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What happened to the ducks

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After reading the recent article on this site regarding a poor migration I found myself needing to vent. It seems everyone is in agreement that a wet mild winter across much of the country allowed ducks access to food sources and resting areas causing them to stop short. I think most have figured that out by now on their own and can live with that. When Mother Nature gives you a blow you just got to roll with it. Every year can’t be a banner one. But what no one wants to comment about is that these very same conditions have been artificially created more and more throughout much of those areas to the north, short stopping at least in part, natural migration even in favorable years. My work has carried me across much of the country for the last 15 years, specifically the central and midwestern states. I’ve been on over a thousand farms and worked with the owners in these areas. It is almost unimaginable how many farms I’ve been on, create artificial conditions that replicate the mild wet winter we just experienced. Whether it be pond heaters or water control structures that keep water moving so it won’t freeze. It’s not just one or two farms doing it. It’s widespread and growing. Unless something is done there is no end in site, especially when there’s large so called conservation groups backing and funding these artificial practices. Sorry for the vent just had to get my 2 cents out there
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Re: What happened to the ducks
You are 100% correct. DU has spent and still spending unknown amounts of money north of Louisiana and very little in comparison on Louisiana. The ducks are stopping short. There are more resting areas and food for them in the Mid States than the years before. I've duck hunted for over 50 years and the weather has some to do with the migration but nothing compared to what they are doing in the Mid States. Louisiana use to be the place to duck hunt. Now it's at the bottom of the barrel. I slowly switched from duck hunting to deer hunting because of this.
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Last Cast,Could not have more eloquently stated the painfully-obvious!!!I wish I had my NShore Marsh logs from about about 14 years ago,Katrina year.No one could possibly argue habitat destruction had NOT devastated all of SE LA,yet my older son and I had incredible hunts with mostly 2-man limits just about both splits,mallards,widgeons,teal,mottled ducks and about zero scaup,thankfully.My explanation for that incredible year(have a degree in Biology from UNO,BA to be specific, so I count myself as fairly well-educated,especially in Animal Biology)is that the Delacroix/Hopedale/Reggio area suffered a lot more habitat destruction
and whatever habitat the NShore had was immensely better than S of the NShore.Pretty much ever since,we have seen a gradual,but accelerated rate of decline in gadwall migrations(our oberservations,some NShore folks did have pockets of gadwalls,thankfully)and that skid was precipated,in my estimation,by exactly what you have personally witnessed,close and personal,enhanced pond productions,ice-eaters,etc the exact things that caused altered(artificially,of course)natural migrations to the point where the migratory patterns may have possibly been permanently shifted N and W and anywhere but the norm we used to enjoy not that many years ago.When areas like Venice struggle to consistently and across the board(not pockets of ducks)produce,what chances does the rest of the state have!!!Let's keep the dialog going and DU can claim wetter than normal conditions all up and down the flyway,but that does not explain the accelerated and ridiculous loss of normal migrations over the past 14 or so years.Try to explain away that!!!

