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Lake life

Dr. Duck, part 2

Larry Reynolds, Waterfowl Program Manager for Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, recently shared some very interesting information about duck hunting that should be interesting to anyone that hunts, especially those that chase waterfowl in the state.

Here are more things than number of ducks and number of hunters to consider. In fact, here are a few things I never thought about:

  • The giant salvinia problem that is plaguing our state’s waterways is affecting more than fishining. Thousands of shallow water areas that once held migratory waterfowl have been covered with this invasive species. When that happens, waterfowl just have to find somewhere else to go. Or if it gets bad enough, they just don’t come this way at all.

One of the hardest things to explain about today’s waterfowl data is that it shows two things that seem to mean the opposite thing. First of all, the number of waterfowl hunters is down. But the facts also show the overall hunting pressure is up.

Hows that work, Larry says. “I hear all the time that because I’m 58 years old, I’m out of touch with today’s duck hunters,” Larry says. “Here’s the deal. We have fewer hunters, but hunting pressure is up. That’s because this new generation of duck hunters has more tools on hand to take them more places. They don’t just go one place and quit if there are no ducks there. The cell phone has changed hunting. They’ve got GPS that can take them to a spot that they’ve never seen before. They’ve got global mapping that shows every little pothole and lake. They’ve got shallow drive boats that can run in six inches of water and take them anywhere.

“So wherever the ducks can go, they pretty much can go, too. So while there may be fewer hunters, the ones we’ve got can go in more places and the ducks that used to have lots of places to hide don’t have that capability any more.”

  • Duck hunters have more and better gear and supplies than ever before. But the fanciest gear money can buy can’t bring you ducks. It can bring you to the best hunting spot and at least make you think you have an advantage. But it comes with a price.

One of today’s hottest items in the new Tungsten Super Shot (TSS). TSS is the heaviest pellet on the market with a density of 18 grams er cubic centimeter compared to lead’s 11 grams. It shoots “harder” and longer and it also makes you think more about pulling the trigger. Hunting with Tungsten Super Shot goes something like this. When the duck hunter stands up the blind and shoots three times it’s boom $7… boom $7… boom $7.

That’s what it cost per shell for the loads.

  • Rules and regulations. Nobody likes them. No matter what they are, hunters have ideas to make them better. But Larry pointed out something that we don’t often think about, but regulators do.

“America is the only country in the world that operates by the principle that the waterfowl and wildlife belong to the people. It’s the only place that has ever had that philosophy in history. It doesn’t belong to the landowner and it doesn’t belong to the kings and noblemen. It belongs to the people. If you are willing to abide by certain regulations and rules, you can go out and kill something that actually belongs to the public and take it home with you as your own.

“The downside to that is the regulations are set based on wildlife and waterfowl populations, not the states or the number of hunters. Only one percent of the country’s “waterfowl owners” actually hunt. So the rules are set up to try and manage populations for the whole group. That leaves hunters in the minority, even though we don’t look at it that way.”

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