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Politics and Ducks

by Minden Press-Herald

As I sit at my computer with fingers poised over the keyboard on Monday afternoon, I’m waiting anxiously for something to get done. The Iowa caucuses are tonight and I can’t wait for all that to be over and finished. I’m so tired of hearing presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle lambast each other knowing full well that when one is eventually selected, the others will be singing the winner’s praises like he was a long lost brother.

Which one will eventually wear the mantle representing their party is still very much up in the air. It’s a guessing game and who knows what will happen.

It’s like trying to predict how your duck season will go. Larry Reynolds, Waterfowl Study Leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries still has most of his hair but for the life of me, I don’t know how. I’d have torn mine out long ago if I was in his position of trying to second guess the ducks and whether or not hunters will be happy with me or after my scalp.

“That’s one of the most frustrating things about my job,” Reynolds told me this week. “I want to be able to predict what’s going to happen with the ducks.” Sadly though, only Mother Nature can do that.

Prior to Louisiana’s duck season that just ended, everything looked rosy. There was a very high breeding population of ducks up north with a good number of ponds where little ones would be raised. Had everything worked out the way Reynolds wanted, duck feathers would be flying around the duck picking sheds from Mer Rouge to Mamou.

Enter Mother Nature who cast a spell over duck hunters, not only here in Louisiana but over the majority of the Mississippi flyway, the highway that brings our ducks to us.

“Remember the weather here Christmas Day? In Baton Rouge, it was 84 degrees. When it’s that warm and as wet as it was, we don’t get the ducks down here,” said Reynolds.

“December is a critical month for us and we usually see the biggest increase in the number of ducks in our aerial surveys and it usually sets the tone for the rest of our duck season.

This year, flooding from Illinois to Missouri to Arkansas and Louisiana with warmer than average temperatures has kept the birds spread out and shifted the distribution further north and made our hunting a lot tougher,” Reynolds added.

“In Minnesota and the Dakotas, they killed mallards over their entire season and this is the first time the folks up there can remember that they had open water with little or no ice during the entire season.”

Hunters have generally been frustrated and disappointed to have made the preparations for ducks that never came.

“I had a number of hunters complain to me…’Man, I’m sorry I paid $25 for a duck stamp this year’. I really want to be able to predict what’s realistically going to happen in order to give hunters a good return on the investment they make to hunt ducks,” said Reynolds.

As long as Mother Nature holds most of the cards, there is no guarantee that an exceptional hatch up north is going to mean lots of ducks in Louisiana.

“In my 25 years of duck hunting in Louisiana, I have seen for myself that when it’s cold and dry, I’m going to kill more ducks than when it’s warm and wet, like it was this season,” Reynolds said.

So, who’s going to win the Iowa caucuses tonight? Will one of the candidates TRUMP the others, or will another CRUZ to victory? I don’t have a clue, just like I have no inkling as to what kind of duck season next fall and winter will bring.

Glynn Harris Outdoor column is sponsored by D.C. Pawn in Minden

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