Teal season opens Saturday and, as feared, Tropical Storm Lee will affect its special 16-day run through the heart of September.
While there’s no initial report of damage to what were lush marshes (despite the marsh fire in eastern New Orleans) and plentiful and thriving submerged vegetation, eyes-in-the-marshes scouts came back Tuesday with a not-so-good outlook.
“There’s water everywhere,” Willie Prescott said after his trip to the Biloxi Marsh area. “I couldn’t believe it. Teal were there, but it’s going to be tough to find a good spot to hunt … places where the birds will be concentrated.”
During the past three weeks, mostly after three north-wind fronts, teal were spotted in marshes from Little Chenier in Cameron Parish all the way east into the Biloxi Marsh and down-the-Mississippi River locations like Pass a Loutre and Buras.
Rarer still was a record-setting cold front (see Baton Rouge record lows of 55 and 56 Tuesday and Wednesday mornings) that chased Lee to the east and brought even more teal to south Louisiana. Wildfires in drought-stricken Texas helped push even more birds to Louisiana’s water and food.
The only major teal area with problems are in the rice-growing southwestern parishes, not because there was too much rain, but maybe there was too little.
“We had lots of rain, but it was so dry over here that the five or six inches of rain we got soaked in,” Stan Loewer said Wednesday a couple of hours after he and his dad, Ray, surveyed fields around Eunice.
“We had birds (teal) before the wind, but it seemed the winds pushed the teal out of here,” he said. “There is water in some of the fields, and maybe we saw 30 teal, but there’s not a single duck on our family’s place.”
For anyone taking to fields and marshes for opening day, reminders are that all migratory bird hunters need to complete the Harvest Information Program questionnaire and receive an HIP certificate to hunt legally. The daily limit is four in the aggregate of bluewing, greenwing and cinnamon teal.
And there is no truth to the rumor that tree ducks — called “squealers” by some hunters — can be taken during the September season. Tree ducks are not on list.
Danny Wray, the organizer of the Sept. 17 Ride the Bull Kayak Tournament, said Lee caused little damage to Grand Isle.
Wray said fishermen had taken to the bridges along La. 1 between Port Fourchon and Grand Isle and were hauling in redfish on almost every cast.
He said the action was so good that Enforcement Division agents were called and were issuing over-the-limit citations.
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration staff on Grand Isle photographed some erosion along the western point of the island. Sand on the front of the berm from Caminada Pass to the beach in front of Bridge Side Marina appears to be washed away to the “burrito” bags that form the base for the berm.
Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne said while Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents weren’t summoned for rescue work by local agencies, agents continue to patrol south Louisiana waterways.
“We just want the public, especially fishermen and hunters heading out for the opening of the teal season, to be aware that winds, rain and high water move a lot of material into the water.
“The need to be careful and need to wear life jackets at all times after storms.”