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High water not helping duck hunters

July 01, 2010 at 05:21 PM

Flooded corn in November and December is a duck hunter’s dream.

Flooded corn in June and early July is a duck hunter’s nightmare.

Guess what we face after the second-wettest June in Illinois history. Yep. Another summer of high water can only hurt what otherwise looked to be a promising duck season.

Recent flooding has wiped out most crops planted in waterfowl refuges along the Illinois River. Many other backwaters have not yet been planted and even moist-soil plants could struggle to germinate if water levels remain high.

“There’s an awful lot of corn flooded out,” said Marshall site superintendent Tony Colvin.

Colvin got an aerial view of the river valley last week while counting bald eagle nests. He reported flooded refuges in most duck clubs north of Spring Bay.

“It’s not a pretty scene,” Colvin said.

The picture will get uglier if water lingers. Aerial seeding buckwheat and millet is the only option left for most refuge managers, but even that could be dicey.

“Around here July 10 is about the last optimal day for Japanese millet,” Colvin said.

As we saw last fall during a dismal duck season, a lack of food in the river valley typically equates to a lack of ducks.

That sobering news balances encouraging reports from the Dakotas and Canada, where waterfowl breeding populations and
pond numbers are generally very good.

North Dakota’s spring duck count was up 12 percent and is the third-highest on record. Mallards were up 12 percent and were fourth-highest on record. Pond numbers were up 5 percent. Similar glowing reports have come from throughout the Prairie
Pothole Region.

So a 60-day duck season is virtually assured. Unfortunately, those might be a long 60 days for central Illinois waterfowlers.

Duck openers should be Oct. 16 for the North Zone and Oct. 30 for the Central Zone. Proposed Canada goose seasons are Oct. 16 to Jan. 8 in the North Zone with a split season for the Central Zone of Oct. 30-Nov. 14 and Nov. 24-Jan. 31.

Remember, these dates are proposed, not final.

Still to be determined is the South Zone, which could open Nov. 13 or Nov. 27 depending on Department of Natural Resources
Director Marc Miller’s decision. DNR staff backs a Nov. 27 opener but the DNR Advisory Board voted in favor of the earlier date on Tuesday in Springfield.

Several advisory board members said they were voting for the average, public hunter by targeting an earlier start date. Hunt clubs, meanwhile, prefer a later opener. Hmm, I wonder which side will prevail?

We should have final dates by the July 25 duck blind drawings at Illinois River public sites.

Speaking of the drawings, Colvin is asking Woodford drawing regulars to make plans for mass transit. Barring a rapid drop in river levels, Woodford’s drawing will likely he held at the maintenance building.

“We need people to carpool because there’s not much room up there,” Colvin said.

In other news, teal season is expected to run Sept. 4-19 while early Canada goose season will be Sept. 1-15.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Proof once again God hates duck hunters, or maybe just corn.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/04 at 11:32 AM

wow ...What a crock! Your not for the public hunter your for the Carlye hunter. If you wanted what the public wanted you would have told that the survey was 66% for the later season. Why would the advisory board go against the survey. They used the survey last year for an early season but won’t use it for a later season. MMMMMM. Who’s in whos pocket now. So don’t blame it on the club owners. And what’s wrong with the clubs wanting a later season. THey pull more hunters and put more money in circulation than the free public hunters, and I know because I’ve been a public hunter for 40+ years. All I know is, if your a real duck hunter you’ll kill more ducks later than early. You just have to be able to do the work instead of sitting around swapping bugs to shot a wood duck.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/04 at 10:06 PM

Oh by the way, maybe god doesn’t like Carlye hunters for wanting an early season so he’s punishing them.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/04 at 10:16 PM

July 10 last “optimal” date for millet??? Is that the same time table as “corn should be knee high by 4th of July”? Why not have the site managers at state duck places hold off flooding(blocking dropping water levels)so they are able to try and plant millet?  Blind winners do not need to have their blinds inspection ready 3 weeks before season. Maybe some of the later millet might produce something a duck might eat. Won’t know till they try. As proven last year duck clubs without feed is like a resturuant without food.  No matter how fancy it might look Nothing will stay around. This year especially we need to have some feed in Illinois to stop or slow the migration towards the oil spill.  In doing so might make for some later season hunts.  The river is dropping at around 6 inches a day.  Lets plant the millet August 1.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/05 at 02:55 PM

I’m right there with you mallardsrule.  I’m for the late season also for a fourth zone(lower 7 counties).  Early ducks leave from getting blown out, food is plentiful.  Late ducks stick around, their hungry.  Not rocket science is it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/08 at 11:41 AM

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