North and Central duck Season thoughts

Discussion in 'Illinois Flyway Forum' started by River hunter, Dec 23, 2018.

  1. BUCKSHOT#4

    BUCKSHOT#4 Elite Refuge Member

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    Lots of theories and I don’t think it’s just one thing nor do I believe they are all wrong. I believe it’s a culmination of many things that have contributed to the season we have had. After branching out and hunting out of state again, the same problems are happening up and down the Flyway, from what I personally witnessed and was told by those in the know. Bottom line, it doesn’t bother me as I am just thankful to be able to go and spend the time with friends and my dogs while killing a few birds
     
    Jon C likes this.
  2. fboutdoors

    fboutdoors Senior Refuge Member

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    Mar 2, 2014
    Location:
    IL
    I also believe the migration has moved west. What does Illinois have to hold ducks around. Carlyle tries but it always floods out , rend not much, pyramid well nothing, and maybe we should stop letting the clubs lobby this early start and push the days back so it may be possible to get some weather to move ducks. Season ends here in s central in early Jan and look at long term forecast the first real good cold push is right after season closes. Almost every hunter has ice eaters and generators (and if ya dont go buy one) so open water is no longer as much as an issue it's time to push the season back and put a split in if needed.
     
  3. fboutdoors

    fboutdoors Senior Refuge Member

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    IL
    And I also agree it is not the site managers or workers fault they do what they can with what they are given which is next to nothing
     
  4. riverrat47

    riverrat47 Elite Refuge Member

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    nw illinois
    Canvasbacker, if you don't think that Randy Smith, the present head of the waterfowl program, isn't an avid duck hunter, think again. Same goes for many of the former waterfowl biologists...or Steve Havera (former waterfowl head for Ill. Natural History Survey).
    I agree with MudDuk. With biologists from numerous states taking part in the annual breeding surveys along with USFWS/DU/Delta, it would be virtually impossible to fake the data. Too many people would have to be in on it AND keep their mouths shut about it...an impossible task.
    The 1993 and more recent floods changed a lot of things around my area of the Miss (Quad Cities). Many levee districts on Missouri River failed, way more than on the Miss, failed. I know Iowa DNR ended up with many of these districts, blocking up drainage ditches and breaking field tiles, ie: restoring habitat, effectively short stopping ducks from the PPR that may have come east. Also, our backwater vegetation has never come back. I do not seen near the number of ducks in Pools 16-18 as I did pre 1993.
    Granted, Illinois conservation efforts have been hamstrung since at least 2003, when blago became governor. It was not enough for him to never replace the numerous employees who retired at that time, he also chose to lay off hundreds more and cut the budget even more. As a former employee, I'd say blago set the department back at least 60 years. Despite a bunch of lip service by various directors, IDNR is still behind the proverbial 8 ball. With an anti gun, Chicago democrat as governor, I don't look for any good changes in the foreseeable future. I'm just totally amazed how much gets done at our sites with no staff, antiquated/broken or non-existent equipment, and no money. Personally, I think most of our site managers could give Merlin a run for his money.
    As Buckshot said, there are lots of variables in play. I could probably go on a couple of more pages, even putting Zettler to shame for longevity, if I get going, so I'll quit now.
     
    Il. MudDuk likes this.
  5. Troller

    Troller Senior Refuge Member

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    Jan 17, 2017
    Location:
    Ohio
    Riverrat keep going, I love hearing the history and an honest opinion on the future.

    I had an ok year with ducks, but from what I keep hearing over and over ok is good these days.
     
  6. BJH

    BJH Senior Refuge Member

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    Mar 21, 2004
    Location:
    west-central IL
    Riverside-last year the confluence had the 4th highest count, around veterens day (the traditional high point on the river) ever recorded on record. I have hunted over 45 years, seen ducks, seen weather, but things have changed, man has changed it! There's a refuge, public & private, every +/- 50 miles. The more $$$ you have, the more ducks!
     
