Ducks in the news

Discussion in 'Kansas Flyway Forum' started by duxngolf, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    1. I propose a sticky for news articles concerning duck or goose hunting news. Any thoughts?

    2. Here's a recent article by Michael Pearce in the Eagle.

    Fall duck season is likely to be 74 days
    The Wichita Eagle

    This fall's duck season dates and limits are expected to be about the same as last year. Summer duck populations are high enough to allow a full 74-day season in the Kansas low plains units.

    Faye McNew, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks migratory gamebird coordinator, recently got the news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Kansas has had 74-day seasons since 1995. Lower populations could have resulted in a season of 39 or 60 days.

    "Populations have declined some from last year but they were still good enough to warrant the liberal season," she said.

    "The problem is that production is expected to be fairly poor this year. We'll probably see that impact our season lengths within the next year or two if habitat conditions don't improve."

    Ongoing drought and grasslands being converted to crop fields are hurting nesting habitat in much of the U.S. and Canada.

    Fish and Wildlife officials informed McNew that Kansas could continue its "hunter's choice" project.

    Kansas is one of five central flyway states that allow up to five ducks per day, and leave all species open through the entire season.

    The other five states have a six-bird limit, but hunters can only shoot pintails and canvasbacks during about the first half of the season.

    Biologists want to find out how the different options influence overall harvests.

    McNew said the research project is the main reason canvasbacks can be shot in the central flyway.

    They'll have no open season in the Pacific, Mississippi or Atlantic flyways because of reduced populations.

    She said the continental canvasback population is down about 44 percent from last year, which was below the long-term average.

    Pintail numbers are about 22 percent below last year's numbers.

    Populations of mallards, teal and most other popular puddle ducks are near or only slightly below last year's numbers. Many are still above long-term averages.

    McNew said the upcoming season will probably allow Kansas hunters to kill, within their five ducks, up to two scaup, two redheads, two wood ducks and no more than one from a group that is comprised of pintails, hen mallards, canvasbacks and mottled ducks.

    Hunters will again be able to kill five mallards.

    She predicted a season framework similar to last fall, which included a late October opening and an early January closing.

    The season will probably open again for nine days in late January.

    Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks commissioners will vote on season dates and limits at an Aug. 14 meeting in Hoisington.
  2. KSnatvie

    KSnatvie Senior Refuge Member

    Jan 9, 2007
    I agree. I would like to see a sticky where we can post articles on ducks and duck hunting.

    Moderators can you set this up for us?
  3. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    From the CapJournal:

    These dogs will hunt
    Get out early with veteran dogs, pups

    By Marc Murrell
    The Capital-Journal
    Published Sunday, August 31, 2008

    The waterfowl season is just around the corner. Rabid duck hunters have Sept. 13 circled three times on their calendar, waiting for the first day of the early teal season in much of Kansas. Although the first hunt is still a few weeks away, it's never too early to start getting your gear ready. This might be especially true of your fondest hunting companion ? your retriever.

    Unfortunately, too many waterfowlers wait until opening day to train or work their dog. This often leads to high blood pressure and an unpleasant experience for man, dog and anyone else within ear shot. You wouldn't expect to go out and run a 10K race without any prior preparation or guidance, and you shouldn't expect the same of your dog on opening day.

    Getting a dog into shape for the season should be done well in advance. If you haven't started, put this paper down after you're finished reading and go out and start today. To keep matters simple, let's assume you're working with a trained retriever and all ol' Rover needs is a good workout and a little brushing up.

    "Conditioning is the biggest factor," said professional retriever trainer Tom Masella. "I've been taking dogs for long walks and getting them into shape."

    Don't take your dog out in the middle of the day or work them for long periods of time. Early morning or late evening is best to work dogs, especially during bouts of extreme heat. Begin slowly and remember that dogs can have heart attacks or suffer from heat stroke just like people. Be sure to take plenty of water along and offer it occasionally.

    "Initially, I wouldn't advise more than 10 or 15 minutes for each session,"Masella said.

    "Of course, I try to throw marks for them every day, too," Masella said. "It not only builds conditioning, it builds their marking skills as well. In the evening I'll throw a half-dozen to a dozen bumpers and start them out short and then stretch them out."

