LOUISIANA WATERFOWL ALLIANCE
15 February 2017    Lafayette Wetlands Center

 

  • Minutes of October meeting approved
  • Secretary’s report – 16 paid members. Had 39 last year
  • Special Service award – still need picture of Rock
  • Website and FB – Nobody is interested in working on this, need to post meetings and minutes, and provide information on what we do
  • Membership – need more than 15 members, Charles to work on letter and Jay will get Ray to help send it out
  • LDWF meetings on WMAs – need to have LWA present at these:
    Feb 20 – Ponchatouloa,
    Feb. 21 – New Orleans,
    Feb. 22 – New Iberia,
    Feb. 23 – Ruston,
    Feb. 24 – Lake Charles
    Feb. 25  – Alexandria; LWF has resolutions already
  • Status of Rest areas – a major concern of LWA – also concern is Limited Access Areas
  • Limited Access Areas – Elizabet Bordelon has discussed expansion of these areas
  • Board vacancies – nobody objected to continuing their positions
  • Lafayette Outdoor Expo – July 28-30 – discussed calling contest, etc – never had any increase in membership at this event – lot of work for little benefit, therefore will pass this year
  • Catahoula Lake management discussion – still nothing on when it will be presented at Commission – mention phone call from Don Clair asking about our major concern, will not add blind fee to proposal

 

There have been many descriptions of duck hunters over the years and most are not flattering. So I thought I would
take a typical day from this past duck season and try and capture the true essence of a duck hunter. Hopefully, it will
help explain the joy, challenge, and rewards that a duck hunter receives each time he goes on a hunt, and at the
same time provide a little insight into why we do what we do.

 

It’s January 4th,

 

I woke up and left my warm bed at 4 a.m. Rain mixed with ice was beginning to fall, the temperature read 22 degrees
on my porch thermometer and the wind was from the South-East at around 20 mph. A typical duck hunting day,
except we seldom get easterly winds.

 

I started the coffee then returned to the bedroom to scrounge through my hunting clothes. My wife looked up from
the bed and gave me the same heart-warming send off she usually does, …. “you must be crazy” she muttered.

 

“Well, if I am, there are 7 more just like me waiting at the camp,” I replied.

 

She closed her eyes then rolled over, grateful for the extra room left in the bed.

 

I stopped out on the highway at the 24-hour gas station to fill up my pickup and refill my coffee cup. All the while the
clerk suspiciously looked over my camouflage attire and black grease paint on my face. I noticed him closely watching
me as I stepped back in my pickup to drive through total darkness and icy rain to our duck camp while constantly
watching the road and ditches for deer that apparently love to jump in front of my vehicle.

 

I finally reached my destination, The Mallard Inn Duck Camp. Which already held five other sleepy-eyed hunters, two
smelly Labrador retrievers, and the ever present scent of lake mud, sweat, and burned biscuits hanging in the air like
heavy pollution?

 

I walked in, offered a, “Good Morning”, greeting, which was answered with two grunts, a screw-you, and a
resounding belch.

 

“Want breakfast?” Bob asked. I said “Yes,” and he threw a rock-hard biscuit that bounced off my hands ricocheted
across the dining table and hit a drowsy hunter just below his worry lines.

 

“Good hands,” the biscuit thrower grumbled. “You should be a wide receiver for the Tigers.”

 

I retrieved the biscuit, exchanged a few more endearing terms that I would never print in a family friendly website. Sat
down at the table to enjoy another cup of coffee along with the rock-hard biscuit.

 

Bob got up, looked out the window and said, “Daylight will be coming soon, think it’s time to go to the blind”.

 

Our trek to our tethered duck boats began as we set out to provide duck-meat nourishment for our families that
costs several thousand dollars a pound after you factor in all expenses. We are all loaded up with our blind bags,
shotguns, shells, extra 6-volt and 12-volt batteries, and the ever present thermos of coffee. Dawn was just breaking
as we all started our walk down the 300 foot home-made dock that was bouncing on its barrels like a thrill ride at
SixFlags amusement park. This same walk seemed a lot easier 40 years ago.

 

We moved through the darkness along the icy dock which was pitching up and down in the 20 mph winds. Eager
Labrador retrievers added to the dangers of negotiating the slippery surface by constantly bumping our legs while
awaiting to load into a boat.

 

Under these adverse conditions you can count on each hunter being especially vigilant, constantly watching his
fellow hunter, not wanting to miss seeing someone slip, trip, fall, or slide into the cold lake. This type of face-first
plunge would have drawn hysterical laughter from all of the hunters and duck blind conversation for all our
remaining years.

