Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mallards on a South Wind?

The Roomba and Scooba Collection at Hammacher

When I was growing up and hunted ducks with my Dad by Thanksgiving, it was usually over.  We started hunting the first of November when it started turning cold.  We would drive up and down the bottoms checking out the small reserves and see if they were starting to hold ducks.  Then we headed to a public shooting area and shot our limits over and over.

HEVI-Shot HEVI-Steel Shotshells

HEVI-Shot HEVI-Steel Shotshells
Click on the pic or the link above.  I shoot these shells.

The first weeks of November this year was a really big disappointment, but then it turned and they came with the weatherman's "vortex."  Then it seemed it was all over.  Here came a promising report.  DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge just 18 miles south of our pits was holding 100,000+ Mallards.

Our man Jackson bringing in a bird.

Looking back in time, this refuge used to hold 300,000 to 400,000 ducks in the fall and who knows how many geese made this body of water a place to stop.  The refuge was managed for waterfowl and the fields that were owned by the Feds were farmed by the local farmers.  The rent was to leave 1/3 of their yield in the field.  The water of the reserve was formed into an ox bow lake by the ever shifting river channel of the Missouri River.  It has been said, the Missouri is too thick to drink, and too thin to plow.  On the west side of the reserve the government built a viewing building right next to the water, and you could drive into the reserve, park, and then watch the ducks and geese migrate in and out of the area.  Hundreds of thousands of birds was a sight to see for the bird lover.  They all had to eat and the cornfield shooting was excellent at our spot.
John plunked a nice big Canada

The refuge changed managers and the newer ones managed the refuge for deer instead of waterfowl.  We lost all the traffic we had enjoyed over the many years.  It changed again, and the new manager is managing the reserve more towards waterfowl.  100,000+ ducks found this a good stopping place.
I plunked a couple of mallards.  Notice the orange legs.

What does all this mean.  The ducks are back and they need a place to eat, open water, and some sand for their gizzards.  We supply it all with open water, the fields around us and the sandy soil of the river bottoms.  We decided that hunting on a north wind might not be the thing to do all the time, but hunt on some warmer balmy days with a south wind.  This was done and here they came.  The nice part of this type of hunting there was no need to be in the blind right at shooting time.  The birds seemed to go out about 7:30 AM and would not head for water until mid morning.     If a hunter got into the blinds by 9 AM, it was about right.  Hunt up till 1 to 2 pm and you would walk away with a limit of birds.

Limits of Mallards

Sometimes you would sit and sit and stare at the blue sky.  We also noticed they like to stay close to the river.  From our pit blinds we could easily spot them and of course they could spot us.  Once you got them coming it was outstanding shooting and watching them decoy.

It is mid December now, and as long as we don't have snow on the ground, and the temps stay above freezing, these birds will stay all winter. Duck season ends the 16th, but with all the Canada geese around there will still be some shooting as that season ends later.

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Good hunting, good fishing and good luck. Hank

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