Field and Stream article.

BigDog

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Ok, it has been too quiet on the page. Time to stir it up. During and after the last two seasons, people here talked about how many ducks they take in a season. I could not believe some of the numbers stated. 200 + birds in a season, bag limits every day and so forth.
The following is an article from the Aug Field and Stream that addresses this subject. I think it hits the mark pretty well.

Unfortunately, it is rather long. And, it is not on line yet so I had to retype it. So, please excuse any typing errors. But, I think it is an important observation that we all need to think about. Here goes.....

ANOTHER LOUSY DUCK SEASON?

Article in the latest Field and Stream. By George Reiger

Hunters asked the same question in marshes from coast to coast last season: Where’re the ducks?! Greorge Krammerer III, board chairman of the CWA, complained, “Despite ‘liberal’ regulations, opportunities to bag more than a couple of birds have been few and far between. Even in foul weather, flights are sparse, and the adrenaline rushes are insufficient to keep the biting cold at bay.”
  After the season ended, David Wielicki, executive director of the South Carolina Waterfowl Association, summarized, “If it weren’t for our mallard-release program, local duck hunters would have had little action. We no longer see the big flocks of northern mallards that once wintered here. And since we can’t always count on cold fronts to drive other ducks this far south, we’re going to expand our release of high-quality mallards. Last year, that meant 42,500 birds; this year, we plan to release 56,000.”
  Even perennially upbeat Ducks Unlimited admitted that, for most hunters, last year was a bust. In a publicity release, DU stated that although “biologists across the continent had warned us of a somewhat reduced fall flight…. That certainly is not an adequate explanation for what occurred during this past duck season.”
  Yet few voices in the Waterfowl Establishment mentioned the most logical reason for the dearth of ducks-namely, that the birds weren’t there in the first place.
  Agencies and organizations with a vested interest in the status quo mostly blamed the weather. But how do you explain the birds’ scarcity in areas where winter-weather patterns were normal? DU stressed record breaking warmth in Iowa and ignored conditions in Michigan, where goldeneyes arrived on the heels of timely cold fronts, but not much else did.
  Kammerer suggested three ways to solve the poor showing in his state: “First, ducks need to produce more naïve young birds in nesting areas important to California’s water fowl…Second, ducks must be encouraged to fly away from the safety of sanctuaries and lightly hunted areas that have increased so dramatically in the past decade… And third, we must pursue the strategies to get birds to return to their historic withering distribution patterns so that our southern habitats are not as vacant.”
  Since our urbanized society continues to be more, rather than less, suspicious of hunters and hunting, I don’t anticipate any reversal of the nation’s trend toward “sanctuaries and lightly hunted areas.” As for getting “birds to return to their historic wintering distribution patterns,” this would take years of intensive (and expensive) micro-management, including many closed seasons in those areas where we wanted the birds back.
  Only Kammerer’s first suggestion is feasible. But in order to get ducks “to produce more naïve young birds,” we need more ducks to begin with. And we’re not going to get them by continuing to overshoot the flocks we have.

Let’s examine a few statistics: Although the number of Canadian duck hunters continues to dwindle-thanks in large measure to the country’s draconian gun laws- the number of American duck hunters has increased by 25 percent over the past decade to the present 1.6 million.
  Furthermore, many of those hunters are no longer content to wait for the birds to come south. They pack up and go where the action is. That’s why the average duck hunter killed only 5.2 ducks per season a decade ago but now kills nearly twice that many.
  The North Dakota alone, the number of bagged ducks rose from a estimated 60,000 during the 1992-1993 season to 557,000 during the 2000-2001 season. Much of this increased kill was made by nonresident hunters. In 1992-1993, less than 30 percent of North Dakota licenses went to nonresident; last year, roughly 70 percent did.
  Let’s examine a few more number. The U.S. fish and Wildlife Service calculates that the Conservation Reserve Program in the Dakotas and eastern Montana helps produce 2.1 million more mallard, pintail, gadwall, shovelers, and greenwing teal than would be in the system without CRP. That estimate is part of the USFWS’s rationale for maintaining six and seven bird daily bag limits in the Mississippi, Central, and Pacific Flyways. Yet these generous limits have resulted in an increase in the annual kill in these western flyways of approximately 2.5 million mallards, pintail, gadwall, shovelers and greenwing teal.
  The bottom line?
  Instead of conserving CRP’s “bonus ducks” to sustain prime species during drought cycles-such as the one we’ve already entered, the USFWS continues to authorize ultraliberal bag limits that not only wipe out the CRP dividend but eliminate many hundreds of thousands of other birds. After all, the USFWS itself reckons that for every four ducks bagged, at least one other is crippled and lost, Less biased observers put the ratio a 3 to 1.
  The principal problem of North American waterfowling is not short-stopping, predation, disease, or even weather. It’s greed, pure and simple. A growing number of sportsmen may realize that a quality hunt is in seeing lots of birds and being able to kill a few, not in being able to kill the only few they see. But so long as daily bag limits remain two and three birds more than they were half a century ago when we had 25 million more ducks in the flyways, most hunters will not restrict themselves to two or three drakes a day, knowing that the next group down the line will try to kill “all the law allows.”
  Perhaps the only really responsible duck hunters today are members of waterfowl associations that raise and/or release more ducks than they shoot. Sadly, state and federal biologists compound their failed management by trying to outlaw such private programs. Yet these programs exist precisely because biologists continue to promulgate seasons and limits designed to accommodate the shooter’s short-term goal of maximum kill rather than the sportsman’s long-term goal of optimum yield.
 