    Going back to school is also good advice for owners who want their dogs to mind before, especially during, and after the hunt. In all training sessions, it's important to reinforce all of the basic commands including sit, stay and here. It may seem repetitive, but without these commands everything else is irrelevant.

    Handling drills, if your dog has been trained to take hand and whistle signals, are also important to reinforce. Simple games of bumper baseball and blind retrieves in various terrains will etch those commands into a dog's brain. The goal is for the dog to transfer, and remember what he's learned, into the field during practical hunting situations.

    Other considerations include the dog's health and overall well being. Now is the time to take the dog to the vet to make sure they're up-to-date on their rabies and other routine vaccinations. Skunks are prevalent at many wetlands and retrievers often have close encounters with one of the main carriers of rabies in Kansas.

    "We were sprayed twice last year," Masella said of his retriever's encounters with the black-and-white striped beasts. "It happened one time at Marion Reservoir and another time at Cheyenne Bottoms. You do run the risk of the skunk biting the dog, too."

    It's not likely the dog will contract the disease, but it's not worth the risk of taking a dog to the field without proper immunizations and it's money well spent.

    As the dog begins to use more calories with exercise and hunting, owners should be aware of their dog's need for increased nutrition.

    "With the increase in exercise you're giving them now, you should also be giving them a higher quality dog food," Masella said. "During the summer most owners are feeding just a maintenance-type dog food, but now is when you're going to want higher protein and higher fat found in higher quality food."

    Masella said this is especially true for hunters who work their dogs every day or every other day both now and through the season.

    "Without a good, quality dog food they're just going to be real lethargic," Masella said. "I can really see a difference in performance with better dog food."

    Veteran dogs won't be the only ones preparing for this year's seasons. Owners of new puppies last spring will likely be taking their hopeful hunting companion along on a few hunts as the seasons get underway. Masella is quick to point out that owners of young dogs should have a bit of patience during a retriever's first year.

    "What I'm telling everybody is when you're bringing a new dog out just stake them out," Masella said. "Don't worry about the steadiness issue until you have a seasoned dog. The big thing I look out for is vocalizing. If the dog starts to whine or bark that's the only thing I'll correct, along with the "here" command."

    So whether you own a grizzled, gray-faced old veteran of many waterfowl trips, or a young, playful puppy with enough energy for three dogs, remember to keep the training sessions fun and relaxed. Spend as much time as you can with your dog and let him know he is appreciated by always heaping praise when deserved. The rewards will come when that first duck of the season is delivered to hand.
  4. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    Cold front triggered teal migration in time for Missouri opener

    Hunters will be in the field for the Missouri teal opener on Saturday. A cold front that cut across the middle of the country this week has triggered the blue-winged teal migration. And that has sent flocks of ducks into Missouri at the perfect time ? right before Saturday?s opening of teal season.

    ?We went from basically zero teal to 1,200 in two days,? said Chris Daniel, manager at the Four Rivers Conservation Area near Rich Hill, Mo. ?I?d say we?re looking at a good opener ? and I wouldn?t have said that a few days ago.?

    At the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge near Mound City, Mo., more than 2,000 teal are using the shallow-water marshes. Hunting isn?t allowed on the refuge, but those birds go by private duck clubs nearby.

    ?Good water conditions are attracting teal to the Bob Brown and Nodaway Valley conservation areas.

    ?Managers are pumping water into marshes at the Grand Pass Conservation Area on the Missouri River to compensate for dry conditions and 200 teal are using the area.

    ?There is no water at Fountain Grove near Meadville, Mo., and the area is closed to teal hunting, however that could change if the heavy rain this week results in flooding. Officials advise calling the area at 660-938-4124 before planning a trip.


    Missouri teal hunting
    ?WHAT: Special hunt to give hunters a shot at early migrating teal. Only teal are legal game.

    ?WHEN: Opens Saturday and continues through Sept. 21.

    ?SHOOTING HOURS: Sunrise to sunset.

    ?REGISTRATION: There will be no drawing at public areas during teal season. Hunters must use self-check system at designated areas.

    ?LIMITS: Four daily, eight in possession.

