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Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects

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Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects
Read the below article and then come back and let us discuss...

https://www.outdoorlife.com/...Urkop3YerPzPmi3fgj-o

I think most of you will find this article interesting. Plenty of food for thought. I know on the private property I'm a part of we tread very lightly throughout the season and only hunt it a few times a year. We keep a close eye on it and wait for the right conditions and bird numbers. I'd say overall we rest our spots 13 out of 14 days or more, until the last week of the season and then hunt as desired.

But on public land we hunt whenever/wherever we can (according to regulations) per our knowledge of the area and the previous day's scouting reports, if available. As for state's placing rules on days/times you can hunt to manage pressure, here we go again, more regs and complexity to deal with and no matter how you try and manage it some portion of the hunters are blocked out, shift workers for example. But what I really find offensive is a lot of the regs are not data driven, and in fact some of the very managers making the rules cannot produce a single quantifiable metric to assess the impacts/benefits of the regulations. They don't know! It is conjecture! There is no data to suggest on the WMAs I frequent hunter harvest across the season is any better with rest days built in. But with 100% certainty hunters are denied access and have reduced opportunity. I know that if I am not there on the day the weather fronts hits I miss the best gunning the area has to offer.

I do agree research really needs to be done in this area, but I fear there is a growing sentiment at the state levels to try and fix hunter sentiment, which we all know duck hunters are NEVER SATISFIED. Rather than placing more restrictions on hunters I'd much rather see them fix infrastructure and increase access to reduce the funneling of hunters into the same crowded areas. So yes, by all means do the research, do it right and run designed experiments, collect meaningful data and get a handle on hunter pressure dynamics, and do it over many different regions because what may be so in state X may not apply here. But for god's sake no more restrictions until you can say "We understand how this works and the benefits of the new regs are..."

Eric

Last edited by:

Eric Patterson: Feb 14, 2021, 6:43 AM
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
Interesting article, seems to ring true in many aspects.

The change in migration patterns is something all us of on the south end of the flyway have witnessed and have been talking about for the last 15+ years.
Guys still expect every season to be like the "Good old days" (which for us was 1997-2002) and its just not happening.

Having spent 15 years in ADCNR, I can tell you that the WMA biologists are between a rock & a hard place.
Balancing access, hunting pressure and the public's desire for "quality hunting" (whatever that is???) is tough.
They get complaints and grief from all sides, damned if they do, damned if they don't.


Carl
Mobile, AL
DHBP Member since 1998

"Life is too short to drink bad beer."
Disclaimer: This post and/or report is not a substantiation of or reflection on the true accuracy of the present surveying methods. It is only a report on or comment concerning local observation and/or results. Your results and observation may vary based on your location, local water conditions, food supply, weather conditions and migratory patterns "
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
Carl wrote:
Having spent 15 years in ADCNR, I can tell you that the WMA biologists are between a rock & a hard place.
Balancing access, hunting pressure and the public's desire for "quality hunting" (whatever that is???) is tough.
They get complaints and grief from all sides, damned if they do, damned if they don't.



I don't doubt that, but it comes from higher up than the area biologists from what I've been told. Further, your comment points out they need to quantify and measure the things they are trying to control with the regs, estimate the impacts, and develop defendable policy that optimizes their goal. So far all that's happened is I'm locked out on some of the best days/places and increased crowds on the days you're allowed to hunt. I asked the biologist for data on the impacts of the changes. It doesn't exist. They don't know! From where I sit the new regs are counterproductive, at best, and honestly they are approaching discriminatory for the older hunter with access being removed in some locations. Then I hear young hunters (mid 20s and younger) wishing for widespread use of draws to level the playing ground. OH HELL NO!!! These are the same folks with more ability, time, and fewer responsibilities that should be able to enjoy the perk of being on the water a lot. I just don't understand their school of thought that says "please dictate to me when/where I can hunt". When I have the opportunity to go, I want to do just that and not be encumbered by regs that lock me out, with no proof hunters benefit. Do we really want our hunting restricted to lucky draws made months, weeks, or days in advance? I don't. I want to leverage the weather, scout, find, and hunt. I don't want to be a damn number assigned and to locked to one spot if I'm "lucky" enough to be drawn.

