Watching the Times Square ball drop on television New Year’s Eve wasn’t just a countdown that ended 2012. For me it began the countdown to the end of duck season.
As we enter the last weekend of the Coastal Zone, where the majority of us hunt, reports from around the region indicate it has been an up and down year with mostly downs.
Doug Sonnier, owner and operator of Doug’s Hunting Lodge in Lake Arthur, says they’ve done good overall.
“We’ve been doing pretty darn good,” Sonnier said earlier in the week. “The rice fields were kind of slow, but now that we’ve had all this rain, it has picked up with the high water. The last few days have been real good, but we did have a spell where it was slow. It’s good right now — it really is.”
For me personally, I got caught in that spell. In just more than a two-week period back in December prior to Christmas, on three different wildlife management area lottery hunts, my partners and I harvested three, 12 and seven birds, respectively — numbers that didn’t reflect what you’d expect from pristine habitats.
No, this year’s duck season has been up and down even if the area you hunt is in the sweet spot, like Rick Moore Farms near Welch.
According to Rick Moore, an avid duck hunter, the duck season has been unpredictable this year.
Moore said, “I talked a guy into not coming last week — I just didn’t feel good about it, and the next day we killed ducks all morning. It’s just been hard to predict — overall it has been just so-so — and it hasn’t been a bumper season like we all expected. The teal season was the best I ever had. We killed 1,318 birds. When you do that, it’s like, ‘Oh man! This is going to be one of those seasons.’ But, it really hasn’t been that way. We’ve had blinds that killed 24 bird limits this past week. And there were others that killed only eight. With this rain and cold weather, you have a better weather pattern, but to predict! Huh! Not this year. I’m not hearing anybody bragging.”
Though there are a few diehards who always seem to get their birds out on the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area, others, like Berwick resident Michael Broussard, have given it up.
When I asked Broussard if he was going to get ’em on the delta this past week, the young hunter says it’s over for him.
Broussard, who had a bit of hard luck damaging the clutch on his Mud Buddy during a hunt out on the delta where the hard sand bottom is rough on equipment, said, “I’m giving it up for this year. I’m through. I didn’t see much out there on my last hunt and haven’t been hearing any good reports.”
Broussard’s report reflects much of the social media updates that I normally get from around the area. The number of pictures I’ve seen posted with guys holding up limits of ducks has become few and far between of late. And when you don’t see pictures posted, not much is happening.
David Smith, owner and operator of David Smith’s hunting, says, though the duck season is slow, they have been getting their geese.
“The goose hunting has been good. We’ve been killing quite a few of them. And, with the duck season being so slow, where you’re hard pressed to kill 10 or 12 ducks, that’s good,” Smith said.
The Coastal Zone duck season closes at sunset Sunday, not leaving much time. But, that doesn’t mean waterfowl hunters should give up entirely as goose season for light and white-fronted geese runs through Feb. 3. For a last-minute best-bet season-ending hunt, you might consider giving Sonnier a call at Doug’s Hunting Lodge, where the opportunity for both ducks and geese is a possibility with ducks in short supply some days.
Moore pretty much specializes in ducks. He will tell you if it’s worth your while or not to come out for a hunt.
Moore said, “I tell people the way it is when it’s better not to hunt. That way if they know what we’ve been doing and still come, they’re prepared for it. Because in the past if you killed 10 or 12 ducks you’d say you had a good hunt. This year — that’s a great hunt.”
To book a hunt with Moore, call 337-540-5211.
To book a combo duck and goose hunt with Sonnier, you can call Doug’s Hunting Lodge at 800-888-0960.
If you wish to make a comment or have an anecdote, recipe or story to share, contact John K. Flores at 985-395-5586 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bayou Vista Baptist Church will be holding its annual Wild Game Supper Jan. 26. For more information and tickets, call Ken Cooper at 985-395-9607.