Dirt Today, Teal Tomorrow

Published on: Sep. 16, 2011

It is that time of year again when those little jet fighters of the waterfowl world begin to pass through our region. It is the time when you could be sweating and swatting at mosquitoes, or you could be enjoying the first cool winds of fall. We are well into teal season. While Duck Creek doesn’t typically provide much teal-hunting opportunity, in the coming years we should be able to increase the amount of teal-friendly habitat during this time of year.

Past Challenges

In the past, one of the challenges at Duck Creek was the location of early-season waterfowl hunting opportunity. The only areas that have ponded water in late summer and early fall are along the outer edges of the pools. These deeper areas exist because this is where the dirt was “borrowed” when the levees were built. Unfortunately, our borrowed ditches also harbor muskrats that burrow into the sides of our levees, creating holes and maintenance headaches year in and year out.

Another challenge is the location of our wells. If we turned the pumps on, we would flood nearly a quarter of the area two months before the regular waterfowl season. This isn’t preferable because it would cause the plants and seeds to start breaking down before the bulk of migrating waterfowl would have a chance to use our flooded “food bank.”

Our current renovation activities in units A and B are addressing these issues. By rearranging our levees and strategically placing our “borrows” in the center of the pools and tying them into a distribution channel, we will be able to provide more early-season hunting opportunity in the interior of the pools without compromising the bulk of our “food bank” before the regular waterfowl season.

So what will things look like in the coming years?

Across units A and B, we are creating series of scoured areas or shallow sloughs (roughly 2 feet deep). These areas will remain flooded during most summers, much like the existing borrows; however, they will be within the pool and not located next to a levee. This will remove the muskrat-related maintenance problems. Being tied directly to our water delivery channel, we won’t be compromising additional habitat and be able to flood these areas early. In these shallowly flooded areas, aquatic plants like pickerel weed, mud plantain and duck potato will provide structure for bugs and snails for early fall migrants, like teal, to forage on.

So why mention this during teal season?

We are already preparing to put this habitat on the ground. Currently, we are setting aside “starter” plants and raising them in nursery pools. Next summer we will plant these aquatic species within the scours to help jump-start the revegetation of the scoured locations. This will help us provide quality habitat with a quicker turnaround after such a large, earth-moving project.

This isn’t the first time we’ve tried this kind of work. You may have seen similar habitat in the shallow sloughs that were developed in Otter Slough’s Cul-de-sac Unit. Not only do the early season migrants, such as teal, enjoy these semi-permanently flooded habitats, but wood duck broods, wading birds and native fish also use these areas. It is another way to mimic how natural wetlands function to provide multiple benefits to the resource and its users. While it might be dirt today, we definitely have plans for plants and critters in the coming years.

Key Messages: 

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.

Comments

On October 15th, 2011 at 5:13pm Bandtaker1 said:

Hi How you guys doing? Here are a couple of questions for you. Are there any plans to incorporate Stilts Woods into the waterfowl hunting plans for the future? And is the old "C" Pool north of B1 being prepped for any future waterfowl hunting???

On October 13th, 2011 at 8:56pm Bandtaker1 said:

Your october 10th comment left out Field 19 and the handicap position on the north west end of Unit A. Total huntable areas in Unit A was 10 prior to the new work being done!

On October 10th, 2011 at 3:13pm cordek said:

Hunting positions will be allocated in Units A and B basically like they have always been; through the morning drawing.  The pools will exist differently on the landscape and access will be changed, but there will be at least as many positions as before the renovation.  Unit A had 8 flooded positions and Unit B had 5 flooded positions, not all of which were hunted every day.  There were also 4 dry land goose pits in Unit B which will now have the capability of holding shallow water. The exact number of positions is yet to be determined but it is our goal to offer as much hunting opportunity as possible while maintaining a quality hunting experience for each available position.

On October 8th, 2011 at 9:27am Anonymous said:

How will hunting positions be allocated in the new Unit A/B ? There were originally 15-20 positions at peak levels. I hope there will be at least that many at full pool.

On October 4th, 2011 at 9:27am cordek said:

Field 1 and 2 may be accessed from Hwy 51 approximately 3 miles south of the HQ.  There is an entrance to a parking area just past the houses at Kinder.  Field 2 is adjacent to the highway and Field 1 is north of the tree line.

On October 4th, 2011 at 9:24am cordek said:

Field 49 can be accessed from the north Pool 1 road near the culvert where the trees have been cleared out.  There is no parking area but you are allowed to pull off the side of the road.  This road will be closed beginning October 15th.  The Fishponds can be accessed from Hwy 51 approximately 1/2 mile south of the HQ.  There is a large parking area near the shed.

On October 3rd, 2011 at 6:40pm Bandtaker1 said:

Same question for the fish ponds, field 1 and field 2. How do you access them? Is there a parking lot?

On October 2nd, 2011 at 9:45pm Bandtaker1 said:

How do you access 49? Is there a parking lot? Can you access it from the road on the north end of the lake?

On September 28th, 2011 at 9:15am cordek said:

There will not be a road built around the unit.  The road remains intact on the east portion of Unit A along Ditch 111.  The road also remains west (on the south end) to where a new water control structure will be placed between 16 and 48S. The road remains west (on the north end) past 13-14 parking area to the road leading out to Z hwy.  There will be another road leading into the west part of the area from the parking area near field 37.

