Teal hunting comes to a close on Sunday and the season has so far held true to the results of the pre-season aerial survey. Some hunters did great, some did OK, some never fired a shot. Record and near-record heat, along with minimal rain, kept conditions consistent throughout the season.
“I hunted both days of the opener with only one bird killed on Sunday. I decided to skip the rest of the season waiting to see what big-duck season will bring,” reports Jeremy Jones, who hunts near Delacroix.
Two of the most consistent areas proved to be Buras, in the southeast, and the marshes and agricultural fields around Lake Charles, in the southwest.
Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras started the season with eight-man limits on opening day and reported fairly consistent limits so far through the season. “It’s been consistent. We never had a big migration, but enough to have good days. The high tides have been making it tough, but we didn’t have any bad hunts. You had to work for them and couldn’t miss too much,” Captain Cody Obiol reports.
While some marsh areas suffered losses of submerged aquatic vegetation due to the prolonged river flooding, many in the Buras area report an abundance of feed available and decent amounts of teal.
Rod Haydel of Haydel’s Game Calls has hunted seven days so far this season. “The first week of the season was pretty decent. Once the birds leveled out, we got a few new birds in the area. However, now that we are getting into the last week, we have seen birds getting stale,” he says. Haydel is hunting the marsh areas of southwest Louisiana and says that although he has had done well, the areas of the marsh providing success are very limited. “There are some areas of the rice fields in the southwest that are doing fairly well, and I was told in the last two days that some new birds came through north Louisiana, but there is nothing there to hold those birds,” Haydel adds.
In Saint Bernard Parish, seasoned duck hunter Jared Serigne lamented a stark lack of teal in his area. “Downright terrible for the third season in a row in Caernarvon. There’s a concentration of teal in Pointe a la Hache, but they won’t leave or spread out. They are hunkered down there. As Benny Grunch [a popular south Louisiana singer] said, teal season ‘ain’t dere no more.’”
Although the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries pre-season aerial survey counted twice as many teal as last year’s dismal count, the 127,000 blue-winged teal counted this year was 20 percent below the most recent five-year average of 158,000 and 45 percent below the long-term average of 230,000. The reports of better shooting accordingly came from areas that showed higher concentrations of teal during the survey.
Die-hard hunters will take to the field to close out the 2019 teal season with hopes of better weather and bigger flights to come over the next few months. There is a lot of uncertainty across the flyway as the unprecedented flooding affected many areas and caused large areas of crops to be planted late, or not at all. It remains to be seen how this will impact the progression of ducks throughout Louisiana, but many remain optimistic.