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John's Journal... Entry 117, Day 1


Hunting Warm-Weather Ducks

EDITOR'S NOTE: Like most duck hunters throughout the nation in the warm weather of this past few seasons, I didn't hear the whistling wings of waterfowl gliding out over the marsh, the constant quacking of mallards as they fed in acorn flats or the whistling of wood ducks as they came in to roost at night. Instead, the ever-present hum of mosquitos' wings -- millions of them -- overpowered all the other sounds. However, while this past year brought unseasonably-hot weather and many areas didn't see as many ducks as they'd seen in other years, the sportsmen who knew how, where and when to hunt quacks still found numbers of webfoots and took limits of ducks, even though they may have killed over their limits of mosquitos.

Most hunters ranked the past few year's duck seasons as some of the most unusual the nation ever had seen. Because of warm temperatures, the numbers of ducks actually coming down the Mississippi Flyway seemed fewer than the numbers expected. Even when the ducks reached the South, hunting expectations didn't match pre-season predictions because the ducks that did come South didn't fly very frequently.
I hunted saltwater-marsh ducks with Rod and Eli Haydel of Haydel's Game Calls in Cameron Parish just outside Lake Charles, Louisiana, near the Gulf of Mexico. With temperatures in the 70s in early November, I doubted my hunting companions and I would see and take many webfoots. "During warm-weather conditions, birds don't have to move very much or feed very often," Rod Haydel explained. "If you want to take a limit of ducks in many areas, you should pack a lunch. Often ducks won't move until later in the morning. In regions where you normally will have a hunt lasting an hour or two before you bag a limit, you may have to stay until noon or later, depending on the bag limit and regulations in that area. If you hunt with a mobile blind during warm weather, you can move to sites ducks seem to use and often find some pretty good shooting. But if you hunt from a permanent blind, a day seems to last forever, with only sporadic shooting."

In the Louisiana marsh where we hunted ducks first, we had to arm ourselves with industrial-strength Yard Guard and spray it in and on our duck blinds before we could climb into them because of the huge numbers of fat mosquitoes. If the ducks along the Mississippi Flyway had eaten all the mosquitos available, they never could have lifted off the water to fly back north in the early springtime. The long-sleeved shirt I wore not only camouflaged my body but also kept mosquitos off my skin after I had saturated the shirt with bug repellant. However, the Haydels felt confident we would see and bag ducks. And before the morning ended, we had some of the finest saltwater marsh shooting I'd experienced in many years.





Check back each day this week for more about Ducks...

Day 1 - Hunting Warm-Weather Ducks
Day 2 - Saltwater-Marsh Ducks
Day 3 - Freshwater-Marsh Hunting
Day 4 - Field Hunting
Day 5 - Great Lakes Ducks

John's Journal