When I started hunting the waterfowl WMAs were planted, fields flooded, roads drivable, and there was ample opportunity all season, especially for those that put in time and work. Simply put the places were maintained and accessible. Now I see less maintenance, more restrictions, and more on the horizon. It sure seems like policy makers are less interested in increasing opportunity, and more interested in piling on rules in hopes of obtaining favorable "hunter satisfaction", which happens to be an unclear and wildly variable thing. I think they need to get back to creating the best and as much huntable acreage as possible, reduce regulations, and roll with the ups and downs of hunters.

Just like the "No new taxes!" chant, I'm singing "No new regs!".

Eric

Last edited by:

Eric Patterson: Feb 16, 2021, 4:11 AM
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
Eric,

Exceptions to every generalization of course. That said, I believe there is a growing tendency to expect everything (not just duck hunting or hunting in general) to managed for us. All we should have to do is, show up at our assigned time and participate.

Show up at work, get paid. Need a question answered, ask google. Need to bake some cookies, ask goo,,,, oh wait, just buy prepackaged. Don't get me wrong, yes there are many tools available today but those tools should only enhance actual hands on effort. Just like prepacked cookies or cookie dough, too many folks want to just show up.

As to the supply and demand side of bird numbers versus hunter numbers. This carries over into all aspects of hunting and fishing. I am unsure what the answer is but I agree, more regulations is not it. As for myself, I have gravitated towards exploring less pressured, less "desirable" territory. This may not be an option everywhere.

I also find myself harvesting fewer birds, fish and other animals simply by choice. Again more of a personal situation.

Take care, Huntindave McCann Smile SHELL ROCK IA. ,,,,,, "As sailors grow older, the wiser ones move to smaller boats." Thomas Firth Jones, Multihull Voyaging
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
OK,

I've been at it since the early 1960's, when there were many more hunters and many more places to hunt. (I found the graphs in the article very interesting), and have hunted 3 0f the 4 flyways.

IMO things went down hill much faster, with LESS hunters, with the advent of the September Canada Goose season, and then the Spring Snow Goose season, electronic callers, unplugged shotguns, robo ducks, drones, etc. Damn near a free for all, kill em at all cost.

If you do not think that has a affect on waterfowl of all kinds think again.

It takes very little shooting before all types of wildlife wise up, and make adjustments to survive.


Case in point. When my hunting partners and I first began going to the Canadian Provinces there were not thundering hoards of USA hunters,non resident "guides", and trailers full of gear, etc.

Yet we found the birds were super sensitive to hunting and calling. In fact huge flocks of Mallards (many hundreds) rarely did any calling at all. If ya wanted to tell them. Hey We Are Over Here!

Just start calling and they got the hell OUT, and there were no other hunters within many, many miles of where we were hunting.


Way back when, on many public areas hunters were limited to the number of shells they could carry (as few a 10), and use (some places still so). You were only allowed to leave the blind to retrieve birds.

Did that help reduce pressure? It sure did not hurt.


Also larger limits and more seasons = a helluva lot more pressure. That is a no brainer.

We endured three bird limits and short seasons. How do ya think that would go over today?


I have been Blessed to SEE my waterfowling dreams become reality. Never do I forget that.

Yet even back in the "blood in the eye" days, seeing the birds was much more important than killing them.

Keeping score, and using it as the way one measures success is for games. Hunting is not a game.


Boils down to how one was taught, and how one bares responsibility.

Hunters can choose the days we want to hunt during the season, (poachers do not care). The hunted cannot, they bare the brunt.

Someone shoots at you and you survive, you remember that. Do you really believe that birds, and animals do not?


When folks get their mind right. Be less selfish, and more thoughtful, then things will improve.


I recently read a good article about how the automobile changed hunting and gave opportunity to blue collar folks. Also the fact that top three decoy factories were in Detroit, the Motor City, and that was not by happenstance....



my 2 cents











"Art does not reproduce what is visible - but makes things visible." ~ Paul Klee, artist, 1920
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
I would generally agree with the article but would point out, as others have, that when it comes to public this is all but impossible. So much of the better public land in my area gets hunted HARD. If I rest it one day, it will make no difference at all since other guys will be right where my boat would have been.

I'll admit that I hunted a lot of days this year. I tried to spread out my impact over as many different places as I know. I'd rest my best spots and then drive by them on my way home and see other trucks there. It made me think that perhaps I should just hunt my best spots each time I go out... But I don't. Part of the fun is going to different areas and seeing new scenery anyway.