 

Now let me make a suggestion to young hunters that still have many years of hunting with their buddies; never, and
I repeat never, do something that may be classified as stupid on a duck hunt. You will never hear the end of it!
This brings up the subject of duck blind conversations. This is a series of talks about memorable hunts, and
embarrassing moments that happened to someone else on a hunt, or in our case, the conversation might turn to the
morning that Will fell off the dock and sunk up so deep in the mud that it took 3 of us and a hoist to get him unstuck
and back onto the walk, or the morning that Kim fell off the blind while trying to kick his lab for retrieving decoys.
Anyway, back to the hunt at hand. We were all loaded into our boats and headed out to the blind.

 

This morning Will and I are hunting with Bob. Now let me stop right here. …. Bob has this uncanny knack or talent of being able to negotiate in total darkness, through the thickest stump field without ever hitting a stump. Yet the return trip, in broad daylight, is quite dangerous as he seems to have an uncanny knack of being able to hit every stump.

 

So here we go cutting through 3-ft high waves toward the blind. About half way there, I hear Bob say, “It’s too rough
to hunt the open water tank blind, let’s go hunt the woods blind.”

 

We all agreed that under these windy conditions it might be more productive and protected to hunt our woods blind.

 

“We need to swing by the tank blind and pick up a “mojo” for the woods blind.” Bob said.

 

Now a “mojo” is any brand of battery operated spinning-wing decoy, which we all have several that are mounted on
top of metal pipes that are driven into the lake bottom. These motorized spinners are strategically placed among our
stools of floating decoys so that their movement will attract ducks from all directions.

 

OK … picture this, the boat is bouncing up and down like a rubber ball as Bob skillfully maneuvers the boat up next to
a mojo mounted on top of one of these metal pipes. I reach out and grab the pipe just as the boat suddenly dips
down between swales. The pole bends, I loose my grip, and the mojo catapults off the pole out into the dark abyss.

 

“That’s $149 you owe me,” Bob says.

 

“Ain’t worth that much. That’s the one that Will shot yesterday.” I replied as we continued on to collect another
spinner.

 

You see, during yesterday’s hunt, a duck flew in over the decoys and Will put one of his infamous F.F.T’s on it. The
duck flew past one of the mojo’s and Will put so many holes in that spinner that the wings began to whistle as they
turned.

 

Having finally made a successful retrieve, and with spinner at hand we head towards the woods blind.

 

Thanks to Bob’s skillful maneuvering through the stools of decoys to get our spinning-wing mojo, we now are
dragging a dozen decoys behind us. They have gotten wrapped around the motor, caught on the boat, and tangled in
the prop. We continue on, leaving a single-file trail of decoys in our wake.

 

Arriving at the woods blind, We place our spinner into position on a metal pole and climbed into the blind.

 

Our woods blind was built using 55-gallon drums as floatation. It is set in a productive spot with carefully laid out
stools of decoys. Earlier in the season we had skillfully arranged our decoys to imitate ducks resting and feeding in a
spot that was better than the other million spots all over the lake – or at least that’s what we were determined to
make the ducks think.

 

In the Blind we sat on our homemade bench with shotguns loaded and duck calls in hand as we scanned the sky and
waited for a flock of mallards to appear.

 

It was raining, the wind was blowing, the blind was bouncing, and ice was beginning to coat the brush and moss used
as camouflage. Our collars were turned up while we sat and sat and sat.

 

After sitting three hours in this uncomfortable place, Bob suggested, “Well, I guess the ducks are not coming.” so we
packed up our gear, loaded back into the boat and eased out to retrieve our recently mounted mojo.

 

Once again Bob artfully maneuvered the boat up next to the mojo pole, I grabbed the mojo, yanked upward to
dislodge it from the pole. It had formed a layer of ice which caused it to slip from my hands launching up into the air
and back down to the bottom of the lake.

 

“That’s now $258 you owe me,” Bob said, as he hit a stump with the motor.

 

After several near-death collisions with hidden stumps we made our way back to the dock. Once the boat was
tethered we began the heart-testing trek back up the long, now ice covered dock, each with 50 pounds of equipment
strapped over our shoulders and a disappointed Labrador retriever that was apparently still trying to trip me.

 

Suddenly I stepped on a extremely slippery spot, slide into Bob causing him to loose his grip on a new 12-volt battery
that plunged off the dock and to the bottom of the lake.

 

“You now owe me $366,” he muttered.

