Check this weekend’s rainy, windy weather forecast, and someone you know will say something like, “It looks like good duck weather.”
But what about duck hunters, who, by the thousands, will invade the state’s Coastal Zone for Saturday’s opening morning of the first split of yet another in a two-decades-long series of 60-day duck seasons.
And what about goose hunters in all three Louisiana zones who will wake to seasons for specklebellies, blues, snows and Ross’ geese? Canada geese are legal to take that same day in the state’s East and Coastal zones. Young hunters in the West Zone have their special one-day in blinds Saturday, too, in advance of the Nov. 14 duck-season opener in that zone.
While most hunters will brave the wind and rain for a chance to be in a blind for the opener, there’s a third ingredient that’ll be missing — the chill, the bracing north wind that almost assures Louisiana hunters of success. That won’t come until Sunday when a cold front blowing in Saturday will bring a chill, but only a chill, to the marshes and rice fields that dominate Coastal Zone waterfowl habitat.
While east winds are in the early Saturday forecast for the Central Coast and into the lower Mississippi and lower Pontchartrain basins — and most hunters don’t like east winds — the northerly breezes coming on the approaching cold front almost assure hunters that more ducks will move into the coastal areas.
State biologist Shane Granier’s report on last weekend’s youth-only waterfowl weekend in the Coastal Zone gave some indication of what hunters can expect to find for the opener.
Granier posts numbers gleaned from the state’s four major waterfowl wildlife management areas, and familiar early seasons species, gray ducks, bluewing and greenwing teal and spoonies, showed up on his waterfowl harvest sheet.
Pass a Loutre WMA, south of Venice, is holding ducks: the estimate was that all youth hunters took limits there. Bluewings (44 percent) dominated last weekend’s take with gray ducks (35 percent) a close second.
There was a 2.8 per-hunter take on the Atchafalaya Delta WMA and it was three ducks per youth on the Pointe aux Chenes WMA. Grays made up 34 percent of the take on the Atchafalaya and 42 percent at Pointe aux Chenes.
Veteran hunters expect those numbers to increase with more hunters moving more birds around this weekend than last.
There’s one factor for the approaching opening weekend that was missing in some places last year — water.
Dry rice-field acreage dominated the landscape early last season. Heavy rains during the last two weekends have fields and marshes wet south of Interstate 10.