Duck Creek CA UpdatesMore posts

A look at the coming year: Challenges and Opportunities at Duck Creek

Feb 01, 2011

I just wanted to check in with folks and lay out what we can expect in the next year.  I also wanted to address some common questions that we get about different parts of Duck Creek.


Over time, habitat quality has changed on Duck Creek.  Likewise, hunting opportunity and quality has also decreased in certain locations. Part of this is because 60 years ago we didn't understand the complexity and role of variability within wetland systems, especially in bottomland hardwoods.  Things have not only changed on Duck Creek, but the surrounding landscape has also changed over time (land use, habitat, water use, etc.).  These factors have had their affect on waterfowl and other species. 

2010 and 2011

During the fall of 2010, weather, worn out infrastructure, and construction limited hunting opportunity in the timber (Pools 2, 3, 8).  For those of you that did get out to hunt on Duck Creek, we had some pretty successful days.  I hope you were able to take part. 

As we proceed through our renovation, where and how many hunting positions will change as projects start and finish.  In the fall of 2011, it is highly unlikely that Unit A and B will be flooded due to renovation activities.  However, weather providing, we should be able to flood and hunt Pools 2 and 3 in fall of 2011.  Like many challenges today, there is not a silver bullet answer to the “problems” of Duck Creek because of complex issues (social, economic, and ecological).  Nevertheless, this is a great opportunity to apply what we’ve learned in the past, continue to manage for the resource, and benefit our users for years to come.  

Pool 1:  

The purpose of Pool 1 has evolved over the years as limitations and opportunities have been realized.  It was initially managed as a greentree reservoir, but due to the seasonal precipitation pattern of the region, it was quickly turned into a water reservoir.  The stored water is used to flood Pools 2 and 3 for waterfowl hunting.  Because of the permanently flooded conditions in Pool 1 a tremendous fishery developed.  Over the years it has been a balancing act to maintain a minimum pool level for the fisheries, while still having enough water to flood Pools 2 and 3.  The timing of when we receive water and when we distribute it to the other pools will not change, however, our renovated water delivery system (Ditch 111, and series of structures between the Cato Levee and Pool 1) should increase our efficiency to store an adequate water supply for multiple uses during most years.  With this in mind, the summer of 2010 was the third driest since 1950 and should be considered the extreme event and not the norm.

Pools 2 and 3: 

Drilling wells for Pools 2 and 3 has been discussed at length for many years. It would relieve us from relying on Pool 1 as a water source.  The price of installation of multiple wells (at least 6) along with the long term costs of operation and maintenance of these wells is a definite concern.  Depletion of the aquifer by over-utilization of wells is also a point of contention with this approach and has been experienced in areas not far from here. Also, there is a lot of uncertainty about the long term health effects to trees that are flooded with mineral laden water.

 In the past 10 years, we have really progressed with our understanding and management of bottomland hardwood timber as we’ve focused on recruitment requirements and the flood tolerance of different species.  Flood timing and duration can negatively affect the species composition and can ultimately destroy the very resources that make these habitats attractive to waterfowl and great for hunting.  Allowing for variability in flood timing among years will allow these wetlands to function more naturally and will benefit the long-term timber health.  The existing water system (Ditch 111 and Pool 1) is adequate to do this without the extra expense and concerns that come along with wells.

Unit A and B: 

Unit A and Unit B is our moist soil habitat, which is used by early migrating waterfowl and provides our best hunting opportunity early in the season.  In our renovation plans we are utilizing two new wells, the existing wells, and incorporating water from the surrounding watershed to flood habitat early in the fall when water is limited.  By reconfiguring the size and location of levees and using the impoundment’s topography we will be making the most of our flooded habitat.  Not only will this allow us to extend the amount of habitat and hunting opportunities within Unit A and B, but it will also decrease the amount of maintenance and repair needed over time.  During the course of waterfowl season, resources and habitat needs change for waterfowl.  Later in the season is when the timber becomes more important and will provide waterfowl resources and hunting opportunity at Duck Creek. 

I hope this helps explains some of the challenges and how we are trying to make the most of what we have in terms of finances and infrastructural limitations.  Our team is very excited and passionate about the area and are looking forward to this summer’s work.  I hope you are too.  Thank you for your interest.   



Ever since we opened pool 1 to hunting the surrounding blinds in pools 2 and 3 have not done as well. Why not leave it as it was intened to be a refuge for the Ducks. The ducks would rest and loaf in the Pool 1 area and then venture out into Pools 2 and 3 to feed. Just look what happens in the North end. The Ducks are going to need more area to rest this year or the pressure will drive them out. I I hunted Pools 2 and 3 when Pool 1 was closed and I know I did much better thunting those blinds pre pool 1 opening. Even the mangers I have talked with over the years say the same thing. It is sad to see the way this have been managed. Please show me the statistics that would justify leaving it open to hunting 4 days/ week.

maybe the creek's waterfowl hunt program should be tweeked a little this year for obvious reasons. if there is ground that could be used for hunting then use it. unless the creek is going to be like ten mile where they hunt 13 spots on a 3700 acre area. the more opportunity for us means less heat on the mdc. i grew up hunting the creek and i am excited about the work, just tired of not having the creek as an option to hunt

Thank you very much...

What are the plans as of now for the blinds in A unit?

I hope you are friends and I have all decided to quit hunting because of your ridiculous mismanagement of our tax dollars....we all hope you go broke.

Please advertise the southeast region meetings on the 2011-2012 waterfowl seasons.

