Well it sure is a mess down here in the open Gulf of Mexico and along the coastal reaches of Louisiana, Alabama and the western panhandle of Florida. No one seems to know when they're going to cap that darned oil leak or just what effect the spillage is going to have on our fisheries or waterfowl season.
In speaking with several biologists this week I learned that there are so many levels to this mess it's impossible to retell all of them here. Suffice to say diver duck hunting and waterfowling along the coastal marsh lands is probably going to be difficult at best.
With the changing nature of this calamity, finding open and unpolluted water is going to be key. Tides, weather systems and varying conditions of all kinds will play important roles in the months to come as more birds begin the migration down to the Gulf Coast. The hunter who can devote enough time to finding these undisturbed areas will be the most successful and will likely find what birds there are concentrated in these locations. Now more than ever, homework will pay off.
For the time being, there has been no discussion of closing waterfowl season along the Gulf Coast of Florida, but that may soon change. As time goes by, more and more oil will surely make it's way to shore. What remains to be seen is how much and when it will happen. With any luck, perhaps our government will move to finally find a solution to the problems at hand.
Inland areas won't be affected at all and may see an increase in the number of visiting waterfowl (one can only hope). Water levels are good in much of Florida right now and habitat is doing well from the northern state line to the Glades along the inland and eastern coastal areas of the peninsula.
More information will be coming in the days and weeks ahead, but the key dates to watch for ar August 27 & 28 when United Waterfowlers - Florida (a local conservation and hunter's activist group) will hold their first annual Waterfowl Summit.
The brain child of members Duke Dubois and Pat Stone, this summit is bringing together biologists, land managers, hydrologists, conservation groups and all manner of experts in the field of waterfowling and related issues to explore the state's present conditions and future outlook with real hunters and the men and women who live the waterfowling way of life. It's the first time (outside of the Flyway Council meetings) that both governmental and private industry folks will have a chance to sit down for a meeting of the minds. Certainly an exciting prospect and possibly a template for future events to take place in other key states.
It's too early to speculate on what will become of our coastal areas, but the tenor is ominous for the time being. I'll keep you posted on what transpires without the spin of government intervention. In the meantime, God bless you all, and enjoy your summer scouting time.