Teas season opener was boom or bust

When Michael Broussard and his father went down river late last week just prior to the Special Teal Season opener, the two duck hunters didn’t see much that impressed them. The Broussards hunted the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area in the past and sort of had an idea where they would begin scouting.

When the hunters got to the area they hunted in previous years, they found lots of blinds. It was at that point the younger Broussard said, “I kind of scratched my head and began wondering whether or not we wanted to hunt in the area.”

On the Tuesday prior to the season, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries were completing aerial surveys of the Atchafalaya Delta WMA, where according to Waterfowl Study Leader Larry Reynolds, he didn’t see a single bird.

In short, where hunters hunted opening weekend of the much-anticipated 2012 Special Teal Season had a lot to do whether it was boom or bust. And, where Broussard and his father hunted at sunrise Saturday in the Atchafalaya Basin was a boom.

Broussard, clearly satisfied with his strategy for the opener, said, “You heard all of these stories about a lot of birds everywhere. Then you get down to the coast and say, ‘okay, where are they?’ I was talking to a guy I work with last Friday, and he and his partner went up river in the basin and saw some birds coming out of a hole. I decided to go check out where he was talking about. Sure enough, there were birds there. And, that’s where my dad and me decided to hunt. Saturday, about 10-minutes after legal shooting light, we could identify them and 5-minutes later, we both had our limits.”

For St Mary Parish hunters who stuck with the Atchafalaya Delta WMA, the Hunter Participation and Harvest Summary — which is derived from in the field bag checks — revealed for most, opening weekend was pretty much a bust. The LDWF checked 364 hunters, where the overall hunter harvest rate for number of birds killed was 0.8 birds per hunter, down from two per hunter in 2011.

Reynolds said, “Teal hunting was outstanding in southwest Louisiana, Catahoula Lake and a few of our northeast WMAs, including Wham Brake. Southeast Louisiana did not fare so well, and most reports have been rather poor to dismal. A number of angry hunters have called me about their experiences out of Venice. I don’t know why they are angry given the environmental circumstances.”

One of the things that the aerial survey points out concerning southeast Louisiana is the impact of Hurricane Isaac. The report says storm surge removed almost all the submerged aquatic vegetation in Jefferson, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard parishes, and water levels still were high in the marshes, creating conditions that are not conducive to attracting and holding early-season migrants.

David Smith, owner/operator of David Smith Hunting, feels he was the beneficiary of some of the rain that came from Isaac in the area he hunts south of Jennings. Smith and his hunters also had a boom opener.

“It was incredible,” Smith reported. “Saturday was just incredible. They talked about a lot of teal, and I tell you what, the Wildlife and Fisheries, they were right on. We had seven guys limit out by 7:10 in the morning – about 30-minutes after legal shooting light. Sunday, there wasn’t as many ducks, but there was still a lot. It took 45-minutes to limit out. But, what worked out for me, the farmer had a field he didn’t plant anything in, and it had a ring levee around it. The hurricane filled it with 5 or 6-inches of water and those dollar weeds grew in it. The weeds were just about an inch below the surface. And, the birds for some reason, loved it. I guess it’s because non-vertebrae are high on a teals diet, and beneath those dollar weeds were bunches of snails, leeches and other little organisms.”

In Catahoula Lake the Special Teal Season opener was literally a boom “and” a bust for one group of hunters, when LDWF Agents on patrol opening day came into contact with the group leaving their hunting area. During a license and limit inspection, agents found the men in possession of 28 teal, according to a press reports release by the department. The four men, all in their late 20s, stated they were unaware of the four teal per person per day possession limit. In all, agents seized 51 teal from eight hunters opening weekend on Catahoula Lake.

The Special Early Teal Season runs through Sept. 30. If you wish to book a hunt with David Smith Hunting, you can contact Smith at (337) 305-1956 or visit his website at www.davidsmithhunting.com

If you wish to make a comment or have an anecdote, recipe or story to share contact Flores at (985) 395-5586 or gowiththeflo@cox.net

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