    ?KANSAS SEASON: The Kansas teal season opens Sept. 13 and runs through Sept. 28 in the Low Plains Zone and through Sept. 20 in the High Plains Zone.
  5. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    From Pearce in the Eagle:

    Conditions decent for start of teal season
    The Wichita Eagle

    For the first time in several years, all three major wetland areas in central Kansas are reporting fair to very good hunting conditions. Quite a few teal are also using the areas.

    ? Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area -- Fishermen often hear "you should have been here yesterday." Those hunting at Cheyenne Bottoms this weekend could be hearing "you should have been here last week."

    Though teal are still spotted in nice numbers, many have already migrated on.

    "I'd be surprised if we have 3,000 teal now," said Karl Grover, Cheyenne Bottoms manager. "Seven to 10 days ago we were guessing we had at least 5,000. We'll still have decent hunting but it's disappointing it won't be what it could have been."

    There's also a very good chance more flocks of teal could migrate into the area before the season ends on Sept. 28.

    Grover said water levels are pretty good in most pools. Boaters will need to be careful because last year's record-high waters moved some silted areas.

    "The bottom's shifted from what it's been like for several years," Grover said. "Guy's who've known where they were going for a couple of years may have to be cautious."

    ? Quivira National Wildlife Refuge -- Biologist Gary Meggers said a Thursday count found about 3,200 bluewing and 1,200 greenwing teal scattered about the area.

    He said water levels are low in units 28, 29 and 30. All of the northern units are holding good water, as are units 10 and 11.

    ? McPherson Valley Wetlands -- About 2,500 teal are using the assorted marshes at the McPherson Valley Wetlands. Missed by many summer rains that crossed central Kansas, McPherson's wetlands conditions were rated as "fair" by biologist Brent Theede.

    He's been pumping water for about a month and said the wetland cells at the south end of the wetlands complex have the best water conditions.

    Theede has high hopes for rains predicted over the next few days.

    "We could really use a three- or four-inch rain so we could get some runoff coming in," he said. "It could fill things up in no time. It would kind of mean all that time pumping over the last month wasn't needed but that'd be OK."
  6. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    From Pearce in the Eagle

    Mixed success greets hunters for start of teal season
    The Wichita Eagle

    Cheyenne Bottoms

    "Our hunter numbers were down from what they normally are for teal season," said Karl Grover, area manager. "A lot of our hunters come from Sedgwick County. I guess a lot of those guys were home worrying about the flooding."

    The lack of hunters probably hurt the success rate.

    "There was a pretty good flurry at the start of legal shooting time," said game warden Matt Stucker. "After that the birds just landed where there weren't any hunters and stayed there."

    Stucker and Grover said hunters they checked averaged about 2 ? teal per person. "That doesn't surprise me," Grover said. "We just don't have that many birds compared to most times."

    He estimated at least half of the birds in the area last weekend had moved on.

    McPherson Wetlands

    Though the area only had a fair amount of teal, it had plenty of hunters, success and mess.

    "We've got a lot of mud. The roads are just flat-out terrible up here," said Brent Theede, wetlands manager. "We had a lot of people but about everybody we checked had limits."

    Cody Doane and two partners had their limits within about 15 minutes of the start of legal shooting time.

    "We had five (spinning-wing decoys) out and it seemed to make a difference. We were expecting a lot of people and we wanted to make our spread easily seen," Doane said. "Almost every bird we shot was banking to come to the (spinning-wing decoys). I think we'd a have done OK without them, though."

    Theede said Saturday's high hunting pressure may have pushed most of the teal off of the wetlands and on to flooded fields on private ground.

    He said there's an upside to the heavy rains that flooded the fields and turned the roads into quagmires.

    "We've got water coming in everywhere," he said. "Things are looking good. We may be set for the entire season."


    Game warden Phil Kirkland said the action didn't appear to be too fast at the popular public area 30 miles west of Hutchinson.

    "When you drive through the place at 10:30 and people are still out hunting they're not killing a lot of birds," he said. "None of the guys I checked on private leases were getting many birds, either."

    He blamed hundreds of potholes in flooded farm fields for scattering the birds all across the area.