 

Now a psychiatrist might offer a reason for full-grown men willingly spending a portion of their lives like this. Healers
of our mind’s problems might find a scientific term for this behavior, they might even write a thesis for one of them
nut-case journals. A psychiatrist might even conclude: “One reason they put their bodies and minds through extreme torture and return year after year to continue this punishment is because they are crazy!”

 

I finally arrived back home, cold, wet, and muddy. I walked into the house and my loving wife of over 30+ years looked at me and said, “you are crazy”.

 

She also told me that Bob had called and she was mailing him a check for the $366 that I owe him.

 

It was then that she looked straight into my wind burned eyes and said. “You need to find another hunting partner,
we really can’t afford for you to hunt with Bob anymore.”

 

According to Dr. Larry Reynolds, Waterfowl Study Leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the per hunter kill on the four Wildlife Management Areas in Southeast Louisiana that do regular bag-checks was down about 25-30% but in Southwest Louisiana at the White Lake Wetland Conservation Area bag was the same or better than in the past. The private Coastal Club in the same are was similar to last year but the Cherry Ridge club was down about 30% according to one of the land managers.

A few things are certain. Warm temperatures and extensive flooding shifted the mid-winter population estimates to the north. Louisiana and Arkansas were below average; Mississippi was right at average; Missouri was over twice their long-term average; and Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky were above average.

Dr. Reynolds is fairly certain that hunting was below average, but he has received few direct complaints. He suspects that below average hunting has to do with the combination of extensive flooding and 80-degree temperature at Christmas.

Goose hunting is greatly reduced in Louisiana. The January Snow Goose census in Louisiana was 287,000 compared to the flyway count of 2,235,000. The Louisiana total was approximately half the 2011-2015 average.

More information about the 2015-2016 season will be available in coming months as Dr. Reynolds and his team collect data from their annual waterfowl hunter surveys.

Boeuf Resolution Regarding a Refuge Area Within The WMA

Recent (Feb.) Meeting of the LWFC

FYI for all LWA Board members and anyone else who’s interested. I attended the recent (Feb.) meeting of the LWFC and spoke on the topic of rest areas for waterfowl and the broader question of hunting pressure in WMAs. I spoke extemporaneously but the attached written statement is a summary.

With Melancon coming in and with some new staff at LDWF, I think there will be a chance of getting some changes in WMA management, but we will need to keep pushing on this. LDWF staff will go the way the wind blows and I feel we are getting somewhat of a change in wind direction.

At the meeting there was an update on the status of the Fish and Game preserves and their waterfowl hunting regs (or mostly lack thereof). Apparently, LDWF’s outreach to local governments and communities has produced a flurry of activity that will probably lead to formation of some commissions for purpose of governance of the preserves so the impact on private blind owners and hunting traditions will not be as great as it originally seemed. At Catahoula Lake, there is talk of a commission for that lake bottom, and there are also rumors of the situation being addressed in the upcoming Legislative session. We should have this on the agenda of our March 3 meeting to decide if LWA wants to take an official position.

Also, note that LDWF this month has hearings around the state on WMA rules and regs. Jay will attend the Alexandria session and I will attend the Monroe session.

Charles Williams

Summary Of My LWFC Statement

The La. Waterfowl Alliance is a small group of long-time waterfowl hunters from throughout the State, and we are concerned about the future of our favorite outdoor recreation. We’ve just come off a relatively poor season and we continue to see the effects of some uncontrollable factors like climate change that seem to be working steadily against us. In this adverse situation, as we think about our management of public hunting areas like the WMAs around the state, we believe management should place more emphasis on sustainability.

Our members hunt throughout the state on both leased land and on public land, and we would suggest that lessons can be learned from the three best duck hunting areas in the state: the mouth of the river, Cameron Parish, and Catahoula Lake. The common characteristic of these three areas, besides the presence of extensive good habitat, is the presence of substantial refuge areas that hold large numbers of ducks in each vicinity. Delta NWR at the mouth of the river, Sabine NWR in Cameron Parish, and the mid-lake refuge and Catahoula NWR at Catahoula Lake. In addition, private land in all these areas is usually managed to keep hunting activity at a reasonable level and includes, in the case of my leased area in Cameron, non-hunted areas of the marsh and a requirement to quit hunting by noon.

In spite of the positive role of refuges in our best hunting areas, we have steadily reduced, over recent decades, the refuges and waterfowl rest areas in our WMA. Now we hunt most WMAs 7 days a week until 2 p.m. Couple this with the spider’s web of ATV trails going into every nook and cranny of many WMAs, the provision of boat landings for large boats at even the smallest potholes, and the proliferation of ATVs and mud boats and we are leaving few places for our ducks to get away from the intense hunting pressure we put on them. And so what do they do? Increasingly, they go elsewhere, often back to Arkansas.

