The easiest way would be to disregard the Bart Yakupzack’s comment during Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting. Maybe too easy.
There have been times in the 25 years covering the LWFC commission members have brought their personal preferences into discussions covering topics of fishing, hunting, public access, wildlife, forestry and land use among the many rules and regulations covered by the seven-member commission.
True, too, is that while you could suspect that a dedicated, nearly life-long Ducks Unlimited member sitting on the commission would vote down any attempt to move money away from DU projects, there was always some degree of deniability to cover those tracks, that DU would spend, even enhance these state funds, for all the right reasons in all the right places.
That written, other than red snapper management, the biggest debate during the past three months among Louisiana outdoorsmen has been ducks, more pointedly the duck seasons.
Three years of duck-hunter surveys unceasingly point to the fact that Coastal Zone hunters want later dates to take to rice fields and marshes. And late-season dates mean opening the season later.
Not this year, not when Yakupzack, a Lake Charles attorney, led the charge for Nov. 7 Coastal Zone opener.
To further understand the debate, last year’s season opened on November’s third Saturday, Nov. 15. A second Saturday opener would have put the date at Nov. 8, and Yakupzack was quick to point out Thursday that hunters get three opening dates closer to Nov. 8 and three openers closer to Nov. 14 during a seven-year calendar cycle.
Apparently, Yakupzack’s still-unnamed buddies didn’t like that Nov. 15 date, and it was apparent he was determined, despite hunters’ preferences, to move it up this year when the waterfowl seasons were decided during the LWFC’s August meeting. He drew support from Chad Courville, a commission member from Lafayette and a land manager for Miami Corporation, which leases vast waterfowl hunting acreage in the southwest parishes.
It would have been mere speculation about Yakupzack’s motives until he declared that the Nov. 7 date was a “pay-back year.”
A “pay-back year” for whom? Certainly not for the hunters on a warm Saturday morning with, according to last week’s state waterfowl survey, something just shy of two million ducks that were in Louisiana for last season’s opener.
You see, there’s a reason, especially in this El Ninõ period, when cold weather — duck-hunting conditions — arrive here later. A Delta Waterfowl staffer here for the LWFC meeting said there still were lots of ducks to hunt in North Dakota. This week’s two cold fronts and 50-degree mornings sure would make hunting better Nov. 14, not. Nov. 7.