Wild Side for Sunday, June 10, 2012

Whether the big change in waterfowl hunting zones approved last week will hold more plusses than minuses for Louisiana hunters might not be known until its four-year run expires on the last day of the duck and goose seasons in early 2016.

The move to a three-zone, two-splits duck season is the major headline on this page, and with the way ducks move into our state, it’s not likely there will be major changes in the season dates in any of the three zones for the upcoming season.

It’s not likely because the northern U.S. and major Canadian breeding and nesting grounds are wet and still loaded with water-filled, waterfowl-friendly potholes.

So, it’s likely Louisiana hunters are in line for another in a long string of 60-day duck seasons, that when divided into two splits, allows Louisiana hunters to take to swamp, ponds, flooded fields and marshes for most of the days between the middle of November until the following January’s last Sunday.

It’s likely the newly configured West Zone could see a later opening, but that’s not etched in stone. The new Coastal Zone will likely have similar splits to the past several years with the possibility of a Nov. 10 opener for the first split, a week or more of no hunting for the split, then a run to a close on the third Sunday in January.

The East Zone likely will open on the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 17 this year), have a short no-hunt split, then go to the final Sunday in January.

The full effect of a three-zone map will come when (not if) the breeding-nesting grounds go through a dry spell, lengthy periods like we’ve seen twice during the past 40 years when duck seasons were shortened to 30 days and daily limits pushed down to three ducks per day.

Naturally, all duck hunters hope that never happens, but they have very little say-so other than prayers and donations to whatever conservation organization that promises to improve duck hunting. Mother Nature holds all the trump cards in this game.

My gut feeling is there will be very few changes for the upcoming season’s dates other than hunters will have to pay attention to zone boundaries, and those are not that difficult to know and understand.

Untamed Americas

National Geographic’s world premiere of a four-part series carrying the title Untamed Americas comes 8 p.m. Sunday on the NatGeo cable station.

“Mountains” is first up at 8 p.m. followed by the second episode “Deserts” at 9 p.m.

Monday night “Coasts” at 8 p.m. and “Forests” follows at 9 p.m.

A preview of the four proves these are four can’t-miss hours covering wildlife and environs through North and South America.

From mountain lions to bats to grizzly bears and bighorn sheep, elk, whales, hummingbirds, their flightless cousins the penguins, toads and alligators show up in these four episodes.

It’s nature raw and powerful.