On September 28th, 2011 at 8:53am cordek said:

The north half of Pool 1, Field 1 and 2 at Kinder, the fishponds and field 49 north of Pool 1 will be available to hunt during the early goose season.  Unit A and Unit B will not be available to hunt during the early goose season, however, there should be some opportunity to allow hunters into portions of the construction area this winter.  We will have to wait to see where the contractors are at in the project to make these decisions, but I do not expect them able to do much work in January.

On September 27th, 2011 at 6:44pm Anonymous said:

Thanks for the reply so there will not be a road all the way around the unit anymore or will a new one be constructed further to the north.

On September 27th, 2011 at 4:47pm BUB said:

Will anything be open for early goose season ? I know discussion is still ongoing about hunting Unit A at all this year , but i would like some info about the possibilities of access into Unit A for goose hunting after the close of middle zone duck season .

On September 26th, 2011 at 6:13pm cordek said:

The road between Unit A and Unit B no longer exists. It is now a wetland pool.  The road between 14 and 13 is being removed but not entirely.  The northern quarter of its length will remain intact as this will function as part of the levee for the new pool by old 14.

On September 26th, 2011 at 5:40pm cordek said:

Pool 1 will be open for fishing through October 14. Waterfowl refuge begins at 12:01 a.m. on October 15 and lasts until sunset January 3.  All herbicide spraying on Pool 1 was applied by boat.  We are going to treat some larger areas by air next year.   Unit A will not be flooded this year, however, there will be some standing water in the scoured areas. We may allow some hunting opportunity if it does not interfere with the contractors and we can provide safe access to and from portions of the area.  The decision to allow hunter access will have to be made daily.  We are presently discussing this matter with the contractors.   Duck Creek received a little over four inches of rain on Sunday.  Ditch 104 got high enough to backflow through the culvert structure in Pool 2 and partially fill some of the boat lanes and low spots. However, it is still far too early to begin flooding the timber pools and there is still some discing to be done on the north end of Pool 2.  We allowed the water to drain back into the ditch so we can accomplish this work before duck season.  There is plenty of water in Pool 1 this year to flood Pools 2 and 3 so we will not need to rely on rainfall and flood events as the only source of water.

On September 25th, 2011 at 1:03pm Anonymous said:

Is duck creek catching this rain we are getting in pool 2, i know its not alot but i bet it would fill the boat lanes on the north end

On September 24th, 2011 at 11:50pm Anonymous said:

If unit a gets water in it during season will we be allowed to hunt it, as far as unit a and b being combined where will the road be moved to. Is the road between 14 and 13 be removed.

On September 24th, 2011 at 5:17pm Anonymous said:

can i interupt the duck season with one last fishing comment and question. the guys who did the spraying on the pads did a good job. i returned this past week after being away for the last 5 weeks and saw that a lot of the coverage was gone..thank you!! did you do the arial spraying? what date is the lake closing this year to fishing?? in the past years it closed on the 15th, but the last several years it closed on the 14th. thanks for all your work!!

On September 22nd, 2011 at 12:53pm frank said:

Thanks for the comments, questions, and over all interest in Duck Creek.  A few weeks ago I did post a couple extra pictures on the Aug. 25 P"rogress Report on Units A and B", in case you hadn't seen those. As far as maps go, also on the Aug. 25 post, at the bottom of the page is a link back to "Unit A and B Concepts".  This was from last fall and has a couple of maps of where the ditches will be filled and new scours will be cut.  This hasn't changed and is what we used to develop the engineering plans.  As we get closer to waterfowl season I'll try to put together a few more posts regarding Units A and B, showing what is goin on, and how it will work once we are done.  Next week, however, I'll give you guys an update on the acorn production in the timber.  Thanks again for your interest and support.

On September 21st, 2011 at 11:18am Carl Coupon said:

So what will things look like in the coming years? That was the very question in my mind reading through your post. With all those challenges to content with what becomes of the Duck Creek tomorrow. I bet it will worse than you reckon.

On September 20th, 2011 at 5:42pm BUB said:

I know we would all like to have everything open to hunt this year but that's not going to happen. I myself think in the end we will have some decent habitat to hunt. It's not going to happen overnight,but a few years down the road it could be awesome. Duck hunting is a game of chance,some days ya get em, and some days ya don't, but when it all comes together is what i call making memories. just wanna say to Frank and all the Duck Creek staff, thanks for all the hard work you guys and gals do to get everything ready for us hardcore duck and goose hunters to get out in the field and make more memories !!!!!

On September 20th, 2011 at 12:30am Duck Hunter said:

Could you post more pics of the work, and maybe a map of what it will look like when completed. Im real interested in the work at Duck Creek but have not seen as many pics on the project as we have in the past.

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On September 19th, 2011 at 8:29am frank said:

I wish we could do that.  Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as hooking and unhooking the power to the wells.  The dirt work requires for the old electric line to be ripped out because it is buried in a road that will be removed.  The new electric line will run down a new levee that is currently being built.  This will allow us to flood more ground to the west in Unit B.  We can’t run the line until the dirt work is completed.  I know this is inconvenient and would love to have things back to normal as soon as possible. All I can say is, hopefully things will dry up so that the work can be completed as planned and we can continue to move forward.  Thanks again for your patience.

On September 18th, 2011 at 4:44pm Anonymous said:

I was just wondering if all the dirt work is suppose to be done by season why dont you just hook the wells back up and flood it. Then after it is flooded they can rewire them, i know there isnt any food but it couldnt be any worse than pool 2 has been the last two years.
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