    Kirkland said hunting pressure and success were both very light at the Texas Lake Wildlife Area.

    Reno, Harvey Counties

    Bob Snyder and two friends hunted a private wetland he manages in western Reno County. They had 11 birds by about 7:20. The limit-filling 12th didn't come until 8:05. They didn't see a lot of birds.

    "It's not what it would have been a week ago out here," Snyder said. "We probably had 1,000 teal on this pond. It would have been a cake-walk."

    At a Harvey County pond, Marc Murrell and two hunting partners shot two teal. "We didn't see 15 teal," Murrell said. "That's a heck of change from last year when we were done in 15 minutes."
  7. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    From Pearce in the Eagle

    CHEYENNE BOTTOMS - Rick Tomlinson predicted we'd find teal as thick as mosquitoes. We were at the heart of such a swarm Thursday afternoon.

    Flushed by a nearby shot, at least 400 passed just out of range to the south. About a dozen zipped in low from behind, passing barely overhead as four or five zipped 10 yards to our front.

    To savor a great hunt, I laid off the trigger. I think there's going to be a lot to savor about the upcoming months of duck season.

    It's been a while since there's been such promise within seasons at hand. But there's much doubt about the seasons to follow.

    Duck populations this year were high enough for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bless us with a 74-day season and a daily limit of five. As they migrate south, the birds should find plenty to like in central Kansas.

    The same storms that flooded Wichita helped fill Cheyenne Bottoms, the McPherson Valley Wetlands and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Throughout the region playas, ponds and sloughs are also holding water.

    Flooded, lush weeds will provide plenty of food for everything from tiny teal to big mallards.

    But biologists are already preparing hunters for possible declines down the road as crucial nesting habitat to the north is under attack.

    High grain prices, driven largely by the ethanol industry, are seeing huge chunks of grasslands in the Dakotas and Canada planted to grain. About 400,000 acres of North Dakota CRP went under the plow last year.

    Drought throughout the region has compounded the problem.

    If duck production and populations decline, as feared, we'll get shorter seasons and lesser limits. A 39-day season with a limit of three birds might not be far down the road.

    That has plenty of us planning on getting the most from this year's long seasons.

    Thursday and Friday teal hunts with Tomlinson, of Great Bend, proved to be great appetizers for the feasts to come.

    The Sept. 13 teal opener found fair hunting for a few days, then the birds seemed to disappear for about a week. Tomlinson called Tuesday and said bluewings had made a big-time return.

    As we motored to mid-marsh Thursday afternoon hundreds of teal rose from patches of open water amid flooded rushes, cattails and other vegetation.

    We tossed 18 decoys into an open spot and I knelt in the short cover while Tomlinson stashed the boat about 100 yards away.

    He'd barely left the craft when I downed my third teal. The life-long waterfowler shot his limit of four before he'd waded halfway back to our decoys.

    I passed up a dozen or more opportunities before I finished my limit on a teal angel-winging over the decoys.

    We hit the marsh extra early Friday to get the most of a morning. The first shot wasn't fired until 50 or more teal had passed after the start of legal shooting light.

    Limits came in a leisurely 40 minutes. We stayed that much longer just watching the birds.

    At one time, three young whitetail bucks came splashing through the marsh, flushing assorted flocks along the way. As well as teal, we watched mallards, gadwall and widgeon in the air.

    "That's what I like to see," Tomlinson said. "It looks like it ought to be a great season."

    It's one we both plan on enjoying as often as possible.
  8. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    Mostly good news for bird hunters
    Drought in far west counties hurts numbers

    By Marc Murrell
    The Capital-Journal
    Published Sunday, October 05, 2008

    If you're an upland bird hunter now is the time to typically start wondering about the upcoming seasons. Will there be as many or more birds than last year? Will there be any hot spots? Are there any areas that got hit adversely by Mother Nature?

    The 2008 upland bird hunting seasons will see similar opening days as the past couple years. The pheasant season will open on Nov. 1 and run through Jan. 31. The quail season will open a week later on Nov. 8 and run through Jan. 31.

    In 2009 the pheasant and quail seasons will return to the traditional opening date of the second Saturday of November (14th) and run through Jan. 31, 2010.

