Haydels hard to beat
There are likely many families that can rival the Haydels when it comes to anticipation for the upcoming waterfowl season, but darned few than can beat them.
Papa Eli and sons Rob, Kelly and Cliff have trouble concentrating on much else in the two weeks, especially when it comes to the “other” side of waterfowl seasons here and overseas.
That’s because their family name is on every game call shipped from their Bossier City operation, an internationally known game-call business that shares worldwide recognition with other Louisiana-based calls like Duck Commander and Faulk’s. So when it came time to start talking about the upcoming duck season — the youth weekend in two of the state’s three zones runs Saturday and Sunday, and the 60-day season’s first split opens the following weekend — Kelly Haydel was more than willing Sunday during the final hours of Cabela’s Waterfowl Weekend.
The Haydels hunt near Calcasieu Lake in the state’s southwest corner, and like most Louisiana waterfowlers measure success (or lack thereof) on a benchmark year, 2005, when hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged every corner of coastal Louisiana.
“Good years and bad years, but the bad years came when we had droughts,” Kelly said. “This year looks good. We’ve got water. There’s (duck) food, and it’s getting cold up north at the right time.”
The “up north” part is critical: “The Midwest is dry, and that means there will be fewer places for ducks. We’ve got good water in our place, and that means the ducks should move here and find a good home,” he said.
Last weekend’s cold front turned out to shove more ducks into the state. Overnight freezing temperatures and strong north winds were felt as far south as northern Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Reports from the southwest marshes told of increased flights of greenwing teal, gray ducks and pintail. A few more wood ducks were seen along with several large movements of poule d’eau and specklebelly geese.
Along the state’s eastern marshes, areas hit hard by Hurricane Isaac, only teal and gray ducks were reported.
Standing next to a stack of shotshells prompted a question.
What advice can a veteran like Kelly Haydel give to hunters looking for a new shell to shoot this year?
Haydel was quick to the point, and it was more along the lines of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage.
“There a lots of shells today, and sometimes it doesn’t pay you to change shells because it forces you to change what you do with your shotgun,” he said.
“If you’re going to change to a faster shell, and some are shooting at more than 15 hundred feet per second now, then you’re going to have to change the way you shoot. You’re going to have to change your leads and maybe the choke in your gun.”
That’s why his next step is important. Haydel said its important for hunters to pattern their gun. Take it to almost any shooting range, set up a pattern board, step back 30 yards and fire the shell you’d like to use. The pattern made by the pellets will tell you the density of the shot at that distance. Different shells and different chokes will leave different patterns on that board.
“It’s necessary to determine how that new shell performs in your gun,” Haydel said. “Changing shells isn’t always the best for your gun, but you won’t know that until you fire them before the season.”