John’s Note: One of the toughest places in America to hunt early-season waterfowl is Louisiana. The first time I hunted there one November, my guide brought out two cans of industrial strength Yard Guard to keep the mosquitoes out of our blind. Bill Daniels of Hayes, Louisiana, has been hunting the Bayou State for 33 years. He wears Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades because he says, “This camo blends in well with the places we hunt.” This week he’ll tell us how to hunt ducks at the end of the flyway.
Duck hunting in Louisiana has changed quite a bit. We don’t shoot as many mallards as we have in the past. Primarily, we hunt gray ducks and teal, a few wigeons and quite a few spoonbills. I think one of the reasons we don’t have the opportunity to take as many mallards as we once did is due to our state not having as much cold weather as we have had in the past. Too, there’s a lot more food up north for the ducks to dine on today. The mallards don’t have a reason to fly down here like they have had in the past.
Where I hunt, our duck season started November 7, 2015, and the temperature was in the 70s. We hunted in short sleeve shirts the entire first duck season which ran through December 6, 2015. The second split duck season started December 16th, and I won’t be surprised if we’re still hunting in short sleeve shirts at the end of the season.
We haven’t had a push (migration) of ducks since the first of the season, when the original ducks came down the Mississippi Flyway. So, in December and the first part of January, we’re hunting stale ducks (ducks that have been here for awhile). After the first weekend of duck season, our ducks in Louisiana become highly educated. So, I hold back on my calling. I don’t do a lot of aggressive calling then. Mainly, I depend on feeding chuckles to get the birds to come in to where we are. We only put out six to 10 dozen decoys at the blinds where I guide. Other blinds may be putting out 400 to 600 decoys. Every morning we hunt, we usually get a mixed bag of ducks – a few wigeons, gadwalls, pintails, ring-wing teal and maybe two or three mallards.
I hunt every day of duck season, because I’m the waterfowl guide for a private duck-hunting club called the Lacassine Hunting Club. I’ve been guiding for the past 15 years. I’m totally into waterfowl. Also, I build duck and goose calls for Riceland Custom Calls (http://www.ricelandcustomcalls.com). Although we build quite a few duck calls, I believe our goose calls are some of the best in the world, especially our championship speck goose calls.
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