    Marc Murrell
    "Good to excellent," is the prediction for pheasants, quail, and prairie chicken hunting this fall according to the prognosticators at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP).

    However, there were parts of Kansas hit extremely hard by Mother Nature in one form or another, so hunters may want to have a backup plan if they typically hunt in some of these areas.

    "We killed about 887,000 pheasants last year, which was the highest since 1987," said Jim Pitman, small game program coordinator for the KDWP. "The last couple years we've really improved a bit and I would expect it to be similar this year."

    Last year was a good year for pheasants by many hunters' accounts. As a result, the number of birds going into the 2008 nesting season was 35 percent higher than it was the previous year. A wet spring delayed the wheat crop maturation and harvest resulting in a longer period of time for nesting hens to pull of a successful nest.

    "I think the best pheasant hunting will be north or northeast of Dodge City all the way up to the Nebraska line and as far east as maybe Osborne County and as far west as Norton and Decatur counties," Pitman said. "That's a big triangle that should be some of our better areas and our counts were really high."

    The bad news for pheasant hunters was that extreme drought conditions plagued much of southwest Kansas resulting in poor production, according to Pitman.

    "Morton, Stevens, Seward, Stanton and Grant counties were really dry and had less than 10 inches of rain on the year so those are likely going to be poor this year," Pitman said. "It's also been dry in about the western tier or two of counties all the way up to the Nebraska line so it's going to be tough out there, too."

    The quail population hasn't experienced the same recent highs as pheasants and numbers have been a bit depressed throughout the last few years. Last year's harvest of roughly 470,000 birds was the worst in many years, according to Pitman.

    "That's mostly due to some of the flooding we've had in the east," Pitman said. "Some of our traditionally better areas were really down last year with record low harvest and some of that same area got hit with ice last winter so our whistle counts were poor again this spring."

    On a positive quail note, the central part of the state in the Red Hills area of Kansas has been fairly productive during the last few years.

    "It's even ticking upward a little bit and production was good again this year so there should be some good hunting in that part of the state," Pitman said.

    Parts of northeast Kansas are considered spotty, according to Pitman. Some areas received significant rainfall much like southeast Kansas, further limiting production.

    "If you get out of some of the areas of heavy rains it could be pretty good," Pitman said. "The weather was somewhat favorable in Jackson, Pottawatomie, Wabaunsee and Jefferson counties so if you get into some of these areas the numbers may have even improved from last year."

    Prairie chickens still draw interest from upland bird hunters although not as much as pheasants and quail. Kansas chicken hunters killed about 6,000 birds in 2006 and Pitman estimates last year's harvest to be similar or even a bit lower.

    Greater prairie chicken numbers in their historical strongholds of the Flint Hills region have been on a downward trend the last few years. The increased frequency of range burning is one culprit and Mother Nature has an impact, too.

    "The southern part of the Flint Hills got a lot of heavy rain the last two years so the production there has been terrible and that coupled with the downward long term trend isn't favorable for numbers there," Pitman said. "There are a few areas still in the central part of the Flint Hills that didn't get hit with rain that could be okay, but overall there it's going to be tough."

    Greater prairie chicken numbers in the Smoky Hills and north central Kansas have been stable or even increasing in some areas, according to Pitman.

    "I think that will be the better part of the state again this year," he said.

    Northeast Kansas chicken hunters should see numbers similar to last year and Pitman rates the region as "fair."

    "There aren't a lot of birds but there hasn't been a depreciable decline either," Pitman said.

    Decent numbers of prairie chickens can generally be found in parts of Washington, Marshall, Pottawatomie, Riley and Clay counties, as well as a few flocks scattered throughout other counties.

    Pitman is enthused about this year's prospects and hopes hunters take advantage of it, particularly with some major changes in land practices coming in the near future. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) stands to lose thousands of acres of prime wildlife habitat leaving a big question mark in the future of many species of upland birds as well as non-game species.

    "I think it's going to be a really good year for pheasants and a good year for quail in the central part of the state," Pitman said. "I would take advantage of it now before we potentially lose one-third of our CRP over the next couple years, because once that happens we may not see these numbers again."
  9. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    Grandson continues Heidelbauer duck call legacy
    Calls are known worldwide

    Berdette Zastrow ? For the Argus Leader ? October 1, 2008

    The sound was spectacular as I turned my head to discover its source. I expected to see a Canada goose 10 feet away from my hunting pit, but it wasn't to be found.

