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Picturesque Paddling

Oct 02, 2015

Being outside and observing nature has a way of recharging my batteries. I couldn't tell you if it is the fresh air, the chorus of life resulting from the birds, bugs, and frogs, or just the open space that is good for my soul. Whatever the reason, I'm typically always open for an excuse to go outside and explore. If you find yourself in the same boat and are looking for something to do, I might have an option for you.

This time of year, right after teal season and before the regular waterfowl season, is a great time to explore Missouri's wetlands either by yourself or with a family member or friend. The weather can't be beat and it is exciting to see birds start trickling back through our state as they start their seasonal flights south.

Clean off the Canoe

Sure, you can drive along the exterior roads and levees and glass the interior of the marsh with your binoculars to look for areas of avian activity. But, I've got a more immersive option for you to consider. Do you have a boat that you use for other recreational activities like floating the river, fishing the lake, or duck hunting in the marsh? A shallow drafted vessel is best for this kind of adventure, and there are a slew of canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards out there that are suitable to use and access the shallowly flooded habitats available during early fall migration.

Birding by Boat

Paddling quietly up an old slough or along the grassy edges of a shallowly flooded wetland is a great way to experience nature and get closer to wildlife. Any day in the marsh, as Forrest Gump might remark, is likea box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. Some of my experiences have included days where it has just been me and a thousand dragonflys darting back and forth above the still waters. Other days, I've been met with the comical cackling calls of sora rails as they darted in and out of the vegetation in search for seeds. Still other days I've been greeted with the squeaks and whistles of several hundred pintail roosting and foraging in the shallow flats nearby. These unique and variable experiences mirror the distinctiveness and complexity of the habitat itself and are overlooked or unknown opportunities that could be enjoyed this time of year.

Connection with Nature

All it takes is a few hours of your time, a watercraft, and the desire to explore. Going solo or recruiting the kids to unplug from a screen for a while can be a worthwhile venture. There is a quote from an unknown author that I think sums up an activity like this nicely, "There is no wifi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection".

Good luck, I hope you take the suggestion and enjoy some time on the water over the next couple of weeks. The window closes for this kind of excursion on October 15th, in which, these habitats become waterfowl refuge on our Conservation Areas in preparation of the upcoming waterfowl season.


Birding By Boat
Birding By Boat
A great time of year to view wetland wildlife by boat is at the end of September and beginning of October.


Enjoying the Outdoors
Enjoying the Outdoors
Time outdoors and on the water can be a relaxing and rewarding activity to do with family and friends.


As fall approaches the first flights of early migratory waterfowl often include flocks of northern pintail.


5 waterfowl reservations were issued for Duck Creek for opening weekend, November 7-8. Units A and B are currently being flooded. There are signs of new ducks on the area. Numbers increased significantly October 15-16. The eastern portion of Unit B is baited. No deer or turkey hunting is allowed. It became this way when we placed bait in the area. 52, 54, and 55 will be ready to hunt for waterfowl season and will not be influenced by the baited area. 53 will not be hunted until conditions allow, for there is no water source to flood this pool. 53 is part of the active contract area and no boards will be put in place to hold rain water until the contractors are finished working in this area. If conditions allow flooding of 53, bait will be completely removed and the area will be included in the morning draw 10 days after removal of the bait.

Is area 53 still considered a "Baited" area? Can you tell us how it became that way? Will it be ready for waterfowl season?

Can you tell us how many reservations were given out for opening day of duck season at duck creek? Is A and B unit being flooded any time soon? Any signs of new ducks in the area?

Great point Matt, thanks.  There are a variety of ways to enjoy the outdoors and explore these areas.  This is definitely a beautiful time of year to be out and about.  Thanks for the suggestion. 

Frank, I spent some time on Kentucky slough last week, great paddle! Don't forget about pedaling your bike around too! My family and I spent 6 hours riding around Duck Creek and Mingo yesterday! Beautiful day. Duck Creek looks great.

Here is where to go to find your answers. On the right side of the page is a box entitled “Regs and Areas”.  Click on “Conservation Areas” and type in “Duck Creek”. From there all of your questions can be answered by clicking on “Area Regulations”,  which can be found in the “Area Resource” box on the left side of the page.  For several of these activities you’ve inquired about the last day to partake is October 14th because the regulation states from October 15 through the end of waterfowl hunting season. 

Was busy looking for the closure time on fishing at Duck Creek. Is that sunset October 14th or sunset October 15th. Is squirrel hunting still open after the 15th? What about Turkey Hunting???

We’ll have to wait and see how the contract progresses. If you remember from past contract work in Units A and B, along with Greenbrier, these areas were not used until the following year.  If and when the locations are open for use, we’ll let you know. 

Hey Keith will the new footbridge for B Unit area 53 be ready for this years waterfowl season? The work in C Pool looks like it is coming along nicely. Any chance it will be ready to hunt this year?

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