Mandevillian
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Re: What happened to the ducks
RJA-67, I too quit duck hunting many years ago when I saw a notable change in wintering ducks here in SE La. i started chasing deer and haven’t looked back till recently for my kids sake. Duck hunting has been part of my family since the early 1900’s when land was purchased and passed down generations. I had a charmed life growing up and blessed to have this large property to hunt on. We had so many memorable hunts through the 80s and 90s I couldn’t even begin to describe. Even back when it was the point system then 3 duck limit and shorter season there really was no shortage of ducks coming here. And that’s around the time conservation groups kicked into high gear north of us. Money really does talk. Louisiana is the laughing stock of our nation in many regards. Whether it be education, oil industry or management of our wildlife and fisheries. You name it we are at the bottom. Don’t know that “Sportsman Paradise” is really fitting anymore. I’d really like to pass on to my kids our heritage of duck hunting but the future for La doesn’t look promising. And for those going to banquets, fundraisers, buying magazines, etc to benefit these conservation groups you really have to look past the smoke and mirrors, ask yourself how many of those dollars come back and benefit Louisiana.
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Last Cast we are hard core waterfowlers. Have been for 30 years. Its very hard to watch what is taken place above us and to know that DU is doing what they do for the mid to northern states. I have been blessed to be able to hunt an average of 45 out the 60 days for 10 years now and to see the demise of the ducks is heartbreaking. Same habitat, enough grass to choke your outboard. Nowhere near the birds, not even close. Then you put ducks unlimited tied in with the wealthy doing whatever they can to accomplish keeping those so called private refuges that only the deep pocket guys have keys to for their hunting privilege. The farmers are taught how to maintain their land to keep them full of ducks as long as possible. How in the world can a combine go and plow a field not even harvest it, call whats on the ground corn remnants, then pump water in flood the field. Watch 10,000 ducks pour into the field and have 10 guys pay you $350 to hunt it. But I dare you to put 500 lbs of corn in your pond and hunt it. Whats the difference its corn under water right??? The bottom line is as usual its all about money and our state as usual is like giving a crackhead a bank account full of money. They are going to F.... it up. In 10 years or less I think we will be looking for another tradition or driving north if you still want to kill ducks.
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Re: What happened to the ducks
BAM!!! U got it, that y I think our only change is to fight to b able to feed .
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Guys,These are the exact arguments Josh Goins was discussing just last year and he was planning a new organization,think it was Flyway Federation of LA and lotta diehard and hardcore waterfowlers were on board but not sure what happened to all that passion.I find it quite amusing that for years we were told about all the ducks harbored in our areas but suddenly,and somewhat coincidentally(???),we were all of a sudden told we had major declines in our migratory birds.Why were lead to believe(most of us did not put a lot of credence in those fly-over surveys,after quite a number of rosy predictions,only to be dashed again)that our skies would be full of ducks,of all species???Guess the shell and gun manufacturers,to name a few,have quite a vested interest in those migratory duck numbers!!!Oh well,now I see DU migratory reports stating that the goose populations in Arkansas are strong.I aint buying it nor am I planning an Arkansas goose trip,will instead focus my efforts and energy on deer hunting,sac a lait,specks,reds,bass,flounders and getting ready to upgrade my Lowrance depthfinder to one with side/down scan plus GPS!!!

Mandevillian
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Ducks in Louisiana may be like quail in the southeast. Too many things have changed and it may never be the same again. Duck hunting has become big business. Duck dynasty did the duck hunting world no favors. I have hunted Venice for almost 30 years and the pressure on the ducks is insane. Years ago you could hunt there during the week and not see another hunter. I scout by easing in and looking with binoculars. Most everyone else 'scouts' by blasting through rafts of ducks with their surface drive. I think a lot of ducks are pressured out of the country. I duck hunted in Nicaragua several years ago and was shocked at amount of ducks there! We shot bw teal, gw teal,shovelers, pintail, wigeon,gadwall, ringnecks and bluebills!!! Hundreds of thousands of ducks and we never saw or heard another hunter outside of our group. As in most of Mexico and central America the locals cannot afford to hunt! The outfitter told me they see more ducks every year!!! On my map Nicaragua is a lot further south than Louisiana. No-till farming is now the norm. Have watched numerous hunting shows where they are shooting woodducks, teal, wigeon and pintail not just mallards in dry fields!! DU and Delta probably do favor the wealthy because we all know money talks but who else is doing more for the ducks and duck hunters???
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Re: What happened to the ducks
The proposed reduction of teal limits is yet another example of the incompetence and lack of sound management practices of those creating regulations for Louisiana. Doesn’t take a genius to look at limits throughout Mississippi Flyway and see that it is 6. Louisiana would be the only state with a 4 teal limit. According to data teal numbers are above the long term average. Numerous other factors causing poor migration. Are these Einstein’s aware that waterfowl migrate and if there was a real threat or concern in managing the teal population it would have to be a collaborative effort throughout our flyway. Is it too much to ask our officials to pick up the phone and discuss concerns with other states in the flyway before making a knee jerk reaction following a bad year. C’mon Man! Another example of why we are the laughing stock of our nation and the future here is bleak at best
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Last Cast,I plan to attend a Public Forum on the proposal to reduce teal limits next month,Feb 25th at 6:00pm,at Ponchatoula High School and the great news for me is that I will be at the Ponchatoula Wal Mart from 8-3 that same day.Probably will grab quick dinner and not sure if Wifey wants to attend but the way I figure it,the more opposition,the better and she knows how passionate I am about duck hunting plus my understanding is that this proposal has no biological basis(helps that my college major was Biology)and I am a member of Delta Waterfowl(The Duck Hunter's Organization)and on our committee,we have not only a State Wildlife Biologist but me and another gent with a Degree in Animal Biology!!!Might have to make sure the three of us attend!!!