    It was a Heidelbauer goose call, and my hunting buddy winked as he continued to perfectly replicate the sound, which fooled a lot of geese, too.

    That's part of the legend and impact of the late Frank Heidelbauer, an avid waterfowler who lived in Sioux Falls and died in 2002.

    He made arguably the best waterfowl calls in the world, and any hunter who owns one will agree - they are the best of the best.

    "Heidelbauer calls are tremendously well known in the waterfowl industry, especially through Ducks Unlimited and people who have been in DU for any amount of time," said Maynard Isaacson of Sioux Falls. "You mention Heidelbauer calls, and everyone knows the honesty in his call-making profession, the perfection Frank Heidelbauer demanded and his love of the resources."

    When I was able to meet Heidelbauer through conservation circles in 1990, it was a privilege.

    His sparkling eyes, quick wit and winning personality will always be remembered, especially while in the field using a call he handcrafted with love.

    He was famous not only for his calls, but for his life story. He lived in a pioneering time and entertained his friends with many stories. He was in the Army in World War II and was shot down in Burma. And, there is the story about how he dropped bombs by hand.

    But duck calls are his lasting legacy.

    "My grandfather, Frank, pioneered calls so far ahead of his time, it was amazing," said grandson Todd Heidelbauer of Sioux Falls. "There are many acrylic calls on the market now. They appeared in the mid-1990's. Grandfather started making calls in 1952, using acrylics. He was 40 years ahead of the curve on acrylics."

    Todd, 35, is continuing the Heidelbauer Wildfowl Calls tradition and makes calls the same way today.

    "No other calls are made like ours with wood barrel and high end internal acrylic parts," he said.

    Todd started to make calls when his grandfather's health started to suffer in the 1990s. Frank asked his grandson to help, and the tradition was passed on.

    "He couldn't stand anymore, had no hand strength and his eyesight was not what it needed to be," Todd said.

    Frank had assumed his business was finished, but he couldn't turn anyone down, taking orders while Todd was in college.

    Frank would make a couple of pieces and Todd would make all the rest.

    "He sat close by and guided me step-by-step," Todd said. "I started making calls fulltime in the late 1990s. It is now a hobby business because I have a new custom interior wood plantation shutters business where I can use my wood craftsmanship."

    He now makes 35-75 calls per year, mostly duck calls.

    He makes a portion of the calls in his home in the evening and a portion at the shutter shop because he uses the same tools for both businesses.

    How it's made
    To start the process, the young Heidelbauer makes 50 of one piece, then 50 of another, depending on orders.

    Frank used Birdseye maple from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Todd still uses it and has added maple burl and Tigerstripe maple, also from the UP, offering customers more than one option. He also uses maple burl from a hardwood facility in Oregon.

    "I need a hardwood and use maple because it's beautiful wood," Todd said. "Grandfather loved it."

    Different types of maple can be used for the calls because there is no sound difference among the three types of wood. The only part of the call made of wood is the barrel.

    When the parts are all constructed, they are then put together. Tuning is next.

    "The tuning process is doing each step of assembly," Todd said. "Individually assembling each of the pieces is tedious. I test the call while putting it together."

    It took Frank 12 hours to make a duck call. Todd does it now in eight hours partly because he is younger and partly because new tools have shortened the process.

    Todd learned the right sound over a course of time, and tuning is done by ear. Frank used a "master call" to assist in tuning new calls. He would blow the new call until it matched the master call sound.

    "It was quite a talent," said Todd.

    Now Todd can tune by ear. If a customer wants the call easier to blow or higher in pitch, he can oblige.

    "The interesting part is my grandfather built every tool used to make calls," said Todd. "No one could duplicate them. He was an old German perfectionist with incredible design skills. The calls are still the same as those made 50-60 years ago and the best in the world."

    Todd's father and uncle still use their calls made in 1958. Durability and sound quality are what make the calls perfect.

