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Declining # of Waterfowl Hunters

Discussion in 'Chesapeake Flyway Forum' started by Duckin' Lost, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. Montauker

    Montauker Elite Refuge Member

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    So I am clear, I'm not advocating pursuing either challenge.

    We are a funny bunch, we all want that fine line between enough refuge for birds to eat and be merry, but not so much that we can't whack'em on a routine basis.
    :rolleyes:

    We also want new hunters, just not in our marsh
     
  2. Rudder

    Rudder Senior Refuge Member

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    Maryland
    Like eye say, lots of factors to consider. If you look at waterfowl harvest trends on Flyways.us, some patterns look pretty clear to me. As far as mallards go, there is no doubt a corn impoundment can round them up. Marylands harvest has stayed pretty consistant the last 40 years even with season lengths and limits doubling in the early 90's. Harvest has been sliding the last 10 years, which is mirrored in the whole Atlantic flyway. New York and PA have remained pretty consistant through the years, so that doesn't really support the short stop thing. Virginia and North Carolina have trended up, but not out of line with the increase in season lengths and daily bag limits. So maybe this means Maryland still has the same number of mallards as always, but a larger percent of them are being killed in impoundments. I can buy that.
     
  3. Rudder

    Rudder Senior Refuge Member

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    The thing I see is that the ducks most public land hunters are not shooting now, that they say they were shooting in the time before impoundments went crazy, were probably teal, widgeons, gadwalls,...marsh ducks. Maryland harvest numbers on those birds have definitely trended down. But if you look at NC, SC, and VA (to a lesser degree) their harvest of these species have gone through the roof. Maybe Maryland impoundments didn't steal all the marsh ducks... maybe our southern neighbors did! And by the way, they are full of impoundments too! Who knows!!
     
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  4. carolina girl

    carolina girl Elite Refuge Member

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    ....is that wrong?
     
  5. joecitrano

    joecitrano Senior Refuge Member

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    And I'm sure being as corn is present on stalks no corn ever is accidently spilled in impoundments right? I mean uh yeah by accident wink wink nudge nudge
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  6. Scotty

    Scotty Elite Refuge Member

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    Good point- but I've seen teal, spoonies and gadwalls dump into corn impounds that normally would have hung out in the marsh.
    Not saying it's a bad thing, but again it all goes back to access. Those who have access to these places, kill those ducks also.
     
  7. carolina girl

    carolina girl Elite Refuge Member

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    Impoundments for commercial use, imo, is no different than market gunning.
     
  8. MDcanvasback

    MDcanvasback Elite Refuge Member

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    Eastern Shore, MD
    Lack of Birds, Money, Time, Access

    The lack of birds (especially geese) during the last few seasons has made people change. More than ever people aren't targeting geese on Delmarva or if they are its on the water with a duck spread as well. I have seen/heard more people "sticking it out" waiting on birds to fly/move, low harvest numbers, and letting farms "sit" to hopefully increase numbers of birds. I can personally say that I hunted in a field goose rig twice in the last two seasons, both were marginally successful and I spent the rest of my time on the water.

    Lack of birds is driving up lease prices. Most weekend hunters cant afford more than one lease with a group of buddies anymore, where in past a group would have 6-12 spots for free, family relation, trading, working on the farm for permission, etc. Now with the lack of birds, people cannot justify these crazy prices.

    In this economy hunting is a luxury, and with horrible seasons many are either throwing the towel in or doubling down (paying a higher lease fee, getting a shallow water/mud motor rig, sea duck rig, etc.)

    Time, peoples time off is extremely valuable to them and when these days off are "wasted" due to lack of birds, too much competition, etc. people get tired of it and find another hobby or with the younger generations they don't even bother. I can understand why the younger generation has a lack of interest in this day and age because even veteran ol timers and guys my age are losing interest. These youngsters are being shown the hard work and effort that is needed, but they aren't seeing the successes that we did in our youth that hooked us.

    Access, lets just come out and say it: Maryland's access to hunt is subpar to say the least. In Maryland, hunters and fisherman aren't valued like they are in other states. Especially on the Eastern Shore. Public access to waterfowl hunting is the main driver for most states waterfowlers, and it is the exact opposite here.

    Along with access is private ground that has been modified such as impoundments, sanctuaries, etc. These properties have changed the way the wildlife acts in the areas. I used to guide in the Quakerneck area and explaining to clients that the cloud of birds they would see at first light aren't the birds we were after was difficult at times. More and more private properties are being setup to host wildlife, so less numbers are being seen at previous hot spots all the way down to low value areas. Impoundments have drastically modified the duck patterns in my hunting areas, and we just have to deal with the patterns and move forward.

    Its sad to say but the next generation will not have the same fire/addiction for waterfowling as mine and previous generations do. I just hope that I can pass it on to my children, family, and friends.

    I am proof of this trend, in previous years I would spend every moment I had in a layout, pit, field a frame, or water blind. Now unless I am guiding, get to work my lab, or have thoroughly scouted and found birds. I am spending more time in a tree or saving my time/money to hunt out west.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
  9. hutty

    hutty Elite Refuge Member

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    I think an interesting take away for the story is:
    General hunting license sales have stayed constant or even slightly increased in the US
    The amount of waterfowl hunting licenses /stamps have decreased
    Ducks numbers have done well and most species are at or are well above their long term trend
    So we have high numbers of ducks and decreasing numbers of duck hunters

    Duck hunting:
    Isn't easy, nor cheap
    Its hard for a new person to pick up and start waterfowl hunting
    Regulations, especially for a new hunter can be confusing
    Private access is hard and expensive, public land opportunities (in Maryland are not good)
    Duck season when compared to deer season is way shorter
    Duck hunting is weather dependent more than most animals we hunt
    Weather patterns have definitely changed the migration times and routes
    Habitat- there is a lot of habitat for ducks

    Those are a lot of factors working against recruiting and keeping people involved in duck hunting.
     
  10. Scotty

    Scotty Elite Refuge Member

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    I don't agree that md has bad public access- go ahead and go to Missouri and tell me how easy it is to be a public land hunter there-
    Or even Delaware- spend everyday at a lottery and tell me how bad Maryland public waterfowl hunting is.

    We are pretty darn blessed to have as much public hunting as we do.

    But, the factors in play that are causing those places to lose ducks are what is in my mind more of a problem than the available public hunting in this state-

    What I see is high lease prices, pushing more and more
    People to public, causing overcrowding. That's how I view the access issue. It's not a lack of available land, it's a disdain for the crap you have to deal with.

    Especially from the younger entitled crowd-
     

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