Despite top-drawer marsh and wetlands conditions in the eastern and south-central coastal parishes, the first 14 days of the 16-day special September teal season were a bust.
There was a different story in the southwestern rice fields and marshes, where daily six-teal limits were the rule and not the exception.
Well, to have a teal hunt, hunters have to have teal, and what few teal deciding to migrate south along the Mississippi Flyway were spread across with hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat from the lower Atchafalaya east to the Mississippi River and to the Pontchartrain Basin.
A mid-September estimate of teal in the state showed the southwestern marshes had as many as seven times the number of birds as did the Southeast, and with a noticeable lack of cold fronts pushing the birds from the upper Midwest, there was little hope of more teal flying into the state.
By the end of the 2017 special season, four cold fronts had moved into south Louisiana, the first coming near the end of August, another three days before the season opener, and two more during the season.
The predominance of teal in the southwest confirmed a pattern discovered by Louisiana waterfowl biologists six decades ago, that teal and other early migrating waterfowl fly south along the Central Flyway states, and Louisiana is the terminus of the Mississippi Flyway (east of the Central).
Thursday’s trip into the Delta National Wildlife Refuge showed the dearth of teal along the east side of the Mississippi River south of Venice. No more than 30 teal were seen on the five-hour tour.
The lack of birds through the season’s first 10 days showed in the lack of hunters. No hunters showed Wednesday on the Atchafalaya Delta, Pass a Loutre and Salvador-Timkin Wildlife Management areas, and only five hunters took to blinds in the Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA.
It left guides in Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes hoping for a little push of birds on Thursday’s widespread rain and light north winds.
Cajun Fishing Adventures’ Ryan Lambert said it appeared most of the early migrating teal pushed through the Midwest into eastern Texas — Sabine Lake was loaded with teal last weekend — but Lambert added, “It doesn’t take much to push teal to the south. A little north wind is all they need.”
Even with two cold front pushing temperatures into the 40s and 50s in the Dakotas, bluewing teal were lingering north well into last Monday and Tuesday.
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission will consider a Declaration of Emergency to amend existing regulations on the importation of deer and all other animals in the cervid family to “include Louisiana Lands East of the Mississippi River in East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes.”
The three parishes were involved in Wildlife and Fisheries’ intensive study to determine the presence of chronic wasting disease following the discovery of a CWD-infected deer in a nearby Mississippi County in January.
Other items on the commission’s agenda include hearing a report on the LDWF’s freshwater fish hatcheries, considering the dates for the 2019 Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program and new houseboat regulations, renaming the Louisiana Room inside LDWF state headquarters to honor the late Joe Herring, a longtime LDWF biologist and former LDWF secretary, and honoring national champions from the Archery in Louisiana Schools Program.
The meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday, LDWF headquarters on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. A live audio/video stream will be available on website: Gotowebinar.com.
New FFL reporting
A new state law involving federal firearms dealers passed during the 2018 Legislative Session and takes effect Monday.
The law requires FFL dealers to report any and all denials of firearm purchases through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to the sheriff of the parish in which the attempted purchase occurred and to the Louisiana Automated Victim Notification System.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation identified the state’s program coordinator as Marshall Menou, and Menou’s contact information, phone (225) 342-1894 and email: Marshall.Menou@lcle.la.gov.
Hunters for the Hungry director Jimmy Anthony reported the annual Clean Out Your Freezer Day yielded 3,290 pounds of frozen game and fish for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, that Shreveport area sportsmen added 1,700 pounds for the needy in the northwestern parishes, and Alexandria’s effort an additional 400 pounds.
Ahead next weekend is the COYFD effort in Lafayette.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced last week some $50 million in funding spread out to states through the State Wildlife Grant Program to support non-game fish and wildlife State Wildlife Action Plans.
The LDWF will get $730,608.
“This funding is an investment in the future of our wildlife,” Zinke said. “When we can recover species before they are listed under the Endangered Species Act, that means more federal resources for the other species that need it most.”
Florida’s 2018 Lionfish Challenge is over, and that state’s Conservation Commission learned last week a total of 28,260 lionfish were removed from Florida waters by recreational and commercial divers.
The recreational winner John McCain was named “Lionfish King” after taking 1,137 of the invasive, nonnative fish. Ron Surrency hauled in 5.017 pounds to earn the commercial sector title.
Lionfish, which have no natural predators on reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, also are found off Louisiana's coast.