Duck Hunting - North Zone Opener

Discussion in 'Missouri Flyway Forum' started by Mack Molloy, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. Mack Molloy

    Mack Molloy Elite Refuge Member

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    MDC changed opening day in the North Zone from the last Saturday (before Halloween) in October to the first Saturday in November. We argued that this would not be good for shallow water wetland areas. Recently, @sgt duck reviewed our Gill's Camp harvest log and here are some harvest numbers that back this up.

    1997-2016 (60 Day Duck Seasons)
    Ducks Harvested First Week = 1375
    Mallards Harvested First Week = 593 (43%)

    Ducks Harvested Last Week = 270
    Mallards Harvested Last Week = 241 (89%)

    As you can see we harvested 1105 (80%) more ducks the first week versus the last week over a 20 year period. While weather conditions vary from year to year, this data appears to be consistent.

    During this time period, there were 3 years no ducks were harvested the last week and 7 years harvest range from 1 duck to 9. Under best circumstances, we harvested 68 ducks the last week of the season in 1998...which was a record harvest year with mild weather throughout the season.

    We hope MDC will move the season opener back and even though we might be swatting mosquitos, the opportunity to harvest ducks is definitely worth it.

    It would be interesting to hear what others have experienced.

    Mack
     
  2. hunting1

    hunting1 Senior Refuge Member

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    I don't keep very good records and I know results will vary but in the last 20 years I don't remember but one year that we were able to hunt up until it closed because marshes were froze up. We only began hunting the Mo river recently and even then with a good freeze up ice floes in the river have deterred us. Just seems for the average year that the new dates likely will shorten the season
     
  3. WuChang

    WuChang Elite Refuge Member

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    the world is home to the Wu Chang Clan
    Mack
    I haven't sat down and checked on a calendar but if OCT 31 was on a Friday then that would mean ....what... 6 days?

    Perhaps a better comparison would be the counts before Nov 1 (October 25-OCT 31) and 6 days after ( Nov 1-7).

    The MDC site with the last 2 seasons data says it is down but it would be interesting if Bob Brown,Fountain Grove, Grand Pass,BK Leach and Ted Shanks data (all are in the North Zone) is similar to your data for those 2 seasons/dates.

    Wonder if there would be a difference to the 'southern WMA's' in the North Zone compared to the more northern
    I would almost bet money that there will be a difference between the Mississippi WMA's in the North Zone and the 'Missouri River WMA's' with the western ones having better numbers.

    I don't know if our 5 year log is available since the club is under water--don't know if they took the log book with them when they got the stuff out of the cabin.
     
  4. Drakes Landing

    Drakes Landing Senior Refuge Member Supporting Member

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    Couple of things and yes I’m a proponent of the current framework. I think kill data is often skewed by # of hunters and types of ducks harvested. Openers likely have 2 to 3 times more hunters present than late season hunts (=more total ducks in the bag). In addition there are likely many 6 bird limits with a majority early season birds like teal, wood ducks etc. I’m certainly not suggesting there is anything wrong with that only that average harvest is higher due to the presence of the early birds and more hunters hunting (=more 6 bird limits). The benefit IMO of the later season hunts is they consistently produce mallard bag limits (=4 birds) + you have more opportunities for mixed bags of honkers and mallards (and the occasional Speck) and it typically relieves some of the pressure on the remaining birds and makes hunting and harvesting more big ducks easier (not without work). Weather clearly dictates and year in and year out the bulk of the early bird migration starts end of October. The bulk of the mallard migration starts around Veterans Day and slows after 12/10.......the beauty is warmups periodically grace us a few times during that late period and it can and does produce some spectacular hunts. One other consideration should be having a youth hunt at least 2 weeks (preferably 3 weeks) prior to the opener on first Sat in November.......early migrants are much more pressure sensitive and its my opinion that those birds get driven out before the opener. This will probably really be contrary to many but don’t have a youth hunt at all......let the kids hunt during the regular season dates. Dads can put down there guns and coach and mentor youth just the same! I have personally seen and heard verbatim from dads that their 3 boys shot about 4 boxes of shells EACH and harvested an average of 4 birds. 300 rounds blazing in one public duck park pool. Just mot sure that is the intent of the youth season and undoubtedly educates and/or runs offamy of those early migrants.

    Ultimately we will all press our agendas and data/results will be what they are but just have to soak it all in and decide which way you lean. As I have said many times before 1 week earlier or later really won’t make or break any of us and if it comes down to only how many birds we harvest I think we may be missing the beauty of waterfowling and the many seasons within a season that we are blessed with each and every year. The “war” and debate about season frameworks, bag limits and boundary lines will carry on. In the meantime just enjoy and appreciate the 60 day/6 bird frameworks we have been given for many years now (not too mention the Snow Goose Conservation Season we have had for the past 20 years). I think we have all been spoiled

    Good luck this coming Fall season!!!!
     
