September’s teal season came to an end last weekend, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason to get out and explore Duck Creek.
Personally, I love the fall. The summer heat begins to break and you can feel fall’s coolness settling in. The critters can feel it too. Swallows are swarming over the sedges and smartweed, knocking off bugs right and left. Rails can be heard and occasionally flushed from the underbrush for a brief sporadic flight. Snipe and other shorebirds pick and probe at the saturated mudflats. Small flights of teal zip from one spot to the next. In the coming weeks the fall aerial passage will continue and we’ll begin to pick up other early fall migrants like, pintail and shovelers as the regular waterfowl season inches near.
By reconfiguring Units A and B we have created new opportunities both for critters and people. Restoring sloughs and working with the fall of the land has created a mix of wetland communities. Most of the sloughs have stayed flooded through the summer and have different kinds of plants than what is growing on the flats. Additionally, these channels let us divert water to and through the pools. Previously, we didn’t have this capability. Certain areas could not be flooded without swamping other locations too deep and putting good food out of reach of hungry ducks.
This September in Unit A we flooded the distribution channel and pool 14. We also used the new well in Unit B to flood portions of 55, 54, and 53. This has provided early fall habitat for migrating birds and new hunting opportunities during teal season. Other pools have remained dry except for the meanders, to save the resources for the rest of the fall flight.
With activity in the air and water wandering around, there is much to do and see.
There is still time and opportunity to hone your shooting skills prior to the waterfowl opener. Rail season extends till October 15th on Duck Creek and the daily bag and possession limit is 25 birds. You can take a leisurely walk through the marsh, get some shots in, and cook up a little snack later that evening.
If that sounds like too much work, perhaps a solitary float up and down a winding slough is more your speed. The distribution channel on the south side of Unit A has the easiest access. Put in your canoe or kayak and paddle till your heart is content. It is a good opportunity to see the great moist soil plant production that will be made available in the coming months.
However, that’s not all. In the next few weeks you can also fish, train your dog, archery hunt deer, and take advantage of the fall turkey season. The fall turkey hunting is allowed from October 1-14 across the area and requires the use of non-toxic shot. Archery deer hunting is also available area wide until October 15th when Units A and B and the waterfowl refuges become off limits. When the clock strikes midnight on October 14th dog training and fishing will also close for the season.
So as summer slips to fall and the aerial activity begins to increase, feel free to come out experience the renovated marsh before it gets too close to the big opener in November. That is what it is here for and you are welcome to it.