It was Jan. 7, and because two of the then six men making up the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission in August, duck hunters had only 10 days left to the state’s Coastal Zone season.
That meant an early start to the season, good for some hunters but bad for others, mostly because there was so much water in Vermilion and Cameron parishes marshes, a condition that left available food for dabbling ducks too far under the surface for them to feed. And when you can’t eat, ducks, like people, get groceries somewhere else.
That vote for the early November start to the 60-day coastal season came despite the wishes of most marsh hunters for later dates, days that could take them to January’s last Sunday allowed by federal regulations.
Today, with the coldest cold front of the year, and strong north winds to push some of the coastal waters out — and hopefully to expose the stockpile of submerged aquatic vegetation (duck food) to overwinter ducks — coastal hunters will find out just how bad that August vote hampered what could have been three productive duck-hunting weeks.
That won’t be the case for the 2016-2017 waterfowl season: There was no moaning from the commission when, for the first time, the state’s proposed waterfowl season dates, along with a new two-zone goose hunting plan, were approved Thursday in the notice for next proposed hunting season’s waterfowl dates and those for resident game.
Hunters will have about 90 days to comment on the Nov. 12 opener (November’s second Saturday) for Coastal and West zones duck hunters, and about the same hunting dates set for the new North and South goose zones.
So all the following must carry the word “alleged,” but there’s nothing to allege about the case made by state Enforcement Division Lt. Kenneth Balkom last week.
According to Wildlife and Fisheries, Balkom cited five men, Justin Wren, 34, of Monroe; Christopher Wren of Shreveport, 23; 26-year-old Jordan Wren, reportedly stationed in Atsugi, Japan; Aaron Kilpatrick, 27, of Katy, Texas; and, Joseph Ralston, 27, of McKinney, Texas for “allegedly” shooting rabbits at night.
The kicker here is that Balkom didn’t have to go far to find the five, only step from his home east of Minden, because the five were “allegedly” shooting the rabbits on his property.
Balkom reported being at home about 11 p.m. when he said he heard someone driving a UTV on a nearby road, and said when he went to a window he could see somebody shining a light into his hay field.
After putting on his uniform, he found the five with three rabbits, a spotlight, five weapons, alcohol and marijuana, then booked them into the Claiborne Parish Jail.
Talk about wrong place, wrong time, and these guys better have deep pockets.