So what does Arkansas do? For starters, they have waterfowl rest areas within all their major WMAs of the bottomland section of the state. They manage those refuge areas by regulating water levels and promoting vegetation that puddle ducks like. In addition they take other steps in their most popular WMAs: a quitting time of noon, a limit on the number of shells that may be taken in, a lower bag limit, opening for less than seven days a week, and provision of LAAs which must be walked, waded, or paddled into. But most hunters in Ark. (and I know quite a few) will tell you that the refuges play a key role in keeping huntable numbers of ducks in the vicinity of WMAs such as Bayou Meto, Cutoff Creek, and Black River.

Here in Louisiana, at Boeuf WMA of Caldwell and Catahoula parishes, ten years ago LDWF did away with a refuge that had held thousands of ducks in the area. In the opinions of many long-time Boeuf hunters, including myself, this has hurt what was once an excellent WMA for waterfowl. Even more aggravating, upon inquiry we learned that this closure of the refuge was not initiated by the LDWF staff but was done on the demand of private blind owners on a nearby water body (Turkey Creek Lake), where hunters blamed poor results on the existence of the Boeuf refuge. We believe this decision needs to be revisited, along with all the others that have increased hunting opportunity at the expense of sustainability. We recommend that the Commission and LDWF consider reestablishing refuge areas within all WMAs especially in areas where there is no NWR or extensive lightly hunted private land to hold ducks.

WHAT TO DO WITH RARE WATERFOWL

 

The LSU Museum of Natural Sciences wants to know about rare waterfowl you harvest especially Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, Scoters (Black, Surf, White-winged), Cinnamon Teal, and hybrid waterfowl. The researchers there really do want specimen to add to the museum collection. However, if you want to keep your trophy, the researchers still would like to physically see the bird and will return it to you. Contact Donna Dittmann (ddittma@lsu.edu) or Steve Cardiff (scardif@lsu.edu) for further information or to report a rare bird. [Contributed by Jay Huner]

FWS/NRCS Conference Room, Lafayette – 28 October 2015

Participants:
Jay Huner, 421 Hickory Hill Dr, Boyce 71481, piku1@suddenlink.net, 318-793-5529
Bob Brothetton, 662 Fairview Point Rd, Elm Grove 71051, pjlbob@att.net, 318-423-7108
Ray Doughty, 850 Linden, Shreveport 71104, raydoughty@bellsouth.net, 318-393-3059
Phillip (Flip) Siragusa, 101 Felonise St, Lafayette 70507, redfish452@gmail.com, 337-288-2810
Marty Floyd, 2044 Bayou Rd, Cheneyville 71325, Progne99@aol.com, 337-459-0445
Barney Callahan, 302 Amis St, Thibodaux 70301, barney.callahan@shell/com, (barney.callhan07@gmail.com)
Fred Borel, 317 W Sallier, Lake Charles 70601, coureurdebecasse@yahoo.com
Randy Lanctot, 4125 Claycut Rd, Baton Rouge 70806, randylanctot@bellsouth.net
John Delhommer, P O Box 40, ….. 70555, john@ductz-sln.com

5:00 pm – Unable to show Website Tutorial
6:00 pm – Meeting brought to order by Jay Huner

Approval of April 2015 Minutes – motion by Randy Lanctot, second by Marty Floyd– passed

Financial Report – statement not available [Report from Sean Pilie’ received 10/30/15: “…the funds [WRAP] were sent to David, but I don’t see where they were cashed. I also sent him a reimbursement that is not cashed. As of today we have $3,020 in our account at Capitol One and $86 in pay pal account. I usually try to leave a minimum of $50 in pay pal so they won’t close the account….”

Need to find out the status of W.R.A.P. Have we provided the $1000 donation yet? Is this a continuing program? Flip will check to see if Andy Dolan and/or Rob Smith on status and perhaps get them to give us an update.

Officers:
President – vacant – Barney Callahan will take over (board approved)
Vice President – vacant
Secretary – Jay Huner
Treasurer – Sean Pilie’

President – In volunteering to be president, Barney Callahan stated that he felt the state needed an active state waterfowl organization. He asked for cooperation and assistance from all board members and the membership at large.

LWA Brochure = Barney developed a draft – we need to look at in and send in suggestions to Barney, also can use pictures. Check with website to make sure everything matches. Once completed, board members can use LWA envelopes to recruit new members. Also, of course, use e-mail.

