Big Duck Season: Predictions from the Experts
Teal season is over, and big duck season is upon us, so we chatted with four waterfowl experts spanning from Venice, La. to southeast Texas about what to expect this year.
Warren Coco, Go-Devil Manufacturing
“I went bass fishing,” was the reply from Coco when we asked about his teal season. “Not only that, I caught about 50 bass. Seriously though, the water around my place (at Hackberry in southwest Louisiana) was just way too high. Some of the rice fields north of me were good, though.”
As far as predictions for big duck season go, Coco said, “Our conditions are real good. There’s a ton of food in the area, so I’m wound up. I’m also hearing good things about ducks moving into what few areas in Arkansas have water, so the ducks are on the way. Now, my place up north on the Black (River) is a little different. Unless something changes, there won’t be much water in the area, and that’s a bad thing. We’ll pump water, but it’s always better if everyone has water.”
Big Duck Tips:
- The food is here. Go to it and sit tight.
- Use natural vegetation to hide. The better you blend in, the more ducks you’ll kill.
- Louisiana hunters- Pray for it to stay dry up north. There’s nothing like Arkansas staying dry to send ducks our way.
Warren Coco loves hunting with his son, Mason.
Ryan Schaefer, Louisiana Wildlife Federation
“Opening day of teal was great, but it got rough in a hurry. Luckily we had a fresh push of teal for closing weekend. I’m still a fan of the later teal season, but I have no doubt Hurricane Harvey messed us up. I believe a ton of our teal headed to all the new habitat in southeast Texas. Friends of mine there stacked them up.
“Now I’m gearing up for the big ducks. The youth hunt is coming up, and there are a lot of wigeon, teal and grays at the mouth of the river, so that’s where I’m going. Good habitat is scattered out, but there’s plenty of it despite the high water we had messing up some areas. In the rice country a little farther north, specks are starting to pile up in the fields where farmers are getting out their second-crop rice. The table is set.”
Big Duck Tips:
- Like Coco said, Louisiana hunters- pray for dry and cold north of us.
- Hunt the fronts. My preference is the day after the front passes. Ducks have rested and are looking for food.
- Equipment is key. When there’s competition, and there always is early, clean decoys and a perfect spread are critical. Also, really think about your camo. Our marsh is full of green, and the brown camo that looks so good later really stands out.
Ryan Lambert, Cajun Fishing Adventures
“Teal season was good, but you had to set up right. Birds weren’t holding here, and they were just passing through. Like I told you in August, you had better set up on a flyway. We killed right at 600 teal, and my blind limited every day.
“I’m worried a little about big ducks right now. During teal season, the vegetation was so thick it would choke a mud boat, but that high water killed about 90% of our grass. There’s still a lot of food, but it’s not what we had. Those tidal surges hurt, and I expect a lot of ducks to stay inland as long as the food holds out. But, we’ll get our birds.”
Big Duck Tips:
- If you’re on public, find the food…and hunt it! Scout for wild peas and duck potato, and hunt that stuff until it’s gone.
- Think about resting spots. Ducks along the coast love to loaf on sandbars. Scout them and hunt.
- Hunt the tide. Really think about how water moving in and out pushes birds to different locations, and hunt accordingly.
- Bonus tip: Stick it out. If you are in food, don’t quit just because they don’t fly at shooting time. I rarely pick up before 10:30 on a slow day. They’ll eventually move.
Photo: Latendresse Media Collective
Richard Foley, Vanishing Paradise Sporting Council
“Many of us in southeast Texas had one of the best teal seasons ever. It was a little spotty in areas where Hurricane Harvey washed out the food, but if you had stagnant water, it was awesome. Between plenty of water, plenty of food, a full moon and two cold fronts, there were tons of birds.
“With regular season opening, I’m pretty excited. I’ve seen a big push of sprig, cranes, specks and the usual early migrating species come on the last few fronts. Hate to say it, but we could use a few inches of rain. It’s been warm and dry, and our water is evaporating fast. We’re pumping, but you hate to do it. As for the coast, it’s amazing how much of the food came back after Harvey. They’re in pretty good shape. Inland, a lot of what used to be rice is now planted in cotton, so folks with moist soil impoundments hold most of the ducks.”
Big Duck Tips:
- Scout and pattern the birds. We have a lot of birds here, but the warm, stable weather often limits their movement. That makes scouting crucial.
- Have patience. If you scouted the birds, have patience and wait them out.
- Don’t anchor yourself in a blind. Get out of the blind and tuck into low, natural cover. Get down in the mud because ducks learn to look for blinds and pits.
Hope you have a great season! Post your own duck hunt photo from this season to our Facebook page and you may win a Vanishing Paradise hat. Submit by December 15th.