huntducks

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I have no problem with the limit at 4 or 5 birds matter of fact it was so much better in the 80's when it was about 1/3 less hunter in the field, maybe they should do away with the possession limits and make it a combined bag limit one day 7 ducks two days 7 ducks one week 7 ducks if you want to shoot 7 a day you best eat 7 per day.

I know Alaska has one bag limit for residents and a lower one for non- residents.

Just maybe they need a punch card in the Dakots say a 30 bird limit for NR during the season. and no shipping of birds home, the punch card would have to be on the honor system but just like the Ab's here in Ca. you get caught with a limit and your away from the water and have not filled out your card ticket city.

I'm dead set on this one I feel the refuges should not post the shoot total from the day before, and quit posting the spaced blind results and area,  just a over all total for the prior week like 300 hunters 600 ducks 100 geese.

I know some of you will say that's not fair I only hunt 2-3 times a year and depend on the count to pick my blind or area, in this case what about the ducks, and how do you pick your area on opening day.

GOOD POST. :smiley-thumbs-up:

(Edited by huntducks at 7:24 pm on July 28, 2002)
 

Drake Slayer

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I don't think not posting averages will help the ducks, only the more experienced duck hunters. The same number of ducks will die only the ones"in the know" will get them. I believe the numbers help the more inexperienced hunters have a good hunt.Almost anywhere is good on opening day. Hell I lotto on at Yolo and shoot an easy limit opening day if I don't get a draw.At the places I hunt regularly I know the best spots and some secret alternatives. I do use blind averages if I go to an area I seldom hunt and take my kid. I am one of those people who shoot 60-150 ducks a year and yes my family eats them all. I had a decent year last year better than the previous one but not as good as my average.I don't feel compelled to shoot 7 ducks all the time but do given the chance at quality birds. A 5 bird limit would be fine if that's what's needed.Last year I saw lots of ducks sitting on rot water and only moving 500 yds to feed( park along Riego rd at dusk).There are many more areas like this. What the ducks need is avcombination of things. Better and more nesting areas, predator control,and more ducks returning south,.
 

Mike Riley

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All I can say is George Reiger is a menance to hunting.  It really makes me wonder what F&S's editors are thinking when they utilize him.  If we followed Reiger it won't anti's that kill hunting - it would be ourselves.
 

karstic

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Mike could you give some reasoning behind your conclusion? Rather than a blank statement that he is wrong. Why is he wrong?
 

BigDog

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I second karstic's request. I would like to see your justification for such a statement. All he is suggesting is that we use some constraint and common sense along with everything that we are doing now.
 

huntducks

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Drake Slayer

I'll disagree with you on the posting on refuges, because I myself have got caught in that game, I would read where 2 guys shot 10 birds so that means if 2 of us use the same blind and don't shoot at least 10, but 12 or 14 would be better, we might be looked at as lesser hunters poor shots something, like I said I did at one time get caught in that game, now I don't give a damn, and I can say that does happen and many of my friends have said the same.

There is one refuge that I hunt here down south every Wed. that i'm in town and I know the guy's at the check station and a have a repution of killing birds there when other don't and making the most of my shots, well up until last year I got caught up in that game and knowing what the area did the Sat before 2 hunter 10 ducks or what ever made me push for 2 hunters 11 ducks 1 hunter 7 ducks but it always had to be better or it was a poor day other wise i'm 54 and I got caught in that trap, I can imagine what the young drakes are thinking, I don't remember having this attitude years ago before they started posting scores.

You may not see it that way but I do, and the competive nature of duck hunting has IMO been a detretment to hunting so do away with the box scores, don't get me wrong I enjoy shooting as many ducks as i'm allowed some days, but I don't need to any longer nore do I feel less of a hunter if I don't, I have nothing to prove to myself or my peers and as soon as other start feeling that way duck hunting will survive the test of time and every year we will return greater numbers of duck north.

I would much rather make two 50 yard shots on two big drake ducks then kill a limit landing in my decoys but that is just ME.

