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Jonrubberman
LSU Fan
Metairie
Member since Jan 2010
64 posts

The golden years for ducks are gone....
Life long hunter on the Atchafalaya Delta/Wax...

While spotty limits are still out there, it’s a stretch to assume you’ll come home with a guaranteed 6 birds this season on the Atchafalaya. It’s certainly a far cry from what it used to be out there. Days of consistent black skies and trophy straps are a distant memory on the Delta/Wax. While it pains me to see the Midwest states cashing in on green limits; the motivation to drive my boat/pirogue out to the coast every weekend still burns inside, even if that requires bringing home a few blackjacks to fill the bag lol. Anyway the low water levels, low duck numbers, and surging amount of hunters we’re experiencing this season are unprecedented.

Anybody sold on the fact the Mississippi/Atchafalaya flyway has or hasn’t changed? If so, I’d like to hear some input. I always love the Ducks Unlimited pothole and global warming theories....regardless Outdoor Board is my first browse of the morning and I always enjoy the feedback. Good luck the rest of this season men, give em hell.


mylsuhat
Chicago Cubs Fan
NOLA
Member since Mar 2008
44533 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
There absolutely has been some sort of shift in the Mississippi flyway. I don't know what caused it, but it's pretty evident.

As much as I love to deer hunt these days I sure do miss blasting mallards every morning


Duckhammer_77
Mississippi St. Fan
Red Stick
Member since Nov 2016
983 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
I think the flyway is shifting west (dont know why). And no-till farming practices in the midwest states keeps the food source on top of snow in those areas. So birds are'nt forced as much to leave. But my friends with leases in NELA and S.Ark. are killing 50-60 per day with 8-10 guns spread out on the leases. Coastal LA had lots of ducks first split when we had none along Madison, Tensas, Concordia until after Thxgiving.


cattleman
LSU Fan
South La.
Member since Feb 2006
185 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
Ducks behavior in Louisiana has definitely changed. Sadly rather quickly. The rice fields in SW La. used to be a haven. Not anymore. Also marsh activity has slowed to a crawl. Reports say there are plenty of ducks but they aren't here. I believe it is a combination of several factors and there are probably more than I am aware of.


Jonrubberman
LSU Fan
Metairie
Member since Jan 2010
64 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
Duckhammer that downvote was my fault, hit the wrong arrow man lol...yea our September teal seasons have been amazing, in fact lately it’s our biggest motivation headed into the regular season but the overall decline is apparent for south Louisiana (especially late in the season like December/January). Like I said; years from now, I’ll still be out there doing the same thing I’ve always done...but it worth noting our flyway has changed


choupiquesushi
LSU Fan
yaton rouge
Member since Jun 2006
19199 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
the golden age here is dwindling... no doubt..


in addition to good habitat north due to changing farming/land use practices...

degraded habitat here is huge...

and NOBODY that was in the marshes 30-40 years ago can deny the sheer number of boats in "duck" country fishing or just running about is having an impact.

by degraded habitat - marsh loss/degradation - less acreage devoted to moist soil farming. less desireable aquatic vegetation - the list is long...


my fear is that ducks are being imprinted not to use certain areas now... like canada geese were a generation before us(us meaning old farts like me)... granted we have had a good year - but we have really had to go to extremes to do it. and we have greatly restricted how much we are hunting our blinds.... honestly though - the only reason I hunt is for watching dogs work and working with dogs.... if it came to it I'd go shoot black birds and crows. but to see almost no new birds despite the recent weather - is mind boggling..


also keep in mind that states like ND and SD have 5 and 6 times the number of non resident waterfowlers that they did 20 years ago.. motion dekes thinning out young ducks at much higher rates up north.....


and the phenomenon of ducks coming into ag fields at night and leaving before first light nobody knows if this was happening years ago... I know in january of 82.. jan 10 -14... when we had a record cold blast... I killed 10 ducks (sprigs, teal and widgeon) every day after school the week of that front - and I could have done it before school too.....I am not aware of any place in la that has ducks like that this week..... but I am in aware of places in TX and OK and MO that have it like that.... years ago they certainly did not..... january 11 it was 10 degrees at my house - it was was also the fastest 10 duck limit I ever had....


DownshiftAndFloorIt
LSU Fan
Here
Member since Jan 2011
50830 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
I blame it on the miss river levee


TigerDog83
LSU Fan
Member since Oct 2005
6490 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
Look at the loss of rice acreage in coastal Texas and Louisiana. Specklebelly geese are now using Arkansas as the prime wintering grounds versus the coast of Texas and Louisiana 15+ years ago. Ducks have somewhat followed, although even Arkansas doesn't see the same amount of mallards as they did years ago. I think that no till farming up north, less rice acreage being available, and weather have caused the changes. The coastal marshes always will attract and hold a lot of ducks but their numbers seem down the last few seasons also. These days it takes a large snow to cover food for huge numbers of mallards to migrate south where 15 years ago that wasn't quite the case.

Pressure is also so high on these birds. They get shot at under a gazillion mojos starting in Canada in September. We need to lower the limit and I would be happy to see mojo's be outlawed. They don't work that well on water but for anyone who has hunted over one in a dry field (like up north) it's unreal.
This post was edited on 1/3 at 9:31 am


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90
mylsuhat
Chicago Cubs Fan
NOLA
Member since Mar 2008
44533 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
Another huge part of this is the swamps have been taken over by grasses and don't have clear flowing water anymore.