  7. duckmann

    duckmann Elite Refuge Member

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    Location:
    Carterville, IL
    I started duckhunting when I was 19. We were self taught and I was the one that was truly addicted. I gathered the gear over years5. Starting in central IN the partners varied over time with many solo trips. The hunts were nearly always on public land. I started before steel shot was even an idea through point season and short season years. A great many years as a young man I worked 3-11, slept about 3 hours and hunted 6 days a week. Over time job moves took me to western KY, SW IN, and finally southern IL. I lost partners to distance and death. Finally about 3 years ago hunting solo at the age of 63 on public land list it's luster. I no longer felt safe venturing out in a boat on a winter lake in the dark and stopped goung. I still feel the draw of the season but a few days said something to my wife that I never thought I'd say when I told her I was glad I had quit. I knew from watching the local waters and following here that it was a season of frustration and little hope especially for the public land shooter. I had many good years and have many lasting memories but have little hope for the future of hunting in IL with the second coming of Blago.
     
    riverrat47 and Skycarp33 like this.
  8. The Yeti

    The Yeti Elite Refuge Member

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    Location:
    ILL
    So the gist of this thread is "Merry Xmas, I suck!"
    A couple thoughts, I'll probably miss a few of the topics covered, apologies in advance.

    This year was bizarre, I have a lot fewer seasons than some of you, but I can never remember such stale ducks on opening day and pretty much continuing throughout the season. Did I hunt hard all season anyway, yeah.

    FWS, DU, etc. lying about populations; first, DU only summarizes and interprets the FWS BPOP report. They don't conduct the survey or analyze the data. FWS biologists in the planes and on the ground count and report what they see, a few years ago they started doing blog posts during the survey period. You can follow along with what they are seeing daily. The biostatisticians that run the data use what is reported to them from BPOP, May ponds and harvest surveys, seasons are set on what the model spits out.

    We will have 60/6 in 2019-20. Already being set. The regulatory cycle changed a few years ago, Miss flyway will see no change (except pintail back to 1) for next year. I don't remember if black ducks will change either.

    Habitat, refuge, migration shifting west, etc; ducks are excellent samplers of their environment and go where the habitat is. MO probably has better habitat than IL most years. They made a conscious decision years ago to manage intensively for natural wetland vegetation and use crops sparingly as a tool. They also limit access and opportunity and attempt to maintain very high quality hunting. In contrast, we maximize opportunity at the sake of quality, but in many locations hunters can hunt every day if they so choose. Tradeoffs.
    If all ducks wanted and needed was corn and open water, IL would hold every one in the flyway. We plant about 11 million acres of corn annually, have quite a few big open lakes, but have lost over 90% of our historic wetlands. Corn is not limited, and flooded corn alone will not attract and hold ducks indefinitely. More of it everywhere will not fix this.
    MO managers take their moist-soil as seriously as IL corn growers. Cocklebur is a sign of poor management and should sparse to absent. Trying moist-soil, doing it poorly, and blaming biologists and their weeds for the lack of ducks is far different than the intensive management done at MO sites. Some sites do it well, others, not so much.

    The reason for these differences is diverse, lack of resources, man power, infrastructure, know-how, river flooding, etc. Some is fixable, some not. I believe all of our dnr sites do everything they can for their hunters. I'm not convinced that those actions are always the most effective for attracting, holding and harvesting ducks.

    That said, IL still holds a lot of ducks in places. The IL and MS Rivers have had some very high counts in the past 5-10 years. It's correlated with food, which is correlated to stopover duration. The big habitat patches need to have food to make those things happen. No food and no refuge, no ducks. Again, if all ducks needed was open water, we'd have plenty of ducks.

    Current FWS regs allow 3 zones with a single split, or 4 zones and no splits. Eliminating a zone is not likely, who goes away? Pushing seasons back because "everyone has ice eaters" would take a lot of opportunity away. Something like 60% of all duck hunter days occur on public land. We do a lot for our hunters in IL, but providing ice eaters is not one of them.

    What to do? I don't know, but doing the same thing and hoping for different results seems ineffective. It seems MO has at least some effective strategies figured out, so emulating those seems reasonable, as does trying to provide our sites and managers with the tools and resources they need to better manage our habitat here.
     
  9. rism

    rism Senior Refuge Member

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    Jul 7, 2010
    Location:
    West Central, Il
    Yeti - agreed w/ 100%. Your last line is the killer though !! Getting the site managers the tools and resources they need will never happen as long as the IDNR is run and funded as it is currently.
     
  10. Il. MudDuk

    Il. MudDuk Elite Refuge Member Supporting Member

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    Southwestern Illinois, U.S.A.
    Screw that. I'm marching on the Governor's door step for my free ice-eater !

    Something that Yeti said that I do believe / see.....the state does try to provide opportunity, or so it seems in my opinion, at the cost of quality i.e. jamb duck blinds every 100 yards apart, jamb way to many dove hunters into a field, etc.

    I want to be able to hunt/fish/relax like the rest of you, but I want some quality when I do it.
     

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