(Edited by huntducks at 9:43 am on July 31, 2002)


(Edited by huntducks at 9:52 am on July 31, 2002)
 

Mike Riley

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You guys need to go read Riegers articles over the last 5-10 years.  His theories on game management and hunting are scary.  This article is less incorrect than most, but he quotes Greorge Krammerer III, A PAST board chairman of the CWA, who hunts waterfowl only a couple of times a year saying, “Despite ‘liberal’ regulations, opportunities to bag more than a couple of birds have been few and far between. Even in foul weather, flights are sparse, and the adrenaline rushes are insufficient to keep the biting cold at bay.”  Now guys if you were out the last couple of weeks last year and didn't see birds you're blind or you've got to quit shooting a blind in the Wal Mart parking lot.  I hunt primarily refuges in NoCal and there was almost never a day where I couldn't have limited - didn't always because I am picker than most as to what species I shoot, but there were birds.  George is right on the money about "Second, ducks must be encouraged to fly away from the safety of sanctuaries and lightly hunted areas that have increased so dramatically in the past decade".  Reiger has spend almost no time in CA and has probably never seen the "Rot Water Close Zones" in CA.  Just Hofmann's, Lupe's, a Larabee's have added private sanctuaries the equivalent of 3 non-hunted Wildlife Areas.  There were TONS of birds holding in NoCal - there just on Refuge close zones and these new private sanctuaries.  When the flooding & cold weather forced movement off these private place areas there were bird everywhere.  Now mallards in CA were a different story.  They were obviously down.  The best ways to increase those numbers are more nesting/brood habitat which DU and USFWS (check Kim Forrest article in latest CWA mag) aren't helping out and ban Moto (for obvious reasons).  It's not release birds Rieger, but raising birds (building nesting habitat).  Just a few quick thoughts.


(Edited by Mike Riley at 9:27 pm on July 31, 2002)
 

Cazador Suerte II

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Would rather make two 50 yard shots than kill a limit landing in the decoys?  

WHAT????

Why would you care what other hunters did on a completely different hunt?

Duck hunting is about the entire experience, not how many birds that you kill.  
If you are hunting for the competition, then you should quit now and take up raquetball!
 

karstic

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I hunt only a few times a year in Socal due to the fact that the refuges are at least 2-3 hours away. Does that make me less of a hunter? Last year sucked in Socal, not just from my experience but by the experiences posted on this board and others. When the resource is down, do we still keep hammering it or do we lay off?
 

huntducks

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That's right I would much rather make two 50 yards shots on say a drake Pin, Mallard Can or RH then shoot 7 birds 10 feet up and 20 yds out landing in decoys.

I killed my first duck in 1954 i'm told I was 6 years old, to this day I remember the shot with my brothers 12ga and all the rest was told to me where when how what.

I know you will find this hard to beleive but the majorty of duck hunters then did nothing but pass shoot, decoys were expensive and HEAVY a doz. general fiber Mallards or Pins weighted a ton and  there was no decoy bags to carry them in nor carts just a old burlap feed sack with two hole at the top to slip your gun barrel through, and waders were the plastic type that did nothing but leak.

I have pass shot duck & geese at what use to be called the fireing line at tule lake along with the pass between LK & Tule, I pass shot the west side of Sac. refuge along I-5 matter in fact you retreived birds right off the Hwy.I pass shot geese going into Dorris Res. in Alturas and many other small lakes & res. up there, I pass shot geese coming & going from Chino prison, I pass shot ducks along whitewater canel and same from Beach & Noffsinger road, and beleive it or not I enjoyed it more then decoying any duck the thrill of watching a bird fall from 50 60 70 yards up was far greater then ever shooting one landing, when the Ithaca mag 10 came out I bought one 1975 still have it, and beleive me 2oz of copper plated buffered graphited #2 lead behind 44 grs of blue dot with a BP wad killed duck STONE dead at 80 yards.

I enjoy decoying ducks but a little of that goes along way, geese I do enjoy decoying, and decoying Mallards in timber should be enjoyed once by everyone I could not get enought of that.

So I hope I explaned myself and why I would rather shoot 2 duck pass shooting.

Decoying is all the rage now and if your a pass shooter many consider you a sky buster now, I still enjoy duck hunting and get out at least 40 days a season how ever you want to do it is fine with me.

If you don't think duck hunter are competive and make wagers and look at the numbers you got another lesson to learn because they are, ever drive through a parking lot at one of the refuges and there is always several trucks with a strap full of ducks hanging in plane site why is that, bragging yes if they only shot 2-3 birds do you think they would have there strap hanging out, the guy driving by see's it and joins in on his next trip and it snowballs and the trip is then measured by the kill and not the enjoyment.

Do I think it's wrong for a guy to shoot a limit hell no I don't think it's wrong, I just think It's wrong to measure your enjoyment by the amount of birds you shot.

Two of the most enjoyable trips I had last year was watching my son triple on Mallards at Kern and he & I  on opening day, not measured by the number of ducks but it was the first time we had hunted together in 4 years do to him being away at college, we not only limited on ducks but shot at least 20 mudhens LOL all morning over it.

(Edited by huntducks at 10:13 am on Aug. 1, 2002)
 


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