Mandevillian
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Re: What happened to the ducks
2 thumbs up for Josh Goins and Flyway Federation. Bout time someone stepped up to the plate.
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Duckinaround ive been in venice for almost 30 years also. You already know how it use to be there. The absolutely best duck hunting around. And I have strongly posted that the pressure that place receives is killing it slowly on top other things. But you cannot have and this is probably close to 1,000 surface drives constantly from 1am til pitch black dark constantly hunting and so called scouting and expect to hold birds in the area as we did before these machines came into place. Duck Dynasty, mud motors, social media, and google maps have ruined what used to be a family tradition and something that runs deep in your blood. To hey man I got this jacked up 55 modified mud buddy with these inverted cams and had my pistons bored out 3,0000ths of a millimeter to go 1.5 mph faster while I wear my got to have drake waterfowl camo and smear all this black paint on my face but make sure it didn't get in my eyes or my beard I just grew. Thank all the locals who cant wait to shoot a limit of ducks and hurry up and post their picture on every site they can to show off. Now venice and other areas are overtaken by Georgia, Mississippi, and alabama hunters. Way to go. Don't complain when you pull up to you hunting spot and cant get in your ponds due to the other 6 boats who have been there since 230 am. The writing is on the wall guys. Good luck next season.
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Many,many factors at play and why knock GoogleMaps as it certainly helps me where I hunt!Pressure plus lack of migrating ducks(on normal basis)certainly does not help and thankfully mud boats,etc not allowed where I hunt but the duck population there has been on accelerated decline since about Katrina year.Josh Goins got criticized,villified,cursed,laughed at,etc and now he must be laughing his tail off as he hit the nail on the head last year and lotta folks agreed with him.Getting fannies in the seats for these Public Forums can't hurt and all it takes is Public Opinion to shoot down some of these proposals(at least let the Officials know how we feel).From what I understand,the state folks wanted to allow mud boats on Big Branch Marsh and that alone woulda ruined that place pronto.The only site I ever post on happens to be LA Sportsman and yes Social Media has had a negative impact on duck hunting but lots of folks post about turkey hunting,fishing,deer hunting,etc,just do not give away exact locations.I for one have had numerous folks want to know exactly where I hunt in the Big Branch Marsh and why would I ever want to give up spots that I have been hunting(without any pressure,even when there are plenty of ducks)for years on end.I only hunted Venice once and we saw hunters but they were miles from where we hunted and we busted it to get to where we hunted and the gent that took me said he rarely has too much hunting pressure where he hunts.Maybe because he and all the hunters I routinely hunt with do it the ole-school way,transporting pirogues via flatboats,bayboats,etc and we paddle quite a ways to get away from pressurized ducks,makes more sense than fighting for spots,having someone sky-bust,call ducks that were headed your way,etc.etc.Until we get back our natural and regular migrations,all we ever gonna be doing is whining,complaining,becoming so frustrated that we sell our decoys,rigs,etc and take up another sport or get what we truly deserve,normal migrations of ducks that if we do not get may lose altogether to another flyway,state,etc.I am not totally buying the line proposed by this state that weather conditions up and down the flyway ruined our migration this year.BS,that migratory pattern has possibly been permanently and irreversibly altered many,many years ago,possibly as long ago as 2000.Better be willing to hunt a state like Kansas,being called the 'New Arkansas' or possibly even NDakota,kinda hard to alter their migratory patterns!!!