    TooTall likes this.
  5. hunting1

    hunting1 Senior Refuge Member

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    Well said DL!
     
  6. Midwest Duck Hunter

    Midwest Duck Hunter New Member

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    Wu, Grand Pass is in the middle zone. Starts a week later and closed for the deer season split. I hunted there the first day after the reopen last year. I have never in my life had that kind of a hunt. And I was thinking how many good days of hunting were missed by the split being placed in prime migration time.
    I made my point about MDC making their decisions about duck season dates and boundries, with deer tag sales in mind, a few weeks ago. I was soundly thrashed by what appeared to be people who have private land or leases that can be hunted later in the season after all the public hunting is freezing up. I hunt both private and public areas. My thoughts are that MDC should set the season and zones so that the people in those areas have the best opportunity to be successful. If the most people want to get out earlier in the season, then that should be when the season is open. More days hunting during historically good migration days means more successful hunters. Isn't that what a public organization like MDC should be trying to accomplish? I don't believe January duck hunting north of the river is giving the most people the best chances at being successful. That's where MDC has failed with the new zone lines in my area.
     
  7. Cliner

    Cliner Elite Refuge Member

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    I love the north zone dates the way they are (not the middle zone split, that's ridiculous timing for that). I'd gladly take my chances at hunting ice for concentrated bunches of mallards over swatting mosquitoes for some shoveler and wood ducks. Not everyone hunts a shallow water marsh, some hunt irrigation lakes, some hunt rivers, some hunt reservoirs, some hunt dry fields. Just because it's not your way of hunting, it doesn't mean it's wrong. I hunt my shallow water field very consistently through mid-December usually. After that, it's nice to get a change of scenery and go hunt the MO river. I'm not a dry field hunter but like Dave mentioned, there's a chance to get a combo hunt of geese/specks/ducks. We shot a good bit of specks last year while duck hunting. We still had a pile of ducks using our rest area in mid-late January.

    My solution to the problem is to put the north zone back where it was (last saturday before Halloween) but have a "Missouri River Zone". This Missouri River Zone would encompass the Missouri river and the fields directly bordering it. Nothing more, nothing less. Open that up the same time the South Zone opens and run it through the end of the season. Then, we all get the best of both worlds. Shallow water hunters get the extra early week and big water hunters get the extra days late.
     
    sgt duck, WHUP ! Hen and hunting1 like this.
  8. WHUP ! Hen

    WHUP ! Hen Elite Refuge Member

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    I am more than likely the northern most Missouri hunter. From our property we can see Iowa and Illinois. I have kept records for the past 19 years. Our hard water date has averaged December 6. The longest we have hunted has been December 21. We are hunting our WRP Project with a max depth of 28 inches. My Grandson has had enough of ice so this year he dug a 6 foot hole in our best spot and are going to use an ice eater, we should have done this years ago. Young people have a way of poking we seniors. I think the season change will shorten our already short season. My Grandson and Son have their best hunts in dry cornfields, I’m too old for that kind of hunting, I let them have fun by themselves.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
    double limit and hunting1 like this.
  9. Mack Molloy

    Mack Molloy Elite Refuge Member

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    One of the interesting suggestions was to have a late season split...start the season in October and close around Christmas. Then open back up after Jan 1st sometime. @Drakes Landing you are correct...everyone is always pushing their agenda, that is what we are gearing up for. I remember talking with some hunters from Dalton Cutoff during the MDC meetings and they had no idea what happened anywhere but their local area. The North Zone has a lot of variety of hunting opportunities and it is a challenge to please everyone.

    Great discussion, enjoy hearing everyone's viewpoint.
     
    hunting1 likes this.
  10. Drakes Landing

    Drakes Landing Senior Refuge Member Supporting Member

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    I like where your head is at Cliner. Just one update to your Missouri River Zone...........extend from Missouri River East to Highway 71'ish! I think that framework would truly be best of both IMO.

    BTW.............would it be doable to create two 60 day season frameworks for each zone and let waterfowl hunters choose their dates. For example:

    Northern Zone:
    Season 1: Open Last Saturday October and run for 60 days
    Season 2: Open First Week November and run for 60 days

    You get to choose one or the other. I think if you are caught hunting out of your designated Season framework you should be fined $1,000.00 ..............that will deter and reduce those attempting to abuse. The value in this is it would spread out the hunting pressure. Less pressure the first week for the Season 1 guys and less pressure the last week for the Season 2 guys. No youth season.......they hunt during the Season 1 or Season 2 framework.

    This obviously extends the "season" for those managing the duck parks by 1 week (essentially they have to cover a 67 vs. 60 day hunting period). That may be the rub as that means more manpower and expense.

    Just a thought.

    Good luck.
     

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