Changing the dates for youth duck-hunting weekends could have unintended and negative consequences, and I urge the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to reconsider.
For almost a decade, the state has set aside the weekend before duck season begins for young hunters. A state waterfowl study proposal, however, would push the youth hunt back to the middle of the season.
Duck season is divided into two segments with a two-week break in between. This provides a valuable resting period for the ducks, allowing them to settle before the second part of the season begins. Moving the youth hunt into this break will eliminate those benefits.
The move also would have a financial impact. Reducing the resting period will increase pressure on the duck population and eventually decrease it. This will jeopardize the success of the annual hunting season and hurt the many Louisianians who have a stake in its success, from the landowners who provide the leases to the hundreds of merchants who depend on hunters to buy gear, food and supplies.
Finally, we must consider the youth for whom the weekend was established. Giving them a chance to hunt before pressure from older, more experienced sportsmen makes the ducks wary of approaching land or a blind has helped transform a generation of youth into responsible adult hunters. In many, it also has instilled a passion for the sport, one that likely will last a lifetime.
Richard E. Zuschlag