February 18, 2019 at 12:58pm
All of you guys comments, facts, and theories raise valid points. We all have the right to debate and ask questions, it is one of the many great things that comes from living in a free country. I have hunted in SE Louisiana all my life. I am 32 years old and I have seen the evolution of duck hunting. I was lucky enough to hunt 5,000 acres of private land my father was passed from his father. It was a beautiful place just west of Lake Theriot. From opening day to the last day of the season, we had the option of shooting mallards, pintail, wigeon, grey ducks, and teal. I can remember killing my limit of mallards wearing short sleeves. I can also remember my dad saying ' Its frozen up north, we need to be at the camp'. He was always right, we would show up on Friday afternoon and head out to put decoys out for the morning hunt. I would be amazed by the massive amount of new birds that showed up due to the incoming cold front. A few days later, the weather would warm up and those new birds would head back north. We would still hold a large number of ducks or what we called them ' Local Birds'. These ducks would remain in the area throughout the season and naturally become more and more difficult to hunt. Another cold front would push down and fresh ducks would be pushed as well. It was a constant cycle. My freshman year in high school we decided to give up the land, and start deer hunting. My dad was passionate about bow hunting and wanted to pursue it. I enjoyed deer hunting with him, and I continued duck hunting in SE Louisiana as well. I watched the duck hunting in our state start decline over the next 10 years. Yes I still had many great hunts, but overall the numbers became fewer and fewer. Six years ago, I started duck hunting in Oklahoma and it was mind blowing the amount of ducks we killed. I saw first hand my theory on the evolution of duck hunting. Yes there were days, we used Ice Heaters. When our irrigation ponds would freeze, we would break open a small hole in the pond and throw an ice heater out while we hunted. When the hunt was finished, the ice heater was removed and the hole would freeze over. After three or four days of constant ice, the ducks would disappear. The crazy thing about it is, the ducks would not go SOUTH. They would fly back north to several reservoir lakes and hold up, until the ice melted. Once the ice melted the ducks could go back to their normal patterns. The amount of food that is readily available for the ducks up there is endless. Due to farmers evolving their farming practices to becoming more efficient on harvesting, rotating, and top sowing crops. I could walk across a cut corn field and what the combines left on the ground, the ducks would find. The farmers up there did not plow out the field. They would top sow winter wheat ( another food source). Soybeans are harvested the exact same way, what the combine doesn't pick up, the ducks find. The millet up there is harvested and what the combine doesn't pick up, the ducks find. I can go on and on, and whatever crop is harvested the results are the same. Look up 'No Till' farming and read the history of it. Farmers found a direct way to become more efficient and were able to double and even triple the income from the land they farmed. Indirectly that same practice, has caused a major change in the migration habits of our waterfowl. I am not saying this is the only cause for the change, so do not assume I am. Take a look at the last 5 'Farm Bill Acts' and how they have changed farming practices. Took a look at the 2007 Farm Bill Act and how Ethanol became a huge player in the change of farming practices. The amount of Ethanol that was needed to meet the Farm Bills requirements was almost 10xs higher than the previous bill. Farmers again found a direct way to take back and utilize land that wasn't being used before. Again, farmers planting more corn and using NO TILL practices indirectly affected our waterfowl migration habits. Just like humans, waterfowl have evolved to ensure their survival. Generations of existing waterfowl offspring are evolving year after year. The ducks are learning that they do not need to make the long journey south to the marsh we all enjoy hunting. If you had to drive two hours to buy groceries and a new grocery store was built five minutes away, would you still drive the two hours? The answer is NO, you wouldn't. No matter how upset the owner of the store two hours would be, you would still drive five minutes to the new store. These generations of ducks have learned and adapted to the ever changing world around them. There is a bigger picture surrounding the use of 'Ice heaters, hot cropping, or whatever people want to call it'. Again, do not assume I am saying these are the only factors for the change in migration. What I will say is, as a hole I can almost guarantee the practices listed above far outweigh the affect in the migration change, than 'ice heaters, hot cropping, etc....' Ice heaters, hot cropping, mojos, etc can be banned and that might have a small noticeable affect, but overall it will not change waterfowls constant evolution. Rivers and reservoir lakes in the lower 48 states will always remain open. 'Climate Change, no Climate Change' we all know Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, etc, have never stayed locked up with ice all season long. As much as I hate to say this, until those states freeze, and are completely covered with snow for 60 straight days or the practices listed above are no longer used, the migration will be forever changed. Please take the time to research the practices listed above, create a timeline and I am positive that timeline will coincide with the change in the migration. Do I wish I was still able to drive thirty minutes and enjoy some of the best duck hunting ever? Yes, absolutely, but the very same land I once hunted, no longer holds even a fraction of the waterfowl it once did. As a hunter, I have evolved and adapted with the changes in the migration of our waterfowl. Like it or not, I did it because I know the days of old are long gone.