Eli Haydel is excited, and that can mean only one of two things is getting ready to happen.
Either he’s getting ready to play music or there’s some sensational news about duck hunting.
If you’ve never heard Haydel play a sax or hit a lick on a clarinet, then there’s a small void in your life that must be filled.
But, Wednesday, that’s not what had the 70-something-year-old, game-call maker jump and jive.
“Did you hear the news? They’re talking about a great duck season, maybe the best we’ve had in a long time. Did you see the numbers?” he said from his Bossier City home.
The response is that standard, “Yes, the numbers are terrific, but we’re going to need a lot of cold weather to push the ducks down. There’s a lot of water in the Midwest with all that flooding and the water is going to hold ducks.”
What Eli said next shows he’s doing more than reading website postings: “Yeah, but the ducks are going to need food to keep them up there. I’ve talked with friends up North, and they said the farmers can’t plant. The fields are too wet. There might not be enough food to keep them having to head down here.”
That’s the hope for Haydel and some of the folks who had poor hunting the past two seasons.
True, the numbers are terrific — 45.55 million ducks — in the Federal Duck Breeding Population Survey. It’s the highest May breeding count estimate since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service teamed with the Canadian Wildlife Service in 1955 to estimate ducks on breeding grounds in Canada and the northern U.S.
The individual counts of the 10 most studied species show the most mallards since 1999, the most blue-wing teal, shovelers (spoonbills) and redhead ducks, the highest count of pintails since 1980 and what could be a reserve in the downward trend for scaup (the most since 1999).
Even better is that habitat conditions on the breeding grounds appear in great shape: The 8.13 million breeding ponds are the second-most since 1955, which bodes well for next year’s breeding period, too.
There’s more to reading and digesting the survey’s numbers for Louisiana hunters.
Come Thursday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission will approve duck and goose seasons dates and bag limits for the state’s two waterfowl zones.
There are proposed changes: East Zone hunters will give up seven days from what has been usual three-weekend (16 days) first split. Those days will be added to the start of second split to give East Zone hunters a 51-day straight shot to the last Sunday in January end of the season.
The second major proposal will move the youth-only waterfowl-hunt weekends to the middle of the splits in both East and West zones instead of the more recent move to allow hunters 16 and younger to get into blinds the weekend before the zones’ opening days.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ proposed 60-day season dates — announced at the LWFC’s July meeting — include:
??West Zone: Nov. 12–Dec. 4; Dec. 17–Jan. 22. Youth weekend, Dec. 10-11.
??East Zone: Nov. 19–27; Dec. 10–Jan. 29. Youth weekend, Dec. 3-4.
State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds will take public comment on these proposed dates through Wednesday. Reynolds can be reached at (225) 765-0456. His email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The USFWS has posted its annual Breeding Count Survey video on its website.
It’s a can’t miss for avid waterfowlers.
You can find it at: http://flyways.us/status-of-waterfowl/video-report.