Mandevillian
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Google Louisiana Conservationist and start reading back issues from the 60s-70s. The LDWF is well aware that agricultural changes and to a lesser extent Refuge& Habitat restoration policy have BEEN altering migration for DECADES. Once 90% of the mid-continent population of Snow/Blue Geese wintered from a bit east of Houston to Pass Christian and all south of a line from Waco to Picayune, once mallards were over a quarter of the ducks shot in our state (now consistently under 10%) , once (before JFK was president) we had viable migratory canada goose hunting. And if you read the old conservationists its all laid out, they fought and lost before most of us here were born. But if you pay attention as you read you will also see a second story; from the 30's to the 90's ducks existed in a constant boom and bust cycle, season and bag limits were often quite restrictive (although prior to the late 60's they were also often simply ignored in cajun country completely). In LA we rarely felt the boom and bust cycle because habitat to our north was so degraded that whatever ducks there were HAD to come to the marshes and rice fields here to survive so we all wondered what the fuss/conspiracy was about with all the 3bird/30day seasons in the early 90's when we were all killing ducks. Out of all that drama (in the 50's, 60's and 90's there were serious discussions about shutting duck hunting down completely) came the North American Waterfowl Recovery Plan ( I may have mixed that name up slightly). The NAWRP had a goal of stabilizing and restoring waterfowl populations to early 1950's levels and finding a scientific method of managing the resource rather than capricious fiat by whomever was appointed to head the USFWS. Among the many proposal that were made was a federal plan to increase mid-continent habitat for migrating waterfowl in order to increase hen weight at return to the breeding grounds which in turn increased reproductive success. At the same time all of this was occurring a series of severe floods struck the upper and mid Mississippi River valley causing massive hardship and expense. It became apparent that the agri-lunar landscape that had been built in the graet plains was enhancing these flood events and that restoring wetlands could blunt flood events. These factors (generally) led to increased federal funding for wetland restoration in non-coastal areas ie. the Wetland Reserve Program. Which created the conditions Mr. Goins alludes to when he says that guides and clubs in the mid-west have learned to use federal dollars to 'farm' ducks.

So what has this conservation/flood control effort yielded? Over two decades of stable and abundant waterfowl populations which are now pretty evenly distributed over the central and MS Flyways most years, reduced destructive flooding even in high river years, reduced direct price supports for agricultural products, reduced crop insurance claims, increased biodiversity in the plains with benefits to many non-game species from eagles to orioles, jobs in one of the most economically depressed areas of the country, CO2 sequstrations, easy knee boot hunting for rich dudes, more pheasants, decreased fertilizer in the MS river, better fish populations..............
And so when LA consistently ranks in the top 3 states for duck harvests its going to be hard to convince the rest of the states in the central and MS flyways to undo all that so you can get back to shooting mallards and pintails instead of dosgris and bufflehead.

Moreover the changes to migration were occurring decades BEFORE the government started subsidizing wetland creation. The reality is that for a lifetime agricultural practices in the midwest have moved in a direction that favored short stopping with ever more corn and beans and no till farming. More small and large irrigation and drinking water reservoirs, the restoration of beaver populations, reforestation of marginal lands ect. At the same time LA has seen immense habitat degradation, More uber cane/cotton/pine cultivation, sub-urban and now exburb sprawl combined with round up ready rice and beans and more efficient combines that leave little for ducks and geese when fields are flooded. What will banning ice eaters do about that??

