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My time on the Delta Waterfowl field course in "the duck factory"

Discussion in 'Illinois Flyway Forum' started by Dead Ringer, Jun 1, 2017.

  1. Dead Ringer

    Dead Ringer Refuge Member

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    Apr 15, 2008
    Location:
    So Ill
    I was fortunate to be one of 12 graduate students selected to attend a new Delta Waterfowl field course in the Prairie Pothole Region and Canadian Parklands Region. We toured ND and Manitoba to learn about duck-nesting ecology, conservation, and management. The entire course was free thanks to generous donors. We just had to get ourselves out to Bismark and back home at the end.

    Along the way, we learned from prominent researchers, managers, and policy influencers about the issues facing the region. I was very impressed that the course had a healthy balance of presentations from government, DU, Delta, and other personnel. It was interesting to hear the different viewpoints and also to see the regional differences in tactics.

    I must say that it was not what I expected. Sure, there were some partial sections of rolling prairie, but I saw more land in crops than in grassland or wetland. It definitely drove home the importance for conservation and management in the region. It really is a race against time to conserve while also working with the agriculture industry.

    Among the other highlights that I can think of right now (there were so many):
    • Seeing tiny potholes with a mix of cans, scaup, redheads, mallards, teal, pintail, shovelers, etc
    • Staying in historic places such as Delta Marsh and the Minedosa research station
    • Spending 2 weeks with my "cohort" of graduate students from around the country. These are folks that I will likely work with throughout my career, so it was great to build friendships with them.
    • Discussions about waterfowl, wetlands, hunting and other related topics in the van and into the nights.
    • Learning techniques that I had not had the opportunity to learn in the past. I drove an ATV for the first time, did upland nest searching for dabblers, searched for diving ducks in the cattails, and candled eggs.
    • Some prolific walleye fishing. I believe that we fell just a few fish short of the 75 fish limit (for our entire group) in under 4 hours.

    I have put many of my pictures up on FB. For those who are not on FB, you can still access them via this link:

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10100186485763205.1073741852.37401973&type=1&l=9c8af0edce

    Sorry, I do not have any good pictures of ducks. I have a little point-and-shoot and a cell phone. I would recommend keeping an eye on http://www.ryanaskren.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/Ryan-Askren-Wildlife-and-Nature-Photography-157742900932511/ for close-ups of wildlife from the trip. I saw some of his raw images and they were worth checking out. Not sure when he'll get the finished images up.
     
    TooTall, DuckyPhe and riverrat47 like this.
  2. dvegas

    dvegas Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
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    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    All over....usually too far from home
    This is very cool. I saw those pics today on FB but want to tell you how much I appreciate what you do.
     
  3. DuckyPhe

    DuckyPhe Senior Refuge Member

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    Location:
    Mapleton, Illinois
    Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

    Chris
     
  4. The Yeti

    The Yeti Elite Refuge Member

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    May 21, 2004
    Location:
    ILL
    Great stuff here John. :tu

    I'm glad you were able to get up to the duck factory, it's a far different place and experience during normal operating hours while goods are being produced than later in the year when the goods are just for sale! (i.e., Fall). My first two tech jobs were in ND (Devils Lake and Kenmare), it was eye opening and cemented my intended career path. And we almost lived off of walleyes on our skimpy intern stipends. I might still have a few rusty lures stuck in those trees... I miss it. And I still need to drink a beer at Kirchofer! It's literally a life goal of mine.

    I'm also glad a bunch of IL students, or students with IL ties made it up there. Having a breeding grounds perspective helps tie annual cycle discussions together.

    Another suggestion would be to make sure to get yourself to a Flyway meeting. The "duck world" is surprisingly small and tight knit and it's another great way to make contacts and learn other perspectives. And you are right that these folks will be your peers for years going forward.

    Just another point of interest for anyone still reading... about 26% of the mallards we shoot in IL come from Manitoba, another 26% from Saskatchewan and North Dakota in a distant third with about 9%.
    So although those duck nests seem worlds away, it's entirely possible that some of them may find there way over IL hunters' decoys in a few short months!
     
    riverrat47 and TooTall like this.
  5. Dead Ringer

    Dead Ringer Refuge Member

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    Apr 15, 2008
    Location:
    So Ill
    Thanks for all of the comments. As I said, I am lucky to have had this opportunity and the real thanks goes to Frank Rohwer, Luke Laborde, the guest speakers, and the sponsors that made it happen.

    I bet that any lures that you left in trees are under a few feet of water now. We were casting a treeline that was formerly a hilltop. Wetland consolidation drainage is real. Also, I will certainly put a bug in the boss' ear about getting to a flyway meeting or two in my time here. And it was great to see that 4 IL students were on the trip (plus one recent graduate from here). I hope to get those boys out on a So Ill hunt this season!
     
  6. zettler

    zettler Elite Refuge Member

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    Chatham, IL USA
    John.

    If you get the opportunity head to the Louisiana marshes by Metairie (sp?) and the area around Moosonee.
     
  7. Dead Ringer

    Dead Ringer Refuge Member

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    Location:
    So Ill
    Thanks for the tip, Bob. I helped a friend move to Metairie years ago and had designs to take a trip out to see the marshes, but he got tied up in meetings and that ended the plans. Do you mean Moosonee, Ontario? I didn't hike the marshes there, but did fly into and spend a few days in Moosonee on my way to/from Akamiski Island.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. zettler

    zettler Elite Refuge Member

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    Yep. Moosonee, Ontario.
     

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