    "The calls produce the sound a real duck uses," Todd said. "In all the years I've spent in a duck marsh, I've rarely heard another call that truly mimics the hen Mallard as ours does."

    Todd's is a solo operation, as was his grandfather's.

    "When I am gone, these calls will never be made again because no one else knows how to do it."

    He is single and has no children, but took a nephew on a first waterfowl hunt last fall.

    Todd will continue the tradition of donating duck calls to Ducks Unlimited fundraising, something Frank did for decades. Todd is neither soliciting nor marketing calls. It is his hobby.

    Many calls are sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

    "We even sent one to Tasmania," Todd said. "Germany is a frequent buyer, maybe because of the Heidelbauer name.

    "Due to the long-standing reputation of Heidelbauer calls, orders come in every year. This is very much fun because of all the people I get to talk to all around the country. The biggest blessing is being able to carry on the tradition."
  10. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    As duck opener approaches, marshes have recovered from 2008?s heavy rains
    The Kansas City Star

    Cool weather is pushing waterfowl south and onto marshes and impoundments in Kansas and Missouri. This could have been a lot worse.

    With spring and summer?s frequent flooding, managers of Missouri and Kansas waterfowl marshes had feared the worst. Moist-soil food in the pools was flooded, levees were breached and access roads were damaged.

    But today, as the duck-hunting opener approaches, managers are breathing a big sigh of relief.

    For the most part, managed wetlands have bounced back nicely. And with the duck seasons set to open Saturday in Missouri?s North Zone and Kansas? Late Zone, waterfowl already are streaming into the region by the thousands.

    ?We dodged a big bullet, especially at Bob Brown,? said Marty Marks, a wildlife biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation at the Bob Brown and Nodaway Valley conservation areas in northwest Missouri.

    ?In the July floods, we came within a few inches of the Missouri River coming over the top of the levees. That would have caused big problems.

    ?As it was, we lost some moist-soil food at both Brown and Nodaway, and it was getting late for it to re-grow and be mature enough to attract ducks. But it?s come back better than we even thought.?

    Indeed, there are good stands of moist-soil food, plenty of water and lots of cover at both of the popular northern Missouri waterfowl areas ? all essentials for attracting ducks and producing good hunting.

    Add them up, and you have a bright outlook for Saturday?s opener.

    Bob Brown has 15,000 ducks splashing around in the marshes, while Nodaway Valley has 5,500. Young hunters experienced a successful youth season at both places last weekend, and Marks is expecting more of the same this weekend.

    The situation is similarly encouraging at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri.

    There, too, plenty of food, water and cover already are attracting ducks. The area had 42,000 ducks and 1,500 geese as of the last count, and more ducks are arriving daily with colder weather to the north.

    ?We survived the bad stuff,? said Charles Marshall, park ranger at Squaw Creek. ?We really didn?t get affected by the flooding this spring and summer.

    ?We got enough rain to give us plenty of water in the marshes and good food. But we didn?t have anything severe.?

    The same is true at the Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area in eastern Kansas.

    There, all marshes except one that is being repaired have good to excellent water and good food. The result? About 10,000 ducks have already shown up.

    But other marshes weren?t so fortunate. The Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge in north-central Missouri has been flooded 10 times since March, according to manager Steve Whitson, and that has taken a toll.

    ?The last flood was in September, and it was devastating,? Whitson said. ?We lost a lot of our moist-soil food. And the floods as a whole took 80 percent of our crops.

    ?With our water, we?ll get ducks and geese this year. But the big question is, ?How long will they stay?? ?



    ?WHAT: Duck openers in Missouri?s North Zone and Kansas? Late Zone

    ?WHEN: Saturday

    ?HOURS: Half-hour before sunrise to sunset

    ?MISSOURI SEASON DATES: North Zone: Oct. 25-Dec. 23. Middle Zone: Nov. 1-Dec. 30. South Zone: Nov. 27-Jan. 25.

    ?KANSAS SEASON DATES: High Plains Zone: Oct. 4-Dec. 30 and Jan. 17-25. Early Zone: Oct. 11-Dec. 7 and Dec. 20-Jan. 4. Late Zone: Oct. 25-Dec. 28 and Jan. 17-25.

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