Just look at the swamp under I-310... you can barely ever see the water. These swamps used to hold so many birds


Splackavellie
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
Bayou
Member since Oct 2017
1067 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
Probably just not enough hunters to scare the birds up.



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340
Cowboyfan89
McNeese State Fan
Member since Sep 2015
6207 posts
 Online 

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
quote:

And no-till farming practices in the midwest states keeps the food source on top of snow in those areas.


I don't know about on top of the snow, but no-till has left more food available than under previous systems. And I do believe that is a major factor, especially in years where the midwest is not covered in snow and waterways are not frozen.

Increasing rice acreage in Arkansas does not help either. As long as there is food available north of Louisiana, mallards and the hardier ducks won't make the long trips like they used to.

The name of the game for ducks (and any wildlife for that matter) is survival. It's a lot easier to survive when you aren't exhausting energy and fat reserves by migrating further than is necessary.


DeltaDoc
LSU Fan
The Delta
Member since Jan 2008
13519 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
I agree. I don’t know about a shift, but birds are not migrating as far south. Missouri and Northern Arkansas are holding birds like never before.

It has to do with habitat IMO. I think more efforts are being made up north to attract and hold birds. Conversely, in MS, LA and Arkansas in particular, 10s of thousand of acres of what used to be low lying, grain producing AG fields have been planted in CRP/WRP through reforestation easements.

The food is no longer there to attract and hold ducks.

I think this has affected areas like Delta/Wax by approximation.

It’s almost always about the habitat. Ducks are trying to eat and survive.


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Rover Range
UNC Asheville Fan
Member since Jun 2014
2729 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
Also take in account the fact that stretches of Mississippi and North Louisiana have dedicated a good percentage of ag land to CRP tree programs to better their deer hunting. And what land is still farmed, has been precision leveled to drain water, cleaned up low spots and turn rows. The result is far less flooded ag land in these areas.


White Bear
USA Fan
NWLA
Member since Jul 2014
3785 posts
 Online 

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
quote:

Another huge part of this is the swamps have been taken over by grasses and don't have clear flowing water anymore.
Yep. Raising river levels, CRP/WRP, climate, pressure, drastic negative changes in the last few decades.


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nolaks
Member since Dec 2013
455 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
they are definitely imprinting. We (the federal govt) made habitat and they adjusted. additionally this is being supplemented by huge private investment around these refuges as the yearly counts continue to grow. IE individuals buying large tracts and putting water on them creates even bigger habitat to the north.


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White Bear
USA Fan
NWLA
Member since Jul 2014
3785 posts
 Online 

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
Agree 100%, what used to be low-lying flooded bean fields in the winter are now weed/briar patches with hardwood trees. But, I do believe those habitats will return once those red oaks are making mast and open enough to allow ducks to access. But unfortunately i'll likely be too old to give much of a shite by then.
This post was edited on 1/3 at 9:47 am


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choupiquesushi
LSU Fan
yaton rouge
Member since Jun 2006
19199 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
heck I can remember riding down 190 from west of eunice to br and seeing scores of ducks from the side of the road...

and riding up 71 or 49.... say around 1999/2000.... and the numbers of birds visible from the road were staggering...

that is no longer that case..... not even close...


of course back in 1982 we also killed limits of wild quail - where I hunted in 82 - the same 600 acres probably hasn't killed 50 birds this year.....



and crawfish ponds are simply not ideal duck habitat...


choupiquesushi
LSU Fan
yaton rouge
Member since Jun 2006
19199 posts

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
This is also the first time that I am hearing many people that I talk with and have hunted with over the years.. talk about giving it up.....ie.. or spending 10-15 days up north and then just occasionally hunting....


and DU nor duck dynasty is at fault here either..


I felt bad for a group of young guys(early 20s I ran into at sherburne the other day - they were wet cold and had a ton of gear in a boat 3 dogs... and had one small hog 3 mergansers and 1 wood duck to show for their effort...... I can remember easily limiting before woodcock hunts at sherburne in early 2000s... in the green tree - not south farm...


the more I think about it the more I miss wild quail....


White Bear
USA Fan
NWLA
Member since Jul 2014
3785 posts
 Online 

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
quote:

This is also the first time that I am hearing many people that I talk with and have hunted with over the years.. talk about giving it up.....ie.. or spending 10-15 days up north and then just occasionally hunting....
I think i'm done with it, I don't have time to waste currently, and when i'm in the boat thinking about all the other stuff I could be productively doing, and not seeing crap to boot, kinda drives the point home.

Think i'll start sac a lait fishing or something. I hear those finicky bastards are even more of a challenge. But at least they can't be short-stopping in Missoura.
This post was edited on 1/3 at 10:03 am


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DirtyMikeandtheBoys
LSU Fan
Member since May 2011
18116 posts
 Online 

re: The golden years for ducks are gone....
quote:

and crawfish ponds are simply not ideal duck habitat...


and sugar cane.

there has been a monumental shift in the barely existent ag land away from rice/corn/bean and into sugarcane


It's so bad that when I powerball dream of my future land it's no longer in Concordia/Tensas. It's in s. Missouri


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