But on the other hand we still do have ducks. and even at the micro level of St. Bernard Parish I can tell you that the overly wet conditions this year have altered where birds are. Our best hunts this year were in flooded deer lanes that had grown up in smartweed rather than in the rain water ponds that we normally kill in which were to deep for puddle ducks much of the season. As far as big branch yes it has a lot of SAV but not so much coontail and widgeon grass as hydrilla and milfoil. Until the closing of the MRGO that was fine because it was one of a limited number of areas in the Pontchartrain Basin with decent SAV but with the dramatic changes in salinity regimes since the closure there is SAV from the the Metairie Lakeshore to Lonsome Island and so birds can be more choosy. Things change, ponds were I killed limits for years suck now, places I never scouted a bird in the 90's hold birds now. Its a pain but its unlikely we can go back and I aint gonna quit so I keep scouting and chasing them birds.
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Re: What happened to the ducks
lanco1,Not exactly sure how often and where you hunt in Big Branch Marsh but I can readily and most certainly tell ya that the predominant grasses in all the ponds I have hunted this year have been widgeon grass and coon tail grass and I probably hunted about 9 separate areas,scattered through-out the Big Branch Marsh and even hunted Fritchie Marsh(Included in Big Branch quite a few years ago)and Fritchie loaded up with grass,mostly coon tail and widgeon grass.I took pics of low-water hunts where the SAV was to the top and it was a chore paddling through all that SAV so no one can tell me the habitat aint here,don't even advance that argument.Certainly ducks still have wings and still migrate,though not nearly as predictably and reliably as they once did and I can control my attitude regarding lack of ducks and can control my scouting efforts and where I choose to hunt.The rest of the factors negatively influencing migratory patterns pretty much outta my control,til we band together and do what we can to alter what has been altered!!

Mandevillian
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Re: What happened to the ducks
I mostly head out of the non-motorized launch. My buddy that hunts all over the thing struggled too. I didn't hunt it this year but did scout several times. My buddy's take was that giant salvinia hurt things out there a lot this year. I saw a bunch of birds just off the public property in the Fritchie marsh on 3 occasions so pressure may be an issue. I think the general concept that the areas in SELA that have decent SAV have expanded in the past decade is still valid.
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Re: What happened to the ducks
There are some absolute gems outta that non-motorized launch and I did hunt off the Pipeline a few times,dropped a fine green head but lost him and did get a few mottled ducks out that way.The way to hunt Big Branch is to be extremely mobile,scouting all the time and heading to exactly where the ducks wanna be vs where either you wanna be or where you want them to be!!!Good luck next season and I am already planning an all-out assault on them teal in certain ridiculously hard-to-access areas that also harbor mottled ducks,mallards,woodies,etc!!!

