LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Duck hunting is one of the most loved pastimes in Louisiana for many people. It’s a tradition that’s passed down from generation to generation. The sport is more than just a thrill of the hunt, it’s a way to care for Louisiana’s natural habitats.
Big waterfowl hunting season opened in mid-November, and many hunters have been waiting for opening day since it ended in January. Especially for duck hunter Joe Stough.
“One of the greatest things about duck hunting is sitting there early in the morning, the sun rises and watching that beautiful sunrise, and the birds coming in with the sunrise behind them, it’s just gorgeous,” said Stough.
Thirty minutes before sunrise, hunters get the go-ahead to begin their hunt for ducks and geese.
“Every year, opening day gets better and better. Each year we see more ducks resident on our property because we’re managing it right for waterfowl," said Stough.
Stough is also on the national board of directors for Ducks Unlimited--an organization that’s dedicated to wetlands and waterfowl conservation. He said being a part of this organization has helped him learn how to care for his land in order to bring in more birds for the sport.
“We had a lot of natural grass. Where my two main blinds are, we didn’t have a rice crop on them last year, so there was a lot of natural grass and a lot of food in there. So we put the right amount of water on it, buffaloed it and just made that food available really, natural food and the ducks responded,” he said.
And that’s a good thing, according to Stough, because it means waterfowl habitats in North America are thriving.
“If the Prairie Pothole Region is healthy, then we have a good duck population, good duck numbers and a better duck season down here.”
The Prairie Pothole Region is one of the largest nesting grassland and wetland regions in the world, located in Canada and the upper Midwest of the United States.
According to Stough, duck hunting in Louisiana is an important sport.
“Louisiana has more duck hunters than any other state,” he said. “So it’s a big part of our culture.”
Duck hunting comes at one of the best times of the year. But it’s the quality time with friends, family and nature that most hunters enjoy.
“To me that’s the most fun I can have out there. I love being with the guys and doing what the guys do in the blind, but being with my daughters and when I’m fortunate enough to get my wife Jena out there, you know that’s better. That’s heaven.”
And that’s paradise found.
Ducks Unlimited has helped conserve more than 477,000 acres of land throughout Louisiana. Approximately 50,000 acres have been conserved in Southwest Louisiana.
Visit the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website for more information on hunting waterfowl and other outdoors resources.