Well, another waterfowl season has come to a close. Once again, this year was different from the last. Duck Creek’s waterfowl numbers peaked at the end of November and first of December (Figure 1). Birds dispersed as we experienced our first ice and as the Castor River got out of its banks. We experienced a second, smaller peak towards the end of December before the end of the season.
Our duck harvest across the season reflected a similar pattern. During the first two weeks of November, wood ducks carried the harvest as the number of Mallards started to increase (Figure 2). The harvest of our “other” ducks peaked around Thanksgiving as the early migrants passed through. The peak in mallard harvest was similar to their peak in abundance on the area during the first week of December. The harvest also reflected the dip in birds as our mallard harvest fell between Dec. 12-18, before rising again to finish out the season.
Overall, 8,000 ducks (4,296 mallards) were harvested by 4,298 hunters in 2011. Prior to the beginning of the Duck Creek Renovation, 4,000 to 5,000 hunter trips were averaged between 2007 and 2009. We hope you had a great season and were able to get out on the area and contribute to these numbers.
Now that the 2011 waterfowl season is over we have already begun preparing for the 2012 season. Water levels in pools 2 and 3 have been lowered to increase the amount of shallow water to be available for the ducks to forage in. The strategy is working. You can go out today and drive around the pools and see quite a few birds in the timber. If you take time to stop and listen, you’ll hear a bunch of happy ducks feeding on bugs, getting ready for courtship and the long flight back north.
As you start to go through your gear and put your decoys away, I know waterfowl may still be on your mind. If you need your fix of seeing birds, they’re still on the area and looking sharper than ever as spring quickly approaches. If the road is open, you’re more than welcome to drive around and take a look.
Thanks again for a great 2011 waterfowl season.