Those of us who hunt deer as well as ducks know how important it is to not overhunt any specific spot. Save your best deer stands for peak rut conditions with the perfect wind. This is widely known and accepted. However, there are always exceptions. Just yesterday I read that a new NY record bow kill was recorded this past season. Right in the article it says that the lucky hunter "hunted the same treestand in a treeline overlooking the recently harvested cornfield every day for two weeks." This goes against everything I know about deer hunting, especially with a bow. Yet this hunter killed the largest deer ever taken with a bow in NY by doing exactly that https://www.fieldandstream.com/...Jn2-1c-1G7IGt-l5hQgi
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
There may be places where use is so heavy that some way to limit numbers or hunting days is necessary.

Other options should be considered first. Keeping public access widely available should be at the top of the list.

But so should measures the reduce the "footprint" of hunters that are out there. I've written before about the "no permanent blinds" rule for Maine's Merrymeeting Bay. That area also includes a headway speed only rule in all area except the marked navigation channel.

On trout ponds, carry-in only access will result in less pressure than a trailered boat launch. Make the carry 1/4 mile and use drops a lot more. No motors or horsepower limits also cut down on apparent use. 20 people fishing out of canoes and rowboats cover a lot less water than the same 20 fishing out of powered boats--and create a very different fishing experience.

In the ducking realm mud motors, air boats, jet drives, motorized decoys, and large decoy spreads are useful tools that extend our reach and are useful tools, but they can make it feel more crowded and disturb the birds more.

"At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant."
— Aldo Leopold
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
It wasn't that long ago that there were very limited bag limits on Long Island. I remember 1987 had a 40 day season with 4 ducks per day. One black duck only. That certainly reduced the hunting pressure.

Joe
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
Vince Pagliaroli wrote:

We endured three bird limits and short seasons. How do ya think that would go over today?


I, for one, would be fine with a 3 bird limit. If I shot my 3 birds and could have shot 6, or 20, that's a great day. I think the experience of the whole hunt provides a lasting, memorable reward. A huge pile of dead, bloody ducks provides fleeting satisfaction. I'd rather, and generally do, remember all the live birds over the decoys, not the wet pile. The internet and social media is definitely moving us in the opposite direction.

Mike
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
I will only make the following observations.

1. There were more hunters prior to 1970 than now, but there may be differences in how often hunters went hunting and how competitive they felt
2. There are many fewer areas/acres available for hunting both public and private, leading to crowding and competition
3. Technological changes in hunting clothes, gear, boats, motors, trucks, motorized decoys, gps, cellphones, etc allow hunters to hunt more effectively, find and go into areas previously inaccessible, stay in the field longer, etc.
4. Information sharing through cellphones, cameras, internet, webpages, social media apps/sites/pages/channels has dramatically increased knowledge of techniques, locations, success rates, product reliability, etc about every aspect of water fowling, where prior to say 1985 completely changing many aspects of duck hunting irrevocably
5. Ducks have always responded to disturbance and avoid areas where they are disturbed regularly, there is ample scientific study and management experience, its not all anecdotal
6. Bag limits and season lengths have not been this liberal, this long and this stable since before the 1934 dust bowl inspired restrictions such as the 3 shell limit, live decoy prohibitions, 10 gauge limit
7. Knowledge about management of populations and habitats has greatly increased in the last 50 years, managers better understand landscapes, hunting effects, sustainability of populations; however, research into hunter satisfaction remains years behind
8. Agency expenses have exceeded budget increases with few or no new sources of funding limiting the intensity of management, research and acquisition of new areas for hunting
9. Expectations from other segments of society have increased about management decisions of populations, habitats, regulations, acceptable behavior/ethics leading to a decrease in the influence of the duck hunting community
10. Natural resources management has become much more difficult because all of the above

Eric, although its somewhat dated here is an annotated bibliography literature on the effects of disturbance on waterfowl. https://books.google.com/...iography&f=false
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
Eric,

