Wounded Ducks!!

foulshot

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Waterfowl Trouble: Not only has this been an extremely disappointing waterfowl season in California, but now duck hunters have the national Humane Society taking aim at them. The Humane Society issued a report this week saying many more waterfowl are being killed by hunters each year than has been reported. The group says crippling rates of up to 45 percent of all birds shot have been documented by nonhunting observers of hunts. The report goes on to say that skilled hunters wound approximately five ducks for every 10 killed outright, but novice hunters wound between five and 15 ducks for every 10 killed. Give some credit to the usually staunchly anti-hunting Humane Society. It doesn't call for an end to waterfowl hunting. The animal rights organization simply asks hunters to avoid skybusting (shooting ducks out of kill range) and to demand more of themselves as shooters.
By Ed Zieralski
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

November 30, 2001

Is this the fault of hunters?  Or the restrictions put on waterfowl?
I can only speak for myself and the guys that I hunt with, but the number of wounded birds lost is maybe 1-3 per season.
 

Kentuck

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I don't think my lost bird numbers are more than 1-3 a year but I do know that since steel forced on us I have had a few birds get up and fly away after knocking them down while I was climbing out of the blind. Should have gotten a dog a long time ago. I remember one duck I rolled, cloud of feathers and as I got up to go retrieve it, it got up and flew away. Flew as far as I could see it. It was probably about a twenty yard shot when I took it. Interesting that they would take sides with most duck hunters in the fact that we would like to see less sky busting.
 

d trees

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thats a bunch of crap , any buddy else looing 50 percent of there birds not me or any of my bro's.

(Edited by d trees at 5:39 pm on Nov. 30, 2001)
 
O

outdoorsman

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Last year I shot more birds than any other season.  I may have lost 7-8 birds, but it wasn't for lack of trying.  I didn't hunt with a dog, so I put even more effort into finding my birds.  Also, had a couple drop then just get up and fly away. What about the number of birds lost after the season is over to over population on refuges ??  Let the Humane Society look at those numbers !!
 

steve

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I find that pretty hard to believe.Wounding 5 for every 10 taken,I think you would see a lot more hunters making that trek back to the vehicle for more shells.
I would like to see their documentation, they could just possible add up ducks they find on or near refuges and claim they were wounded and died. If you shot at a bird does that count as one wounded.
Everyone loses a bird sometime but within my group of friends maybe a bird or 2 a season.
 

mudroller

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Any time one of those goody-goody a$$holes brings that up, remind them that the HUMANE SOCIETY kills more animals each year than any other group out there. Just ask them how many dogs and cat were gassed or juiced by them. I refuse to give them any money, I don't license my dogs in the area I live in so they don't get the moneyand I don't donate to the United WAy so they don't sneak any money to them either.
 

huntducks

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First of all I think it depends on were you hunt, if it's open water or stuble you should not be losing many birds.

If it's around tules and heavy overgrowth you will be losing more even with a dog.

I would say the average hunter loses 2- 3 birds to every one he gets, but have seen the dike walkers and jump shooters pick up up a fair number of them so I guess they were not totaly lost.

With the 25 shell limit on state & most federal refuges, how many shells will you waste on a cripple going low profile swimming away at 40-50 yards?

Wishful thinking bring back LEAD & do away with the 25 shell limit.
 

Woodduck

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I just lost my first bird for the season this Saturday at Delevan.  I don't hunt with a dog, but I also am very careful not to shoot high and I sure mark birds when they fall.  The bird I last Saturday was way alive and came down within 15 yards of my partner.  To no avail.  It high-tailed it to safety!  

One point not addressed by the so-called study referenced in this post, how many are picked up by people working dogs through the refuge.  I know several people that make a living working their dog through the checks and levees.  That is as good as a clean kill.

And one last point, while hunter may cripple some birds, the marsh is a very effective  in handling the weak.  Hawks, eagles, foxes, etc. feed on crippled birds.  It is just one more part of the food  chain!
 

limit7

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As usual the animal rights (animals don’t have rights) groups want it both ways.  They
want us to use more expensive non-toxic inferior shot and elimate wounded waterfowl.
Actually what they really want us to do is buy licenses, stamps, tags, and special hunts but don’t
hunt.  
 

hntndux

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As usual, their numbers are a little skewed...  I keep detailed records of all hunts I'm involved in and in the past 4 years here are the numbers of group totals (hunters) for the entire season and the number of birds killed (retrieved) and lost/sailed birds not retrieved.  1997= 41hntrs/218ducks/28lost - 11% loss rate.  1998= 66hntrs/313ducks/21lost - 6%.  1999= 48hntrs/180ducks/16lost - 8%.  2000= 46hntrs/139ducks/19lost - 13%.  So far this year...22hntrs/107ducks/6lost - 5%.  The average is about 1 lost for every 10 killed and I'd venture to say these numbers are close to the "actual" numbers found amongst ourselves.  I must admit though, that I've seen skybusters sail 3-5 birds for every bird retrieved.  This is the exception though rather than the rule as the anti's would lead one to believe...