Mandevillian
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Duckbuster, I'm from Georgia so I hope you won't concider me part of the problem! I do concider myself to be a low impact duck hunter! As with any wildlife there are two types of movement. Natural and forced. Forced movement of any type is a negative! I think ducks have a plan. They like to eat good food, have sex once a year and just be left alone. Damn,thats identical to my plan!! And Ianco1 I believe you're post is spot on. There are an absolute multitude of things that have changed over the last 30+ years and I am not very optimistic that we will ever see again the way things used to be. I hope I'm wrong !!
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Re: What happened to the ducks
lanco1, you make many good points but I would have to disagree on some. There can be all the habitat restoration and WRP land in the world created up and down the Mississippi flyway to support waterfowl along their migration and no one could argue the long term benefit of it. But consider this, cyclical weather patterns come and go, triggering ducks to continue south in search of food, resting areas, etc. Ducks stop along the natural route where these areas become available, i.e. south of frozen water and snow covered fields. As winter patterns push south so do ducks. Of course these patterns are cyclical with the past season being a prime example of what a mild and wet winter can do as far as not forcing a complete migration. I believe the main argument though is the fact that in cold, dry seasons, because of the artificial practices being implemented to our north to keep these newly created habitat restoration lands and WRP free of ice and snow, it has a big impact on how many birds actually make it down to Louisiana. And yes, there are far more than just a few ice eaters to our north. I would have never believed it coming from someone else but I've seen first hand just how widespread these types of practices are. Things like WRP can exist and benefit the local landscape and economy but keeping it free of ice and/or snow has nothing to do with its intended purpose except to short stop waterfowl. There is a world of data compiled from HIP surveys and is available on the USFWS website. It covers from 1999 thru 2017. Yes Louisiana and Arkansas are pretty much the top two states as far ducks killed year over year. Per their report, it is interesting to note however that in 2012 Louisiana peaked at an estimated 103,589 registered duck hunters but has declined since to 46,879 as of 2017. That being said our long term average seasonal bag per hunter remains the highest of the entire flyway at 23.2 ducks per hunter per season. That tells me that fewer ducks are making the migration to Louisiana but are concentrated into smaller pockets, allowing far fewer hunters to harvest a higher average, giving the allusion that ducks are everywhere in our state. Also, no matter the amount of rice fields converted to sugar cane, that shouldn't affect the number of birds in Venice which has seen fewer and fewer birds showing up year over year. In fact, the argument could be made that wintering ducks in Venice should increase given that circumstance. That's my take on it. I'll see if I can put the link on here for the USFWS report if anyone is interested.
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Re: What happened to the ducks
lanco1,No doubt the giant salvinia was a bear to deal with in Big Branch and hope and pray the Feds take the necessary steps to eradicate it pronto or LA will have lost yet another gem in our local list of gems that have fallen prey to invasive giant salvinia!I must be the world's biggest optimist but have gotten less and less optimistic due to keeping detailed duck hunt logs and when I kill as many mallards as I kill grey ducks,where greys used to predominate,something is definitely amiss!!Bayoubob has only been hunting with me for about the past 5-6 years and he totally missed the golden hunts we routinely made just a few years prior to Katrina and for a few years post Katrina,hunting basically the same series of difficult-to-access Big Branch ponds.Outside of the salvinia issue,the habitat in every pond I have been hunting the past 3-5 seasons is absolutely absurd it is so thick and when the N winds blow water out of the marsh,the grass extends above the surface,making it ridiculously hard to paddle through and a check of the type of grasses it is turns out to be coontail mixed in with tons of thick widgeon grass,kinda duck buffet for days so anyone proposing the lame excuse of lack of feed is way off base.Kinda hard to have normal migratory patterns when ducks have absolutely no reason to venture anywhere near Arkansas or LA and the situation has gotten worse year to year,with very few exceptions!!!Time to dust off the ole fly rod and sac a lait jigging poles and wait for Lady P to warm a tad for Causeway and Trestles trolling trips and sight-casting for reds,much less likelihood that those species will get 'short-stopped' or 'hot-cropped'!!!

Mandevillian
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Re: What happened to the ducks
I agree that ice eaters should be illegal, open water on a frozen landscape being 10X the draw of bait. But as to keeping snow off fields I'm not sure what technology you ate referring too unless that many guys are running snow blowers in their stubble ??

But as I stated before WRP, ice eaters and snow repelling force field we had already lost migrant canadas, 80% of our share of snows and 75% of the mallards. The issue is just plain old crop stubble and no till farming. And this year the overflow of the MS river system with all it's tributaries is swallowing up a lot of birds. There are ducks (wild migrants) in the flooded batture down here even. As to hunter numbers if they are down in LA (which I don't believe is supported by LDWF data) it sure isn't due to less hunters in SELA! I see way more rigs in the opening day parade than I did 20 years ago. It is a multi-factorial issue and just banning ice eaters isn't going to fix it (although I would support such a ban).
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Perhaps the biggest issue would be to get migrations back to normal as anyone with knowledge of duck behavior will tell ya once the young ducks get 'imprinted' by their parents,sometimes migratory patterns can be irreversibly altered to the point where they avoid the vast majority of the MS flyway,in favor of another neighboring flyway or just not make a complete migration.We did have a nice migration of grey ducks one particular week end but those birds,for one reason or another,decided they did not want to stick around,maybe weather forced them to reverse-migrate,they found a better and easier food supply,etc,not sure what happened to them and the problem was that they were for the most part not replaced by other migraters!!!Until we get back normal and predictable migratory patterns,get ready for seasons worse than this past one,if that is even possible!!!Maybe we need to start targeting wood ducks.My sister lives near Ochsner Main Campus and we were celebrating Wifey's birthday with half-sack of oysters and my older son and I heard flock after flock of whistling ducks not that far overhead and they definitely are not normal migraters but I guess sometime after Katrina,they started invading our areas,never see them in regular duck season,see em in teal season all the time and perhaps seeing clouds of them should tell us something amiss in normal and predictable migratory patterns!!

