Since paying close attention to the how a duck season’s dates are figured for Louisiana, then asking the whys for about the past 30 years, it’s amazing how we Sportsman’s Paradise hunters continually want to tinker with success.
Yes, there are a few years when our state has not led the country in the number of ducks taken, but those years are few and far between.
Louisiana led the list again last duck season. Yep, we beat out all the northern hunters who get first shots at migrating birds, beat states in the Pacific Flyway with their 107-day seasons, and beat Texas and Arkansas, a state that brags that its Stuttgart is the “duck hunting capital of the world.”
Yet, we complain, and to quell that disquiet, the biologists leading our state’s waterfowl efforts tried to find ways to give all hunters all they want.
Fact is the biologists who serve and have served in that capacity can’t, only because, as all of should know by now, Mother Nature gives us no guarantees.
The perfect alignment of the duck-hunting stars here begins with a lack of late-summer rain in the Midwest giving little water to hold migrating ducks.
Follow that with the combination of extra-cold fronts moving through the Northern and Midwestern states in late October and early November, then enough snow, or ice, to cover the agricultural fields in America’s heartland, the effects of which push ducks from their breeding and sends them farther south in search of food to restore the energy they’ve used fleeing the ills cold, north winds have on their species.
Then we have to have healthy marshes and wet-enough ag fields here to lay out a welcome mat for these migrants.
Subtract any of those factors from this equation and you wind up with no ducks, or few enough ducks to crank up the complaining machine, days like we had three seasons ago when our state didn’t lead the world in duck-hunting success.
That next year it was decided to break from the successful two-zone, two-split, duck-hunting framework, and opt for three zones — Coastal, West and East — and retain two splits. That was supposed to help quiet the moaning. During Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting, we found out it didn’t.
The mistake we made was putting the entire coast in the Coastal Zone, when, in fact, we have west coastal zone hunters and east coastal zone hunters. Last year, when the commission voted the latest Coastal Zone opener in 20 years, it’s apparent they pleased only the eastern coastal guys, and the commission’s western coastal representatives pushed a move to shift to an early opener in November.
Maybe we outthought the room two years ago, when, it appears, we shouldn’t have tinkered with success and stuck with an East Zone and a West Zone. That was simple. This three-zone thing has become complicated.