It is far too early to determine a detailed outlook for the hunting positions available for the 2011 duck season at Duck Creek CA.  At this point, a couple of things are for sure.   If all continues to go as planned we will not be hunting any of Units A and B next year.  Provided that we get rain at some point this spring, and assuming that the construction up on the Cato Levee is completed, we will have the water to recharge Pool 1.  If this is the case, then we will likely push to have some water in Pool 2 or 3 at the start of the season, however positions will still be limited.  Barring a major rain event in October, we will not open the season with either pool bank full of water.   Long story short, we will put any available water on the trees next year, but we are not going to completely abandon the management strategies that we have established over the past several years and flood everything in October.  We continually explore new waterfowl hunting opportunities that we can offer at Duck Creek, especially in some of the outlying fields.  However, those fields are not in the waterfowl hunt program for various reasons the most obvious of them being that they are not very good habitat for waterfowl in their current condition.  We are hopeful that future phases of the Duck Creek Renovation will allow us to address some of these fields and improve their attractiveness to waterfowl.  For now, we will see what spring, summer, and fall throw our way and continue to update you on the blog.  The reduced opportunity that next year likely brings will be tough to take.  Although, I rest assured that the improvements that are being made to the area during this time will overshadow this in years to come!  Thanks for everyone’s comments and we appreciate your interest in Duck Creek.

I understand your frustration about adding pumps to provide more habitat and hunting opportunity.  No doubt, it seems like the simplest and easiest solution. We should be able to put wells in where ever we are short of water.  However, the reality is that there are ecological and economical trade-offs to any decision we make.  In Unit A we are working with our existing pumps and reconfiguring the levees to be able to move water more interdependently, therefore more efficiently, among pools.  Additionally, we are planning on adding two pumps to the west side of Unit B to extend the amount of flooded ground west of Unit A. This has been talked about for years. We’re really excited about this and hope you will be too. The primary objective will be to manage moist soil to provide habitat to early season migrants and waterfowl hunting opportunity.  This will extend the core area that waterfowl use early during the waterfowl season.  As for the trees in L and I woods, you are correct, those trees have been “wet” for years.  Actually, the fact that those trees are still there is an indication of a perennially wet location.  Most of the existing blocks of timber in the Bootheel are located in low drainages or sinks that were too wet to be cleared and farmed.  L and I woods is such place, as it runs along an old slough fragment.  The species composition is made up of more flood tolerant species and does not include healthy pin oaks.  We have conceded that pin oaks and their recruitment within this 25 acre block shouldn’t dictate the management of the surrounding 80 acres of moist soil habitat.   In the past two years we’ve written a couple posts describing the flood tolerances of different species and what we are doing to try to manage these communities in Pools 2 and 3. Assessing tree health is a little more involved than just looking to see if there are standing trees.  Yellowing leaves, canopy thinning, and swelling at the base of the tree trunk are subtle indicators of stress in red oaks due to prolonged flooding during the growing season.  Recruitment of the oaks in the understory is a chronic problem in green tree reservoirs throughout the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.  Varying the timing of flooding annually is one way we can reduce the stress, and increase the vigor and recruitment of the red oaks in Pool 2 and 3.  As far as Pool 1 goes, over the years we’ve invested a lot of time and money on this pool, which as you know, has multiple public uses.  By and large this has worked for us during most years even though it is a continual balancing act.  By replacing the worn out structures and cleaning the ditch, we should be able to continue to use this system as we have done for the past 60 years.  It just so happens that we are have also experienced a record drought.  During most years we should have enough water for the fish as well as the waterfowl.  Unfortunately, this past year wasn’t your typical year. With this post and others I’ve tried to explain the pluses and minuses and how we are trying to make the most out of the resources we have, both ecologically and economically.  I hope this has clarified some of your questions and concerns.  I know our forecast for next year isn’t good, but I believe that these renovations will benefit Duck Creek and its public use in the long run.  Thanks again for your interest and passion for the area. I think we can both agree that Duck Creek is a special place.

what are the odds of opening the fields off of Co. Rd's 716 and 718? i have seen birds in the 718 field on several occasions. i don't know much about the field at the end of 716. just exploring possible hunting opportunities too offset the loss of units a and b for the 2011 season.

Have you took into consideration that the L and I woods in the Unit A have been flooded for years upon years with mineral laden water from a pump? I don't understand why these, very alive trees, would be so different than the trees in Pool 2 and 3. Good luck convincing me with one of your answers. I don't think there is a reasonable one for this. What if Pool 1 was still used to flood the woods but have a couple pumps to help with this process, especially in dry years. The combination of this practice makes more sense to me and would be less expensive to manage. Don't you agree?


Over the past few years positions in Pools 2&3 were not opened for hunting until Thanksgiving weekend. If units A&B are going to be closed for renovation,then i guess this means that we're in for a 35 or 40 day duck season at Duck Creek. How about sinking some wells over on the Dark Cypress area and providing more hunting opportunity. MDC has the funds. So many hunters so little opportunity !!!!!

Ooops....if you posted a comment/question to this article on Feb. 1-2 and you do not see it below, please resubmit it.  I'll post it and get back to you if I can.  Thanks.

Barring any future developments, during the fall of 2011 we will continue to hunt Pool 1 (4 days/week, on weekends, Tuesdays and Wednesdays).  As far as how many birds we will hold, I can’t say. When and how many birds show up at Duck Creek varies so much from year to year because of weather and habitat conditions (regionally and locally).  I would suspect early in the season we may have less bird use because we’ll have less moist soil habitat.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Will there be positions on pool 1 and will duck creek probably hold less birds this upcomming year?

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