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Discussion in 'Missouri Flyway Forum' started by harrism31, Jul 11, 2017.
That was a great read, thank you.
I hunted the Swan Lake area in the mid-60's to the early 70's. Back then there were like eighty draw blinds around the refuge. They were well-built and brushed. Most were in a mowed field of some sort. I recall the limit was two honkers and that was about all you could shoot, if you were lucky. The count would range from 150,000 to 200,000 birds by early December. If you didn't have a reservation and no luck in the poor line there were commercial blinds around the refuge where you could usually hunt for a daily fee. Fountain Grove also had a few draw blinds for geese.
Back then, Swan was the go-to place for hunting honkers. There were private homes that rented rooms by the night and many farms that were leased for the season. Some of the best private shooting was across the RR tracks along the west side of the refuge. One of my favorite stops was the Honey House west of the refuge headquarters where you could get your birds cleaned for a modest price and have a big breakfast in the converted farmhouse while you waited.
I understand that as the bird numbers fell off, so did the hunting and the services that catered to goose hunters. Anymore, a guy can shoot geese just about anywhere in the flyway. And, it seems to me, most waterfowlers these days would rather chase ducks than geese. A goose isn't a "trophy" like it used to be fifty years ago. I don't think managing geese for hunters is the same priority for Swan like it was back when I hunted there.
Budgets are bad and only going to get worse and probably much worse. Replacing water control structures and staff to mow etc are going to get worse. Waterfowl management within the FWS has become a low priority as has active management. Traditionally hunters dominated all wildlife agencies but that has changed at both the state and federal level. Thus staff just don't have a clue about management for hunting. Hunters need to get involved in their local refuge Friends Group. Presently these groups are dominated by non-hunters thus they are leading the direction of management activities.
As far as I'm concerned the region as a whole is still excellent! There are many hunting opportunities for folks with ground under the lines. The actual Swan Lake Wildlife Area wasn't meant for hunting in the first place and with the current management structure.....hardly meant for wildlife!
That last statement was extreme but with the prairie style of management and regulatory guidelines placed on farmers on the area....progress isn't hardly possible. The fields are grown up in weeds due to the ban on modern herbicides. No corn is planted on the refuge.
This could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. For an individual with property and food nearby, the refuge rests ducks and gives them a complete sanctuary (before they began allowing hunting again but still provides tons of rest) and they travel out to find food. This provides excellent hunting for some!
I think things would be good not just for ducks but deer, turkey, and upland game as well if there were fewer farming regulations coupled with a management strategy focused more on agriculture. I realize this does cost money however....so easier said than done!
"Fewer farming regulations", is exactly right.