.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
here the shinnanigans go again.
I think we need consistency. No need to change dates yr to yr. I think we should have a set range - (2nd weekend in november until last possible weekend to hunt in january)- make the splits accordingly with regards to area and bird displacement and be done with it. No more BS or arguing. Just set the date. The only changes would be if there were decreased bird count and less days during the season...
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Mhelper, you are absolutely correct. And Halloween day youth season... Gotta talk momma into letting the kids coming to marsh for the weekend instead of trick or treat! special interest win again!

I also can't understand the fact that duck migrate north to south and we open the coastal zone 2 weeks before the birds are even pressured on those NELA rice fields.... Makes no sense.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
I will tell you why BLEEDING DUCK its because that northern area is where the money is coming in at with the guides and the renting of blinds for 20000 a year to line the pockets of the people and their friends that make up the dates that's why and if anyone thinks different ask the person who pushed for the dates and the big land management company he works for who should not be allowed to have a say so cause of the conflict of intrest,,
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
the commissioners are all from south la and its obvious they hunt in swla. the one commissioner from North la wasn't even present. The north has nothing to do with the coastal areas. I can assure you us northern boys aren't leaving our leaning post against our favorite oak tree to come marsh hunting. I truly feel sorry for the coastal hunters especially the rice fields in that area. you all really got raked over the coals.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Well it's obvious that the ones who voted for the early season are either lazy or lack hunting experience. Yes the ducks are easier to kill early in the season so therefore harvest data is up. They are fresh birds and not pressured.

End of January has more birds and less harvest data. Mainly because the birds aren't as fresh. They become pressured and blind wary.

To kill limits of ducks in January you must adapt to late season conditions in order to kill limits of ducks. Got to change your calling, grass blind even better, change the amount of decoys, and sometimes even change the kind of decoys you put out.

I would rather hunt the end of January in the cold and kill a half of a 3 man blind limit of quality ducks than hunt early November sweating and swatting mosquitoes to kill a 3 man blind limit of blue wing teal and few grey ducks.

I would rather sit in a blind and enjoy the commadre killing a few ducks over a couple of hours.

Wouldn't want to run to the blind fight mosquitoes sweat my ass off and kill a limit of the same kind of ducks I just finished killing in September and run back to the truck and not enjoy the commadre.

Opening that early in November feels like a second split teal season.

And to top it all off I hunt in Southwest Louisiana. Creole area. Exactly one mile from the coast.

Don't forget those who hunt where gators are a problem have a higher chance of gator activity around their dog in early November than at the end of January.

I would rather sit in a blind and
As always the people who account for the majority of funds raised by state stamps and license ect don't matter.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Well said Shallow water Angler!
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Well said, that y I do not hunt the Teal Season any more, it's to hot and it does not feel right I what to enjoy my hunt can't do that when it's 90 plus and don't for get the mosquitoes and nats Nov . 7 may still be in the 80 with mosquitoes and nats I would love to hunt as late as we can and see the last day end Jan 31. Some of my best time would of been the last 2 weeks of nice cold day.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Well sais Shallow water angler. My thoughts exactly.

Here is another thing for all you early november yahoos who think your harvest numbers are sooo good b/c most of you are too lazy to put the work into hunting in January.(fewer hunters in Jan=fewer kill counts). You all better pray to the duck hunting god's that we dont get a late ass september or early october hurricane this year. or your super duper november harvest counts are going to be shit.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Well said, I couldn't agree more
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
The second Saturday in November for the opener is definitely the best idea. However last year with the season starting later that did not help us one bit. Our lease was not good at all that last last week and from what I hear its never good late January. I understand that many leases are good however. We were doing really well up until about January tenth then that was it. Like stated before our lease does sooooo much better with strong south winds rather than north. Hopefully we can get second Saturday opener next year and please the majority.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
The smart thing for coastal zone hunters to do is not worry about what they can't control like the weather( early fall, hurricanes etc ) Maybe the I-10 rice belt should have its seasons determined by status of the 2nd crop! See how stupid that sounds. All hunters, regardless of zones, whether you like the dates or not, when the sun rises on your opening day, it might be a good idea to simply enjoy the fact that there is a duck season. One day the liberals running this country might find a way to take away hunting all together. The Constitution is at risk as long as these liberal stove pipers continue to take shots at our right to own guns.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Well said kenspeck! We are going regardless if we kill nothing or kill a limit. 60 days is a long long time the birds will be here for the majority of it they always are.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
duckhunter7777, you sound like a very sensible and reasonable hunter. I appreciate that and hope that maybe these discussions about what we can't control will change some views with regards to this discussion Is the season too early or too late, etc. At the end of the day, none of it matters. Good luck to you this season and hope it is a safe one too !
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Yea its all good we just going out there to have a good time and shoot a few birds hopefully. After all it is just a hobby its not that serious lol for me.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
While everyone here is entitled to their own opinion and I have to agree I like the second weekend in November a little better and feel it accommodates more hunters in diverse habitats I feel obligated to clear up something that is being regurgitated on this post.

I noticed multiple posts stating that it makes little or no sense to open the coastal zone first based on the obvious north to south winter migration... unfortunately as seemingly logical as this sentiment is the biological explanation is based on habitat preferences migration cues and species composition of early season migrant waterfowl ie teal, spoonies, and other typical coastal/marsh birds. these migrants are largely influenced by photoperiod and less influenced by weather fronts than say a bottomland greenhead. They begin migrating as the days shorten and typically utilize habitats closely associated wit coastal marshes and submerged vegetation. early migrants will often skip over the bottomland swamps(which may not even be available cause of lack of flooding) and habitats that comprise the northern zones and travel straight to the coast as opposed to continually traveling south throughout the season and stopping over in all types of habitat on the way. These species comprise the bulk of the birds killed in LA and the hunter effort hence the earlier open date than northern zones. There is an ecological justification to the earlier season in coastal zones, despite it seeming a little counter intuitive. Maybe while we are swatting mosquitos you can try to explain this to your hunting buddies
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Mosquitos in January ain't uncommon in the marsh, but after the first week of november heatstroke and gnats become less of a factor. I prefer an opening nearer the 14 for that reason. Ducks arrive in decent number near the first of November in my area, and more ducks are often present on our ponds just before the opener than on February first (I check while snipe hunting). Duck migration is not a linear process and distances mean little to the birds. Some birds on the coast in December will move north to overflow swamps and back water areas as the rains of winter proceed. Some will move south across the gulf to Cuba and Mexico. Or even just cluster around Venice. I have pictures of closing day limits for sure but on average hunting is better in November and an opener near the 14th mitigates the hot/buggy issues a bit. Again we check on our ponds while snipe, rabbit and hog hunting and it's not duckapalooza out there the majority of years (probably 1/5 years I find ducks suddenly pile in post season). And I've hunted in ice probably 8 times in my life and only two of those hunts featured a decent bag of ducks. I sure will be there thermocell and off in hand from 9/12 till snipe is done on 2/28! Cheers and a good season to all.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
I could not agree with you more.
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Re: Coastal Zones dates
Does anybody know if we are having a big duck season this year? I can't tell........Looks like two teal seasons with a smidge of big duck.
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