Wildlife management areas lag in first-week teal harvest _lowres

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Six Baton Rouge hunters, including Trevor Bailey, left, and Elliot Boudreaux, combined to take this haul of 36 teal in the first 45 minutes of Saturday's opening day of the 2015 special September teal season from rice fields northwest of Welch.

The numbers for the state’s four major public duck hunting areas are crunched after the first two record-keeping days of the teal season, and these spots are falling far short of the haul hunters found in the first days of the special 16-day season that started Saturday.

State biologist Shane Granier sent along information showing an estimated 800 hunters on Atchafalaya Delta, Pass a Loutre, Salvador and Pointe-aux-Chenes wildlife management areas took an estimated 1,157 teal. The best per-hunter average came from Pass a Loutre, the downriver expanse south and east of Venice, where 70 hunters brought home 172 bluewing teal Saturday. Other numbers showed 405 hunters (607 teal) on Pointe-aux-Chenes south of Houma averaged 1.5 teal per hunter, and 305 hunters (355 teal) averaged 1.2 birds on Atchafalaya Delta. Salvador had 20 hunters taking 23 teal.

Wednesday’s numbers improved: Atchafalaya Delta’s 15 hunters took 55 teal to lead the chart showing 65 hunters taking 171 birds on the four WMAs.

What usually happens on Atchafalaya Delta is that spring floods alter the landscape so dramatically from year to year that it takes hunters several days to scout out the new areas holding the just-right food to hold ducks.

Another point taken from Granier’s report is that bluewings make up the vast majority of the teal showing up in the daily take. Bluewings are an early migrating bird. Greenwings usually show up in bigger numbers for the November start of the “big” duck season.

Baton Rouge hunter Michael Montalbano said the ultra-successful hunts he and five buddies enjoyed in the rice fields near Welch fit that pattern.

“We had our 36 teal in about 45 minutes Saturday and Sunday, and I took the only greenwing in the bunch,” Montalbano said after the hunt at the Little Lacassine Duck Club. “Some of the guys stayed to hunt this week and they’ve had limits Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. There are a lot of teal in the rice.”

Unlike reports from the marshes south of Welch, Montalbano said teal came in big numbers into the decoys spread out in 6-8 inches of water in the rice fields. Marsh hunters in the southwestern parishes reported seeing smaller flights of teal.

Similar reports of small groups of teal came from the marshes on the east side of the Mississippi River from Buras south to the Venice area, where the volume of opening morning shotgunning indicated teal had arrived on the cold front that blew through to the Louisiana coast late Friday, but the huge flocks were broken into small groups by the numbers of duck hunters.

The special season runs through sundown Sept. 27.

Bowhunting reminders

The deer season for archery hunters begins Saturday in State Deer Areas 3, 8 and 10, and after years in the program, hunters should know they have to have tags before setting out for the hunt, and, if successful, they need to use one of the six tags on a deer before taking their trophy from the field.

There are a couple of other reminders, the first of which is to bring insect repellent. A handful of hunters who’ve been scouting and/or putting in food plots for firearms season confirmed what State Deer Study leader Scott Durham noted in his deer season report earlier this month in Advocate Outdoors — gnats are everywhere, and in the places they aren’t, ticks and mosquitoes have taken their place.

Second is the new law that allows bowhunters taking their sport onto private lands to “lawfully carry any caliber firearm,” during the state’s archery season. A previous regulation limited bowhunters to carry nothing larger than a .22 caliber pistol. Senate Bill 212 was signed into law June 29, and allows pistols, rifles and shotguns for personal protection.