Excellent article and written by a friend of mine Joe Genzel. I've actually had this exact same conversation over at our Lodge on Long Island, NY around the table with Joe when he was editor of Wildfowl Magazine. Joe writes his mind, telling it like it is! I can't express how rare that is these days in the marketing world of hunting we live in surrounded by social media highlighting the success of "the kill" "the piles" & "the media branding". I know Wildfowl Magazine for sure has a very different view as mentioned.. I guess you could say i'm guilty as well having glorified hunts though my own productions but, we've seemed to of lost touch with the root cause of why we all love to do this. I can't tell you how many clients I've had so concerned about the kill, or the success of a hunt's outcome. Our patterns have definitely educated the birds where I find myself but couldn't agree with you more on the transition of focus to meaningful data. We as a generation I guess myself included being in the 90's LOL! have made hunting more of a "Business marketing entity" rather then a means of relaxing and enjoyment. I think Social media has played a huge role in that aspect as many of the young new beginner hunters only see the glorified days online through a phone screen rather then the days we find equal satisfaction watching the birds work in a sunrise possibly without even taking a shot. I see it even at the decoy shows, my generation and the millennial's after me value the corked birds far less then plastics they see advertised by famed hunters like Tony V, Duck Dynsaty etc.. it's interesting to see as we progress season after season.

Long Island, NY
http://www.Island-Outdoors.com

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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
Brad Bortner wrote:
I will only make the following observations.

1. There were more hunters prior to 1970 than now, but there may be differences in how often hunters went hunting and how competitive they felt
2. There are many fewer areas/acres available for hunting both public and private, leading to crowding and competition
3. Technological changes in hunting clothes, gear, boats, motors, trucks, motorized decoys, gps, cellphones, etc allow hunters to hunt more effectively, find and go into areas previously inaccessible, stay in the field longer, etc.
4. Information sharing through cellphones, cameras, internet, webpages, social media apps/sites/pages/channels has dramatically increased knowledge of techniques, locations, success rates, product reliability, etc about every aspect of water fowling, where prior to say 1985 completely changing many aspects of duck hunting irrevocably
5. Ducks have always responded to disturbance and avoid areas where they are disturbed regularly, there is ample scientific study and management experience, its not all anecdotal
6. Bag limits and season lengths have not been this liberal, this long and this stable since before the 1934 dust bowl inspired restrictions such as the 3 shell limit, live decoy prohibitions, 10 gauge limit
7. Knowledge about management of populations and habitats has greatly increased in the last 50 years, managers better understand landscapes, hunting effects, sustainability of populations; however, research into hunter satisfaction remains years behind
8. Agency expenses have exceeded budget increases with few or no new sources of funding limiting the intensity of management, research and acquisition of new areas for hunting
9. Expectations from other segments of society have increased about management decisions of populations, habitats, regulations, acceptable behavior/ethics leading to a decrease in the influence of the duck hunting community
10. Natural resources management has become much more difficult because all of the above

Eric, although its somewhat dated here is an annotated bibliography literature on the effects of disturbance on waterfowl. https://books.google.com/...iography&f=false



There's a lot of food for thought packed in your post. I've been reading that annotated bibliography for over an hour now and there is certainly some interesting data out there. A lot on geese, breeding waterfowl, boat, commercial fisherman, anglers, hunters, and other group's impacts on waterfowl in widely variable conditions. Number 73 sounds really tasty to me. But so far I've not encountered anything in depth that address recovery rates of waterfowl usage when hunters frighten/disturb. In simple terms, for example, after 4 days of disruption caused by hunters will three days of rest result in significant rebound of duck numbers, enough to offset missed opportunities created by the closure? I was told our reg additions were meant to increase hunter opportunity while provide benefit to wintering waterfowl. Perhaps I'm putting too much emphasis on the former and not enough on the latter.

Eric

Last edited by:

Eric Patterson: Feb 15, 2021, 2:32 PM
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
Eric Patterson wrote:
Brad Bortner wrote:
I will only make the following observations.