(Edited by hntndux at 11:07 am on Dec. 3, 2001)


(Edited by hntndux at 11:11 am on Dec. 3, 2001)
 

songdog

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I think that hntndux hit the nail on the head.  As much as I dislike steel shot it will still kill a duck stone dead when shot at the proper range.  Especially the newer steel shot they're making today.

Even the best wingshots will be a little behind on a bird and loose one to a bad shot now and then.  And there will always be super duck that can still fly several hundred yards with 20 pellets in him.  Thick tules always get a few if you don't have a dog... However, and it's just an opinion, I'm willing to bet that 90% of the ducks that I see wounded are from skybusting.  At least the ones that I can see from the blind next to me when I'm hunting one of the refuges.

Ironically, the poor hunting at some of the southern refuges this year (Wister) only seems to make this worse.  The few birds that people see 70 yards up end up getting shot at and either flare them for someone else or wound them for later.  I bet I've heard from 10+ guys who came back to their trucks at Wister with 25 shells in their pockets after 4-6 hours of hunting.

Sorry for the whining... still down on the Wister management and what appears to be the increasing percentage of slob hunters down there...
 

limit7

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I agree with hntndux, with a 1 lost/10 kills ratio.  Hunting sure would be better if people only shot decoying ducks.  But with so cal duck hunting so poor this year, that is pretty unrealistic.   There are too many guys are out there that want to shoot and not hunt.  It takes a while to not shoot and enjoy hunting.
 

Speckmisser

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I'm a little hesitant to post this, since I often seem to post in concurrence with some environmental organizations.  But sometimes the devil's advocate needs to speak up, unpopular as that may be.  

First of all, the Humane Society itself is not an anti-hunting organization.  They are often confused, however, with the Humane Society of the United States, which IS anti-hunting.  The HSUS chose their name specifically because it is so close to the other organization.  They want people to donate by mistake, and they want people to think that their press reports are reliable.  There were some lawsuits, but the real Humane Society is not a wealthy organization.  

The real Humane Society is actually a pretty good group, and their focus is usually on real animal cruelty issues (puppy farms, abuses in some circuses, etc.).  They also are champions of the Spay/Neuter movement and provide free services and clinics all over the country.  

It's unfortunate that their research showed this trend with duck hunting (they tried to do a similar study with big game, and their numbers for lost/crippled game came out lower than the numbers spouted by PETA in a similar research project), but I don't know that it's as far off as some of you may think.  

To be sure, when you knock down a cripple, I have no doubt that most of you put your top effort into finding that bird.  If you have a dog, losing a downed bird should hardly ever happen.  I know that, so far this year, I have only lost one downed bird, and we looked for him with two dogs.  

But knock-downs are only part of the crippled bird equation.

How many times have you blasted off at "miracle ducks"?  You know, the ones who must be bulletproof, because you know you hit them, but they fly off anyhow?  I know I have, and it happens almost every time I go out.  And I'm not talking about skybusting, but reasonable shots with wings cupped and gear down.  

Even a "clean" miss sometimes hits the bird with a pellet or two, and might kill him later.  Even those of you "expert" shooters out there who are hitting 75% or better are missing 25% of the time, right?  With a shotgun, there is seldom a "clean" miss.  

Very often, those birds fly away apparently unharmed, find a place to sit like the closed zones, and die quietly on the ground.  A lot of times one or two pellets have done their job, but just like big game, it takes a while for the bird's system to bleed out or shut down.  Ever watch one fly off like it's fine, then suddenly fold up and crash?  

Ever jump the birds out of the closed zone?  The healthy birds fly away, leaving the dead and crippled behind.  This is really easy to see in places like Delevan with the snow geese.  You'll see a flock of a couple hundred birds lift off, and then see the ones that don't fly with them still sitting there or already dead.  

There's a reason you hear the coyotes at Mendota crank up just after sunset on shoot days.  They know it's feeding time.  And all the eagles and hawks over the closed zone in Delevan and Sac?  They're feasting on the "miracle" ducks... the ones that flew off like nothing had happened.

And we've all heard about the guys at places like Mendota who'll go out on a Sunday afternoon with only a dog, and get a limit of birds... all crips that were either lost or flew off apparently untouched.  

These are the birds the Humane Society is counting, and while I view all negative hunting press with scepticism, I don't think their numbers are all that far off.  

There may be a lot of things to blame besides skybusting.  Steel shot is certainly not the efficient killer that lead was, although I had plenty of miracle ducks fly away toting a load of lead too.  And part of it is that ducks are just incredibly resilient animals, they're hard to kill instantly.

I think it's telling of the Humane Society's neutral stance that they recommend moderation and ethical hunting practices rather than abolition of hunting.  In contrast, PETA used their research to drive efforts to ban hunting.  

Personally, I think that cripples are part of the game, and that's just something we have to accept.  It impacts the counts, which later impacts our seasons and limits, so it's factored into the equation.  Scavengers have to eat too, so the crips aren't necessarily going to waste.  