Mandevillian
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Re: What happened to the ducks
Here's the link for a report done by the USFWS dated December 3,2018. It includes data collected from HIP surveys from 1999 - 2017

https://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/pdf/surveys-and-data/DataBooks/MississippiFlywayDatabook.pdf

I'm positive there is some margin of error given HIP surveys rely on honesty. But the data gives a good snap shot of whats going on year over year. There's a ton of info in this report. Digest it on your own and come up with your own conclusions. To completely deny data collected from 18 hunting seasons would be no different than throwing your head in the sand.
We shouldn't get complacent and say 'oh well, that's just how it is' and not fight for our share. It would be an injustice for our younger generations to have to try and correct. Isn't it our duty as sportsmen and sportswomen to stand up and fight for the future? Not only for ourselves for our kids and grand kids.

lanco1, pretty sure snow blowing an ag field is futile effort, Scenario that does take place often in normal winter seasons when an ag field to our north has 2 to 3 ft or more of snow, the field is flooded with warm water. Water sourced comes from ponds with heaters. Once flooded water is circulated to keep from freezing.

I'll be the first to say I am not in favor of trying to outlaw 'ice eaters' or 'circulaters' or any of the numerous other techniques used further north in the flyway to give birds access to food. Most of us would do the same under the same circumstances. I mean who wouldn't throw a couple hundred pounds of corn in their pond if Louisiana suddenly made it legal? But I do think those types of practices to our north should at the very least be regulated and limited.
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Re: What happened to the ducks
LastCast,First of all,thanks immensely for attaching the link,I checked it out and will offer my interpretation once I dive into the data and analyze it but can definitely tell ya it looks like our bread-n-butter gadwall is in serious decline and I just might forego Regular Duck Season in favor of Teal Season,followed by routine and regular visits to Honey Island Swamp in Regular Duck Season for wood ducks.Not only are they way more plentiful,it appears that they can't be manipulated like the rest of the species we typically target.That,plus the fact that the limit on those incredibly delicious ducks is three(unless the Feds decide to lower that limit).I saw flock after flock of woodies today on Honey Island tree rat hunt and be willing to be that one could quite possibly limit on woodies on just about every trip out there.Why waste a bunch of time,money,effort on non-existent gadwalls and handful of mallards and virtually no teal,to speak of,in favor of a species that cooperates on routine,regular,non-manipulated basis.I guess this will fire up some folks, so be it!!!Good luck fishing today!!!Got my baby back yesterday and should be installing new Lowrance GPS/Depthfinder real soon.Then I can chase some reds and sac a lait and bass.Kinda hard to manipulate those but guess if one wanted to they might be able to alter their natural tendencies!!!

Mandevillian
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Re: What happened to the ducks
just joined the flyway federation guys. Josh Goins started this federation realizing what is going on and must be stopped. He has 10,000 members and 5,000 supporters in a year. He has proven data and records that he is fighting this with not speculation or a bunch of guys sitting around telling him why they not here no more this man is trying to make a serious push to return the migratory treaty act. We all know whats going on above us. How in the hell can they be allowed to have standing corn or so called remnants of corn on the ground pump in 12 to 18 inches of water then run guide services or hunt for fun over baited fields or ponds. Unbelievable!!!!!! Try and go put 3 to 700 lbs of corn in your pond under water and hunt it. In jail, under the jail, 5,000 dollar fine and 3 to 5 years no hunting. And then what you got caught doing is blasted with your name all over Louisiana sportsman and the don debuc show Seems perfectly fair right. To all south duck hunters not just LA hunters his membership is $60. $60 we all know that's 2 and a half boxes of shotgun shells which you wont need in the next 10 years if something doesn't change
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Re: What happened to the ducks
There are many forums for duck hunting in other states. I like to check them out to see what is going on in other areas. I found a very interesting recent post on a Arkansas forum. It is a link to the Hot Cropping article on Louisiana Sportsman. In the thread some of the farmers and hunters acknowledge the flooding of agriculture fields and how the practice is much more common these days. If you have some time check it out. It even has a link to the waterfowl federation video within the thread.