1. There were more hunters prior to 1970 than now, but there may be differences in how often hunters went hunting and how competitive they felt
2. There are many fewer areas/acres available for hunting both public and private, leading to crowding and competition
3. Technological changes in hunting clothes, gear, boats, motors, trucks, motorized decoys, gps, cellphones, etc allow hunters to hunt more effectively, find and go into areas previously inaccessible, stay in the field longer, etc.
4. Information sharing through cellphones, cameras, internet, webpages, social media apps/sites/pages/channels has dramatically increased knowledge of techniques, locations, success rates, product reliability, etc about every aspect of water fowling, where prior to say 1985 completely changing many aspects of duck hunting irrevocably
5. Ducks have always responded to disturbance and avoid areas where they are disturbed regularly, there is ample scientific study and management experience, its not all anecdotal
6. Bag limits and season lengths have not been this liberal, this long and this stable since before the 1934 dust bowl inspired restrictions such as the 3 shell limit, live decoy prohibitions, 10 gauge limit
7. Knowledge about management of populations and habitats has greatly increased in the last 50 years, managers better understand landscapes, hunting effects, sustainability of populations; however, research into hunter satisfaction remains years behind
8. Agency expenses have exceeded budget increases with few or no new sources of funding limiting the intensity of management, research and acquisition of new areas for hunting
9. Expectations from other segments of society have increased about management decisions of populations, habitats, regulations, acceptable behavior/ethics leading to a decrease in the influence of the duck hunting community
10. Natural resources management has become much more difficult because all of the above

Eric, although its somewhat dated here is an annotated bibliography literature on the effects of disturbance on waterfowl. https://books.google.com/...iography&f=false



There's a lot of food for thought packed in your post. I've been reading that annotated bibliography for over an hour now and there is certainly some interesting data out there. A lot on geese, breeding waterfowl, boat, commercial fisherman, anglers, hunters, and other group's impacts on waterfowl in widely variable conditions. Number 73 sounds really tasty to me. But so far I've not encountered anything in depth that address recovery rates of waterfowl usage when hunters frighten/disturb. In simple terms, for example, after 4 days of disruption caused by hunters will three days of rest result in significant rebound of duck numbers, enough to offset missed opportunities created by the closure? I was told our reg additions were meant to increase hunter opportunity while provide benefit to wintering waterfowl. Perhaps I'm putting too much emphasis on the former and not enough on the latter.

Eric


Eric,

I?ve been reading a lot about this recently. Seems people are unhappy with certain aspects of their own success and other hunting experiences. Seems there is a movement to try to reduce access to hunting to all but those that are privileged to private property and those that have unlimited access to hunt public property whenever those places would be able to be hunted. Public hunting land and those refuges designed to hold wintering birds are bought almost exclusively with monies generated by hunting. This includes properties like ?Habitat Flats? (just including that property since everyone seems to be wanting to dump on Tony vandemore for marketing his business. His business and others like it provide massive amounts of wintering area and feeding grounds crucial to the health of the duck population. Without ability to hunt birds the way we do now places like this wouldn?t exist and would likely be turned into upland hunting ground or worse, a golf course.

As an east coast guy who hunts 100% public land I am jealous of guys like Tony but am able to appreciate how important operations like his are. My fear is we are going to allow the idealists of the hunting community come in and arbitrarily change the public hunting laws in the hope of them getting to have a few ?bangers? a year and pushing out the common folks who only get to hunt when ever they can and are happy just killing a couple birds each time they go out. We are going to regulate ourselves to the point that we lose the few hunters we have left and no longer have the ability to lobby law makers or purchase or maintain public ground
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
 
Is the fact that a whole lotta folks have fled the northern states for warmer states, and lots of them hunt and fish a factor?

Population, distribution, and all the elements that go with this dramatic change addressed.


Are wintering areas under more pressure than ever before, with less habitat?

Toss in the competitive nature attached to hunting & fishing these days, and ya got one helluva nasty stew.


Appears to be a teeter totter balancing act for all wildlife agencies, with much more weight on one side than the other.

Add the "defund" mind set that now has a grip on wildlife officers and agencies also, and yer mind spins.

Without birds all the opportunity in the world does not matter.











"Art does not reproduce what is visible - but makes things visible." ~ Paul Klee, artist, 1920
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
Vince , IMO you hit the nail on the head. Without birds all the opportunities in the world it won't matter. I personally think they should lower the bag
limit.
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
Thomas I?m curious as to how lowering the limits will solve the problem at hand? Most species of ducks are increasing in population or holding steady. The birds not moving south has nothing to do with a lack of birds but with a shifting land scape and weather pattern. The only thing lowering the limit will do is lower the number of hunters and subsequently the amount of money being spent on habitat, both on the wintering and the breeding grounds
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
Will,
So Are you saying if you lowered the limit on waterfowl to 4 ducks instead of 6 bird bag limit it will lower the number of hunters?
Why is that?
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
I posted the same article on a SC duck hunting forum. It is interesting to see the different opinions of us from different geographical locations. Here was my response to what I witness here in SC:


"What is interesting is the sentiment from many SC hunters about absolutely not wanting "restrictions" on our public waters. We want our freedoms and unfettered 24 / 7 access so we can camp out, hold the hole days in advance of opening day, scout incessantly and find "tons of birds" a week before opening day and then say "they left" or must have gotten "pushed out" by opening day and still absolutely refuse to do anything to make a change....and we'll do it all over again this next duck season.