Facebook page – We have a Louisiana Waterfowl Alliance Facebook Page. Johnny Serigny had it set up by the lady who set up the original LWA website. Need to get as many people as possible to “like” our Facebook Page and to get people to use it. This is a very interactive way to share information and promote LWA.

Twitter? – Not clear if LWA should have a Twitter account. Much silly stuff appears on Twitter accounts.

Website – Ray Doughty has done a wonderful job on the site. We need to make more use of it. We will send a notice to the members so they can check board meeting minutes. We can use a promotion like a contest with a shotgun as the prize to generate increased membership. Huner and Lanctot to do more to keep the site up to relieve Doughty.

Survey Results on Hunting Zones: 67% leave as is, 14% new zones, 11% old 2 zones, 10% no preference. Jay made it a point to explain that the manipulation of the zones by Larry Reynolds was done to accommodate Louisiana rice farmers in southwest Louisiana. Current start dates for seasons come before most of the second crop rice is harvested which means that farmers and/or land owners could not permit hunting despite the season being opened. This was a major issue for David Boudreaux. [Note: Jay spoke with rice farmers on 10-29-15 in Jennings and learned that the farmers had petitioned LDWF to open the season in their area later and wanted to include the 40,000 acres of rice south of LA 14 and immediately north of the Intracoastal Canal in a late opening situation.]

LWFC meets upcoming Thursday – Jay will send email letter to Larry expressing LWA desire to keep zones as they are.

State Guide License – other state require hunting guides to be licensed, don’t think Louisiana has this requirement. Jay to see what Sea Grant/Extension is doing (has done) about hunting guide licensing.

Louisiana Outdoor Expo 2016 – Flip will look into judges for the event (Francis was David Boudreaux’s contact). Need to check with gun dealers like G&H about acquiring a gun?

Rest Area Resolution – Charles Williams should check with LWF to look into this to see what we need to do to move the resolution forward.

Newsletter – Johnny has been doing this – need info

General Spring Meeting at Robicheaux Center Saturday April 16 – check with Johnny to see if he can assist with a meal.
Board Meeting in Feb., likely 16/17/18.
Flip brought up a situation about baiting doves in Alabama. People are being allowed to plant wheat on the ground in late August to “plant” it. This could lead to issues with other game species.
Adjourn 8:30 pm

We want your input!

Take just a few minutes of your time to fill out LWA Proposed Waterfowl Zone survey. Your input matters and we want to make sure that your opinion is heard. 

 

Name:*
Address:*
E-mail:*
Choose Your Zone Preference:
Additional Comments:
LDWF Proposes New Waterfowl Hunting Zones for 2016-2021

Oct. 5, 2015 – In action taken at the Oct. 1 Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) was directed to present to the public revised waterfowl hunting zones that would be considered for the 2016-21 waterfowl hunting seasons.

Zones for waterfowl hunting can be changed every five years, and this opportunity comes at the same time the review/approval process for setting waterfowl hunting regulations is being moved to an earlier time frame in the calendar year. Consequently, changes to waterfowl hunting zones must be decided prior to December 1, 2015 to take effect for the 2016-17 hunting season.

New proposed boundaries are:

East Zone: The area of the state between the Mississippi State line and the line going south on Hwy 79 from the Arkansas border to Homer; then south on Hwy 9 to Arcadia; then south on Hwy 147 to Hodge; then south on Hwy 167 to Turkey Creek; then south on Hwy 13 to Eunice; then west on Hwy 190 to its junction with Hwy 171 at Ragley; then south on Hwy 171 to Lake Charles; then south and east on Hwy 14 to its junction with Hwy 90 in New Iberia; then east on Hwy 90 to its junction with the Atchafalaya River; then south along the east bank of the Atchafalaya River to the boundary of Atchafalaya Delta WMA; then along the eastern boundary of the Atchafalaya Delta WMA to the end of Point au Fer Island ; then due south to the end of state waters.

West Zone: The area between the Texas State line and the line going east on Hwy 190/12 to Eunice; then north on Hwy 13 to Turkey Creek; then north on Hwy 167 to Hodge; then north on Hwy 147 to Arcadia; then north on Hwy 9 to Homer; then north on Hwy 79 to the Arkansas border.

Coastal Zone: Remainder of state.

 

 

Click Each Map To See A Larger Version:

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The following is an abbreviated report from the September aerial survey.  Weather did not allow us to complete the survey in SE LA, so total numbers are not comparable to past estimates.

Contact me if you have questions or comments.

Larry A. Reynolds

Waterfowl Study Leader
Louisiana Dept. Wildlife and Fisheries
2000 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
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