For a few moments waterfowl seasons held the floor during Tuesday’s lengthy, six-hour Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting.
Those minutes got lost in too-long discussion of carrying weapons in fields, forests, swamps and marshes at night during the hunting season, and as many as 40 changes — some major, some minor — to the 2019-2020 season dates, and the outline of how the state plans to end the thorny 16-year ban in issuing oyster leases.
Yet those few minutes could bring signal a shift in the now two decades-old paradigm of duck and goose hunting in Louisiana.
After another 60-day duck season and a 70-plus-days goose season were set out by the state’s Wildlife Division, commission member Bart Yakupzack of Lake Charles took issue with the length of the specklebelly goose season and the several years-old six-teal limit.
Teal first: This wasn’t the first time Yakupzack brought up the six-teal limit, and took action this year — after a below-average special September teal season and regular duck season — to reduce the daily bag to four teal.
Yakupzack said he made the motion to amend the daily limit to raise awareness — “to draw out the most public comment,” he said — adding he had no “hidden agenda” to the move other than suggesting more time in blinds and more shooting might not be in the best overall interest of the waterfowling public.
If this amendment clears the public comment without change, then what’s not clear is if the four-teal limit will apply to the 60-day regular duck season. Except for a reduction from two-a-day take of pintail — the limit was reduced to one per day — the 2019-2020 daily bag limit is the same as the current season’s six-duck-per-day framework, which allows for taking six teal.
His motion was approved by a 6-1 vote, and Yakupzack likely will have his wish when public comment is taken on the issue during the next two months.
Geese next: Yakupzack proposed a specklebelly goose season to run concurrent with the duck season, a move that would trim the season by more than 10 days.
“We need to see if we can pump the brakes on this (long season),” Yakupzack said, further explaining the discussion about the lengthy season and the two-per-day take of specklebellies was held three years ago.
State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds told the commission that while goose zones can be changed year to year — it’s a five-year run for duck zones — it's likely too late to change anything for the next goose season. It’s because those changes needed to be forwarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in August, 2019.
And, Reynolds said, trying to fit the state’s North and South Goose zones into the state’s East, West and Coastal waterfowl zones presents a nightmare for setting seasons.
Yakupzack said goose hunters in the southwestern parishes have voiced concerns about the absence of specklebellies in their rice fields and the marshes, and fear this species remain in other locations after decades of overwintering in those ag fields and marshes.
As reported in Thursday’s Advocate Outdoors, the fear of chronic wasting disease entering the state is a front-and-center topic for state wildlife biologists and Wildlife and Fisheries veterinarian Dr. Jim LaCour.
Two proposals for next season prohibit anything but the meat and cleaned skulls and antlers from deer taken east of the Mississippi River in East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes.
The second offering covers the entire state: deer hunters will be banned from having and using scent lures made from deer urine. It’s because urine and other bodily fluids from CWD infected deer is the main way CWD is spread into wildlife herds.
For now, public comment on any and all hunting seasons and regulations, including those for wildlife management areas, can be made via email to LDWF Wildlife Division biologist Tommy Tuma: email@example.com.
A series of public hearing spread across the state begins in late February.
The proposed 2019-2020 hunting seasons can be found on the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website: wlf.louisiana.gov.
One of the new provisions in the Coast Guard’s budget this year requires manufacturers, distributors and dealers involved in making, stocking and rigging boats to install cutoff switches in new boats “…less than 26 feet overall in length and capable of developing 115 pounds or more of static thrust.”
The new law covers most any engine or motor, and the switch must meet American Boat and Yacht Council Standards.
Another part of the Frank Lobiondo Coast Guard Authorization of Act of 2018 helped all who enter their boats or other vessels into the U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center. The new reg lengthens the time the certificate will be valid from one to five years.
Pursuit & B.A.S.S.
If you went looking for The Bassmasters TV Show and couldn’t find it in its usual channel, then go to the Pursuit Channel.
B.A.S.S. and Pursuit signed a “multi-year agreement” to air 26 episodes Saturdays in the first and second quarters this year. Each show repeating the following Sunday morning.
The Bassmaster Elite Series and Bassmaster Classic will continue to air on ESPN2.