What's even more ironic............these same folks will load up all of their waterfowl gear and run to AR, who restricts the numbers of days an OOS can hunt on public waters and hunt public waters that have strict horsepower restrictions, strict time restrictions on when they can access to hunt and strict time restrictions on when they must leave. I imagine shell limitations, prop size limitations, etc. Does anyone else see the double standard or is it just me? I believe it's a sad state of affairs that we're constantly blaming no food, sky busting, camping out days in advance of opening day, 24 / 7 access and we can't band together to make a difference. Yet we will continue to go to restricted well managed STA's in FL, restricted flooded timber in AR, etc.

The enormous benefit that private waterfowl impoundments have in SC are 3 fold: food, limited hunters and less / controlled pressure. High numbers of ducks = higher rate of success, lower numbers of ducks = ability to limit and control numbers of hunters, hunting days / times, etc. Even when they run out of food they're still providing cover, food in the form of invertebrates and refuge from the constant harassment they receive on public waters which can afford them the opportunity to still kill ducks.

Sadly, SC public duck hunters will keep doing what we do under the guise of nobody is going to restrict our rights to hunt and access and we'll continue to go out of state where we embrace restricted rights and access."
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
This was an interesting article Eric and a topic that has been very hotly debated several times over the last 15 years in FL. There was a lot of hate and discontent between hunters and sadly, some friendships were lost because of differing view points and some peoples' "my way or the highway" mentality over this. "Quality" is different for a lot of people and therefore I know it is tough for resource managers to mange for quality.

I have hunted FL now for 21 years and find it can be a very confusing, difficult place to hunt (mostly as far as regulations go, but sometimes also locales). We already have A LOT of regulations. There are the state regs and then it seems like every WMA has its own set of regulations and seasons and days and times that can be hunted. It has gotten me into trouble when I made a mistake and hunted on the wrong day because I got the WMAs mixed up. I have been a lot more careful, but I still find myself worrying when I show up to the boat ramp and I don't see anyone there, is it because there are no ducks here or am I here on the wrong day? The regulations can be so confusing and difficult that when I travel out of state and find that that states' WMAs don't have the same level of "let's make this as difficult and confusing as possible" (to my mind), that I usually end up calling the fish and game dept of that state just to make sure that I am reading their regulations correctly. I am already familiar with waaaaay too many rules and regulations. Some are good, some I look at as ways to just keep hunters from being able to hunt.

There was a mention of the STAs (Stormwater Treatment Areas...basically water farms trying to make water cleaner before being released into the Everglades) down in south FL as places to hunt. It is a quota permit system that does allow for hunters but the South FL Water Management District would be very, very, very, very, very, very happy to see hunters not allowed there ever again. The SFLWMD seems fairly anti hunting. The United Waterfowlers of FL lobbied for many, many years to get hunting opportunities opened up on the STAs. It started out small, then got expanded quite extensively to having a couple of hunts on most every STA. There were morning and afternoon hunts allowed on Saturdays and Sundays (and I think Wednesdays but I can't recall that for sure) and now there are also some Friday hunts available. There was a walk in line available to people, (at first first come, first served, and then through a lotto system and now to a quota system even on redraws that appears quite complicated though I have not attempted to figure out) for hunters to fill the spots for no show quota hunters. There were and can be TONS of ducks. For many years, the hydrilla flats were incredible. There was food out the wazoo. Over the years, various STAs have become closer and closer to cattail monocultures. They aren't in the duck business, they are in the cleaning the water business, but in doing so they tend to attract a lot of ducks. We are just lucky that a few people lobbied very hard to get the STAs open.