Click on the link below:

https://www.arkansashunting.net/threads/%E2%80%9Chot-cropping%E2%80%9D.241086/
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Re: What happened to the ducks
The best part is that they all say it holds ducks but doesn't really make for great hunting! Give us a good drought in the fall from Bunkie to St.Louis and we will kill some ducks. Its kinda like blaming Mardi Gras Pass for the lack of trout in Black Bay when the river is running over 12 feet in NOLA every May the better part of the last decade . It has been unusually wet since 2008 and it is disrupting quite a few things from ducks to oysters.
Excepting the 70's spillway openings have happened less than once a decade now we have had 4 openings in 10 years AND several intervening years with quite high rivers causing levee watches and near openings (river is 14+ at NOLA as we speak).

Year Days Bays Opened (%) Opened Ideal flow capacity
1937 48 285 81.4% 203,571 cu ft/s
1945 57 350 100% 250,000 cu ft/s
1950 38 350 100% 250,000 cu ft/s
1973 75 350 100% 250,000 cu ft/s
1975 13 225 64.3% 160,714 cu ft/s
1979 45 350 100% 250,000 cu ft/s
1983 35 350 100% 250,000 cu ft/s
1997 31 298 85.1% 212,857 cu ft/s
2008 31 160 45.7% 114,286 cu ft/s
2011 42 330 94.3% 235,714 cu ft/s
2016 22 210 60.0% 203,000 cu ft/s
2018 30 168 48.0% 196,000 cu ft/s

That water is good for ducks and the counts show that but its tough for hunting since it floods fields for free (in dry years not every impoundment will be flooded due to the fuel expenses involved which are considerable), floods woods, floods unimpounded fields and so on. And when you don't get snow/cold weather and most fronts feature a W -> E rather than NW-> SE winds in the upper levels so the ducks have no Jet Stream to migrate with ................ well it sucks. Some of what Goins says is true but some of it misses the mark. Those Canada geese that don't come here anymore aren't in standing flooded corn on a refuge they are in dry fields, winter wheat and beans ect. all over the plains. There have been dramatic changes in agriculture from 1960 to today that have fundamentally altered how geese and some ducks live. We went from dispersed dairy, swine and beef production on inumerable small holdings to highly centralized animal production for dairies and swine and the fattening of beef. Most corn is grown to feed or fatten livestock and in the past most of that corn was either gathered by hand into corn cribs or chopped into silage both of which leave relatively little residue in the fields post harvest and that residue was usually mopped up by then putting hogs or cattle on the fields to feed post-harvest. Today the dairy industry is concentrated in just a few areas and hogs and poultry are raised strictly on concrete in indoor facilities (excepting a few boutique operations) and cattle are raised on grass in areas then sent to large feedlots to fatten on grain. Since the feed is now being shipped it is combined off the ears creating 'waste grain' that feeds all our lost geese gorge on. I don't see a return to small mixed crop farming the way my great grandfather did it in the cards no matter how many hipster farmers markets spring up so this is the situation we are stuck with, hoping for weather to help us out.
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Re: What happened to the ducks
And its important not to loose sight of DU's actual primary function; to lobby for protections of wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region and CRP in the farm bill every year without which we will soon only have 30 days a year to worry about why we can't kill a 3 duck limit. Every project DU has ever been involved in in North America as a whole is only equivalent to 0.25% of the land mass of the continent so although they have some direct impact it is much less than the 20-30 million acres of cover the CRP creates annually and the wetland protections an via disincentives for draining ect.. Its important to note that the CRP and the WRP are separate things. No one can grow crops on CRP so its isn't impacting migration in any negative way' the opposite being true in fact, and it is a boon for duck production. Try to look at the big picture before you burn that DU card.
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