The special 16-day teal season opens Saturday.
Do you want the bad news or the good news first?
Larry Reynolds, the state’s Waterfowl Study leader, didn’t leave us with that option.
“In southwest Louisiana, we only saw a couple of good groups, and in southeast Louisiana we didn’t find any. We did not see a hundred teal on the survey lines in the southeast,” Reynolds said after spending the last three days flying over the state’s duck habitat.
That said, it appears hunters taking to Catahoula Lake should be smiling as long as the teal Reynolds said he saw there stay put.
“We saw lots on Catahoula Lake, and on the East Cove Unit in Cameron Parish, and another good concentration of teal northeast of Gueyday and another north of Welsh,” Reynolds said.
The problem, he said, could be that there might be too much water in the marshes in Vermilion and Cameron parishes.
“The most teal we saw were in the ‘ag’ region (rice fields) in the southwest. There’s water there and it looks quite a bit better than last year,” Reynolds said, adding, “Then we flew the Atchafalaya Delta and the habitat looks pretty good, but there weren’t any birds.
“That’s an area that’s almost a guarantee three birds a man on opening day and we flew the whole thing and did not see a bird,” Reynolds said. “Hopefully, what hunters will find on opening weekend will leave them saying that guy must be blind. Teal do that. You don’t see them one day and they’re there the next.”
Lots of folks are sending our warnings about getting into the marshes for the teal season.
More than one retriever owner has called to warn fellow hunters about taking their prized dogs for the 16-day run. While setting up makeshift blinds last weekend, six hunters said they saw numerous alligators, some in place where they’ve seen only one or two in previous Septembers.
“You don’t want to lose a dog like that,” Barry Magee said. “The gators were pretty aggressive, and if you’re going to use your dog, keep him close and don’t let him go on long retrieves.”
Even the Center for Disease Control is getting into the act and sent out an advisory to outdoorsmen about venturing out after tropical storms. In part, the advisory warns about mosquitoes and the need to use, and reapply often, insect repellent. The incidence of West Nile virus is especially high this year and products with enough DEET and appliances like ThermaCell are musts for this and future weekends in Louisiana’s marshes.
Two reminders are coming from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
First, that life jackets are required for anyone using a tiller-operated outboard of 10 or more horsepower.
Second, that the Atchafalaya Delta, Joyce, Manchac, Pass-a-Loutre, Pointe aux Chenes and Salvador-Timkin wildlife management areas have limited access areas, acreage inside the WMAs where “internal combustion engines are not allowed.”
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