I think that ethical sportsmen should do everything we can to minimize crippling and loss, but it's just going to happen...a lot of times without us even knowing we've crippled the bird.
 

limit7

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I do not know anything about the Humane Society, but I do know hunting data can be
used out of context.  Certain groups want to ban hunting and they will take any type of
data to stop hunting (take the California mountain lion).  I do agree with Speckmisser
on “miracle ducks” and that is a good point.   There is no perfect solution for crippled
birds, but you can’t remove lead shot and expect better kills.  

It is interesting though, and maybe I am reading between the lines, but just when steel is
getting cheaper is there going to be a push to ban steel?
 

MQ

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I have been keeping track of my results for about 20 years now and looking back over the years it looks like I lose about 15% without a dog and under 10% with a dog. The lost birds are either dropped into thick tules or sailed a couple checks over, where finding them is near impossible. I make every attempt to drop the birds over open water when hunting in the tules, but they dont always cooperate with their glide angle.
 

mudwalker

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Still being rather new at this whole duck hunting thing, I have been extremely worried about shooting at out of range ducks.  I have passed up shots that were in range because I wasn't sure, only to be teased later by my hunting partner.  It is a tricky business judging not only what type of bird it is but once identified, remembering how many I have of that kind or remembering if it is in season yet or not and so on.  Then you have to judge the kill range.  All in the amount of time it takes for a teal to go screaming past your decoys.  It is a lot to learn and remember.  So some of the skybusters just might be newbies.  I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.
All that said, every time I go to hunt public land, I see dumb asses shooting at anything with wings whether it is in range or not, laughing the whole time.   I know everyone has seen this.  We shake are heads and hope they run out of shells soon.  Is there more we should be doing?  
Speckmisser has us look to ourselves and see the reality of our misses.  This is a good point from him as usual.  But once we account to ourselves about our shots, what about the less enlightened?  How can we get the word out to them?  
 

huntducks

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MudWalker

Cripples are just part of the game, I hate to lose any ducks but especialy big ducks like Mallards & Pins.

I have a dog she has a great nose, but being handicapped I have a hard time chasing them crips and she has a hard time in tule choaked ponds that are deep that she can only swim in, so I just except the cripples I make every effort to get what I can and very seldom double on ducks any more because I keep shooting the same bird most of the time even when it's on the way down.

I just figured out my totals for the year 52 ducks killed 11 crips lost 9 geese killed 0 crips and these are only what I know of not the ones that fly away looking unhit.

So that looks like i'm losing 1 bird for every 4.7 I get.

I don't think that it is all that bad considering we have to use steel and have a 25 shell limit.
 

jackrabbit

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I'm not a real duck hunter, just cruising the site right now.  But about a dozen years ago Baldwin Lake up near Big Bear was open for duck hunting with no restrictions other than the regular rules.  It was bluebird weather, but freezing cold.  The ducks were all rafting far from shore, and the guys in boats were sky-busting something terrible.  But guess what, I got my limit both Saturday and Sunday by waiting until 10:00 AM and then using my Labrador to flush cripples as we worked around the shoreline -- just like pheasant hunting!  All the ducks I got landed in deep water, but I had trained my Lab well for water retrievals (not hard for a Lab).  Seems like in some areas maybe a clean up period could help on public areas -- just thought I would pipe in here, see ya.
 

Greenhead

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Speckmisser makes an excellent point, and I think it's the point that the Humane Society was making, too. There's a big difference in crips lost and birds that fly a mile, relax in the closed zone and never wake up in the morning.

Just this past Saturday, three of us pounded two flights of specs, and only one bird dropped. Who knows how many others have a pellet or two in them right now, festering away. The birds were plenty low enough, but when combined with the wind, sometimes, they just won't come down.

At the LK last month, I watched as a big, dumb honker, got up out of the closed zone, flew out over another group of hunters in 9(a) and promptly took 12 rounds at close range. His wing was mangled and he was limping hard, but he made it back to the closed zone. No doubt he was dead in a matter of hours.

I've personally smacked many a duck, and watched others do the same, and blown off enough feathers to make a pillow for my couch, only to have the duck keep on going and disappear. Did it eventually die? Probably.

Ever seen those ducks fly the gauntlet of shots only to survive and fly away? I think many times they've caught a pellet or two, and their time is near.

I think we all hit many birds that don't come down. Put one in the back of the body cavity and they often won't flinch. But, they will die.
 

Bodie

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From my experience, hunting with my dog (Lab), sometimes he out hunts me.  What I mean is that he ends up finding more cripples (caused by other hunters) in the tules, ditches etc. then I shoot.  Example:  During the first Monday of pheasant season this year I hunted the blind area at Delevan.  I shot three birds and my dog found three crippled pheasants, plus one duck.  I gave the extra pheasant away in the field to people that wanted them, but I wanted nothing to do with the duck since it was a Monday.  It seemed like a waste to leave it there though, plus my dog was confused as to why I was leaving a bird he brought me.

So the numbers from the Humane Society mention the number of birds crippled, but they need to collect some data on the number of cripples found by dogs and other means.  I think that this would reduce the number significantly.  Too me it sounds like an incomplete research study, which needs to broaden its scope.
 
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