Swan Lake NWR- Thoughts

Discussion in 'Missouri Flyway Forum' started by harrism31, Jul 11, 2017.

  1. harrism31

    harrism31 Guest

    Hello all.
    I have spent some time reading a lot of posts here about those who hunt/ have hunted in the past around Swan Lake NWR. I know a lot of you guys are right there around it. Seems like there are a lot of opinions regarding a lot of different aspects of the area.
    I occasionally get an invite to a club up there and have gotten drawn for hunting Swan Lake. I love the area, and I love the history of the area. My grandfather used to tell me stories of he and my great-grandfather hunting geese up there and seeing more geese than words could describe. Both are long passed, but I vaguely recall stories of shell limits, mandatory check stations, and other things from my childhood he would tell us.

    Becuase of those stories, I feel I am lucky to still be able to hunt the area.

    Question for discussion: How has Swan Lake changed over the years? Only hunting it a few times a year, for the past 3-4 years, I haven't had the exposure many of you here have to the area. Nor have I logged the years to see it change. I continuously hear folks talk about how the area is so different than 20,30,40 years ago, both good and bad.

    What are your thoughts? Stories? Please, tell me your opinions. Thanks!
     
  2. bluegoose61

    bluegoose61 Refuge Member

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    Missouri
    I have hunted on and around Swan for over 30 years. It has undergone many changes over that time. It has become a sad story. You can start with the current management. They do not appear to have any knowledge of what is required to have even a chance of success. When you talk to them they always point the finger at budget cuts. Obviously that is part of it but not all. When the area became open for duck hunting two years ago they placed an emphasis on taking kids hunting and then did nothing to make it inviting for a child or even a senior citizen to go. There are still several blinds on the area. They do nothing to maintain them. There is no pumping. Water is all gravity flow. Gates are old and not all still hold water. They do not mow an area before they flood it. So when you draw a spot. You are given stern warnings to go only to this assigned area and hunt there. When you get there you realize there is no open area to place decoys. You attempt to find a spot that there might be enough water to float a few decoys. Then you realize there is no place to hide. I don't know any kids who have any interest in sitting on a bucket in a field of cuckleburrs and ankle deep water watching birds fly off the area to feed. There are dry fields of course. I haven't talked to anybody that had much success trying to work mallards into a bare dirt or mowed grass field.
    I am well aware that it is not their job to make it easy for someone to go shoot ducks on the area. But, the birds are definitely around. A little effort could make it a destination spot once again. Plant something, it doesn't have to be flooded corn, millet, buckwheat, milo, smartweed, anything. Fix the flood gates. Ask for volunteers to pump out and camo the blinds. Mow some spots in the hunting zones before you flood them. Relax the regulations that make it impossible for tenant farmers to plant corn. Not very many people can afford to pay a hefty price to come to this area to hunt. Swan is over 10,000 acres. You could accommodate 15-20 parties 3 or 4 days a week and not seriously disturb the "refuge" aspect. If it was a quality hunt most people would not balk at paying $5 or $10 a day to hunt. It would definitely benefit the area financially to have people come here to hunt. Anyone that travels to hunt is going to be looking for food, gas and lodging. I could go on and on. I remember the good old days too. Hearing people constantly harp about how management ran off the Canada Geese and ruined it forever does no good. Work with what you do have which is plenty of ducks and snow geese. If they don't plan on doing anything to move forward they might as well remove all public use and make it a total refuge. I'm gonna stop for now. Somebody else can jump in. It definitely needs to be talked about I have been blowing this horn long enough.
     
    ARHHH4, WHUP ! Hen, 10GAGENUT and 2 others like this.
  3. 10GAGENUT

    10GAGENUT Elite Refuge Member Sponsor Flyway Manager

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    I believe a lot of it stems from the fact hunting was considered part of good wildlife management practice years ago, now it seems the anti hunters have taken over USFWS and their management practices, any hunting is consider a bad practice all around.
     
    WHUP ! Hen and Sunklands like this.
  4. TooTall

    TooTall Elite Refuge Member

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    on the road again
    I wouldn't go that far, but it does seem that hunters have lost the top priority position. However, hunters are still contributing the lion's share of the funding. Managed hunting should be part of "wildlife management" on any tract - which in my mind would include national wildlife refuges.

    I've never hunted Swan, but just looking at the map it does appear to be under utilized for waterfowl hunting.
     
  5. Sunklands

    Sunklands Elite Refuge Member

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    Sounds like a broken record, year after year.
     
  6. 10GAGENUT

    10GAGENUT Elite Refuge Member Sponsor Flyway Manager

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    From the limited amount of days you can hunt and the poor management/falling apart facilities I wouldn't waste the gas money to go up there. Which I wonder sometimes is exactly what they want.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  7. oldfireguy

    oldfireguy Senior Refuge Member

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    mi
    I hunted Swan for 10 years in the 1980s. I think they had about 70 blinds? All well built and camoflaged. You could bring or rent field shells. Refuge typically held 100,000 birds. 2 bird, 10 shell limit. Hunter success ran .5 birds per hunter per day. We found the biggest limiting factor was the mandate to stay at your designated blind. If winds were pushing birds 50 yards to one side......you could not adjust. Hence it was a "shooting" not a " hunting" opportunity.
    Refuge staff was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. I now have a camp in the ND Coteau. Waterfowl dream.
     
  8. 10GAGENUT

    10GAGENUT Elite Refuge Member Sponsor Flyway Manager

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    That was back when MDC was taking care of the blinds and hunting areas, now as was stated everything has been left to fall apart.
    Here's an interesting report on hunting Swan back in the 1980's, maybe nostalgic for many
    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct...=41319&usg=AFQjCNGaSkQnFqo_DN__gWJqxTwKQANmDw
     
  9. oldfireguy

    oldfireguy Senior Refuge Member

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    MO had a 1/8% sales tax by law devoted to mdc. Lots of funding. Professional led. Is the reduction in funding from the fed side? FWS?
     
  10. 10GAGENUT

    10GAGENUT Elite Refuge Member Sponsor Flyway Manager

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    If the Feds have been managing it and MDC hasn't then it's pretty obvious hunting management isn't on top of the Feds list of priorities from the condition of the place.
     

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