Corn complexes in the Columbia basin

Anchovy Andrew

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Went for a drive this week with a good buddy. He said you have to come see this. We scout really hard and put good shoots together but just haven’t seen the birds like expected. We took a drive up to the golden triangle in the basin. The sheer numbers of birds sitting on private land corn complexes is mental. Thousands of mallards, pintails etc. A guide service that shall not be named just posted they shot over a thousands ducks this week. I’m pro capitalism, pro do whatever the heck you want on your land but at some point you go this is commercial farming of migratory birds for profit/ financial gain.Also I’m unaware where flooding standing corn is part of normal agriculture practices per the feds rules of baiting. I’m also keenly aware this is standard practice across the country. Has the practice of flooding standing corn ever been brought to court by the feds as baiting? Is there any case law where this was hashed out and decide? I was extremely dis heartened to see the sheer amount of birds and it completely makes sense now that this could fundamentally change a migration or stop migrating birds. It also explains why many public waters no longer hold birds because they’re all sitting on private corn complexes. I’ve been grappling this week with what I saw. On the one hand it’s great that birds have habitat on the other hand it’s a real bummer to finally understand why a lot of public land is not holding birds. I know it’s also a multi factorial issue. Pressure on public land etc and not as cut and dry as the corn. I’d also add that the feds and state have failed completely to manage public lands for waterfowl habitat in a lot of cases. Just curious about this issue and if it’s ever been hashed out. Also what folks opinions on this are. I guess I’ll just keep playing the lotto until I get that Oprah money. My wife’s going to kill me though when she finds out I spent half the money on a flooded corn circle. I think I could build a pretty decent condo in a pit blind though.
 
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harleymc

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I have seen this myself as well for a number of years, it has clearly impacted the distribution of birds in the basin. From what I have heard anecdotally, it used to be considered baiting, until a Senator got pinched for it many years ago in some other state. So he introduced legislation to make it legal, and it has since proliferated across the country. That's what money and power can do.

There is no way it can be considered normal agricultural practice to flood corn. The only reason to do so is to provide ducks food, water, and shelter in the same place so that they are concentrated and easier to kill. It is baiting, pure and simple.

Because we live in a democratic republic, we are not powerless even though we don't have money. We can organize and drive change through the ballot box or any number of other processes - like a statewide ballot initiative, or working with the WDFW Wildlife commission that just ended the spring bear hunt, etc. We just need to have the will and energy to make it happen.

I don't think we could drive change nationwide, but we could get the rules changed for WA. The rest of the nation uses spinning wing and other battery powered decoys - but WA does not. We could get things changed such that you can't hunt flooded corn in WA. Each approach to enforcing the change has its benefits and its pitfalls. It would be difficult and cause a lot of infighting amongst hunters, especially pitting those with money against those without. But we could do it, and I do think it is worth considering and having a reasoned debate on the topic.
 

JBG

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I think it would be a lot easier to get public agencies to make public land better. The corn complexes have too much money at stake and the issue is too complex to create laws against it. The reason you saw those birds there is because no one is shooting at them. Drive by the resting water at Mcnary and you will see thousands of birds. There should be more public areas that have alternating hunt days so they are rested more. Check out public spots a day or two after the season ends, they are loaded up!
 

D3Smartie

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EWUEagles

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I think it would be a lot easier to get public agencies to make public land better. The corn complexes have too much money at stake and the issue is too complex to create laws against it. The reason you saw those birds there is because no one is shooting at them. Drive by the resting water at Mcnary and you will see thousands of birds. There should be more public areas that have alternating hunt days so they are rested more. Check out public spots a day or two after the season ends, they are loaded up!
That’s just not true. I know a couple guys who guide corn complexes and they shoot the same darn ponds day in and day out. They are consistently pulling 3-4 man limits daily off the same pond. Then they’ll run ice eaters or figure out how to move water through drainage and now they have bait opened up all season long.
 

D3Smartie

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trying to do anything for the benefit of the public by restricting access leads to failure IMO. Tragedy of the commons is all too prevalent.

How well do those Samish flooded fields shoot?
 

Wings Cupped

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I hunted the lodge in Othello. We did not have any success hunting geese so they took us duck hunting after lunch. We were the third group on the corn pond followed by at least one other group.Each had 5-7 people and each took a full limit. Somewhere between 140 and 200 birds were taken out of that one blind that day.
I was more interested in the pulsating pump used to keep the pond open. It created a neet little 3 to 4" swell that moved the decoys great. You'd be in the corn picking up the dead bird and you see another live bird just hover off the water and pulling the stalks down. Our 3rd group limit took about 45 minutes. I did ask how they could use that pump to keep the water open. I was told it was so that cattle could drink. While I did see 100's of mallards, I did not see one cow.
I have not been back!
 

Mallardmasher

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And how does concentrating so many waterfowl into a tiny area, not cause an explosion in problems, like avian flu….. Blind 6 at sauvie island, has dozens of dead ducks around that flooded corn pond. When the warden was asked ***, said avian flu…. I see no dead ducks on Lewis and Clark, Unless I shot them……. The rules say you can hunt over farms fields, that have been harvested and grain scattered through natural farming practices…. Is planting corn, leaving it unharvested, then flooding it, a natural farming practice…. We had social distending during our covid situation… and now they have avian flu, with no social distancing Let’s wipe them out by the thousands. Remember years ago, how many Paul had dead on the pond, during the last outbreak.. those should have been distributed along the entire flyway, not concentrated on a corn pond, way past the time they should have migrated….. remember there is a lot of greedy money in corn ponds, and money is the root of all evil…. Let them redistribute, and do what they do naturally.
 

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