So why are the STAs so good? Because the hunting is limited or because of the huge amount of food that is available or because the overall public pressure (not just hunting) is low? Or all of the above? I tend towards low overall pressure and LOTS of food. I have hunted public properties in FL that are no motor areas that when they had food out the wazoo like the STAs, the properties could and did handle hunting all day, all week by hunters. Since it was a walk in or paddle in only place, the pressure on the ducks were less because there were some places hunters just couldn't or most didn't want to put in the effort to get to. Were more ducks wary at the end of the season? Sure, but they still stuck around in the same general location and could be successfully hunted. You just had to hunt harder or smarter.

I will say this. FL has lost a lot of lakes that can be hunted (or even if you will see birds feeding/loafing) since I have been hunting for various reasons: development, loss of habitat, spraying of aquatic vegetation just before the season starts to name a few. That makes the lakes and rivers that are available more populated with hunters, but I don't think that here in FL the hunters are the biggest problem to pressure on ducks. You go down to central FL (and this is probably true for much of south FL too) and there isn't a day (except maybe a hurricane) where there aren't at least half a dozen airboat tours running most of the day. People in go fast boats cruising around. People fishing. People hunting. People out on the water wanting to experience FL (whether they are tourists or locals), so even on lakes or rivers that may be chock full of food, there are few places for ducks to go that can rest. I HATE airboats (except when I am on them) because they are loud, they are obnoxious, they can get into seemingly every little skinny backwater nook and cranny in FL. It's very hard for a duck to rest somewhere or want to go feed somewhere when they are constantly being harassed, even in the backwater nook and crannies. All that to say that I understand and can appreciate putting regulations on when you can hunt WMAs and sometimes even public land (even if I don't like them because it limits me in when I can actually hunt). They provide places for ducks in FL to rest at least. Other than private land.

I don't mind horsepower restrictions during season or on specific WMAs, dislike the you can only hunt certain days of the week WMAs (but appreciate the why), think that shell restrictions are dumb and really don't want to see even more restrictions placed on duck hunters here in FL. We are already heavily regulated and I am not sure that more regulations will increase the quality of the hunt for me. I already have to double and triple check just to make sure that I am on the right WMA on the right day. Plus, once we have more regulations placed on hunters it is VERY HARD if not IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of those regulations. I sometimes worry that FL hunters are trying to regulate themselves out of the opportunity to actually have hunting opportunities.

I understand quite well not wanting to go to quota permits for your hunting areas or even lowering the number of days available to hunt an area. There is a WMA down in central FL that has always had a walk in line for filling out the spots that no shows left available. At first it was first come, first served and it was great. Yes, I took advantage of that opportunity. I took days off work sometimes to wait in line in order to have a chance at hunting that WMA. They had blackbellies like crazy for a few years and it was worth it to me to spend time waiting for the chance to hunt blackbellies. But hunters are our own worst enemy. People were leaving trash. They couldn't be bothered to go use the public toilet (as nasty as that particular toilet is) and some people actually would poop off the guard rail on the side of the road but left TP and poop actually hanging off the guard rail. They had fires (that were illegal). In essence, a few of the nasty pigs screwed up an opportunity for all. The property owner got fed up with that and now there is a lotto system, under the guise of now it is more fair to all. When in reality, it is just better for locals. I was WILLING to drive three and a half hours to wait in line for a guaranteed chance to get on the property. Even when I visit Debby now, I have to decide just how willing I am to drive south about 90 minutes to get in on a lotto chance that if I don't pull anything, I just wasted time and gas and getting up early for a chance to hunt. The only people that the in-person lotto is truly good for is for locals. At least with the first come, first served situation if you were truly willing to put in the time, even someone from Pensacola could have had a good chance at hunting that WMA. That was way more fair than a lotto system.

I saw another limited day property in north FL go to quota only hunting. It was sometimes a good location to hunt, other times devoid of ducks but in going to quota only, there are A LOT of people that have been locked out of hunting in N. FL. I don't think it has done anything "good" for the ducks because the place was already limited to only a few days of hunting, but it has certainly hurt hunter opportunity. The extra rules have certainly not enhanced this hunters' satisfaction. It at least was close enough to Tallahassee that I would have considered going over there to hunt with my friends in Jax, but now without a permit what's the point?

I will be fair to FWC and they have tried to offer multiple opportunities for a person without a quota permit to get one. Here, if you pull a permit somewhere and realize you can't or won't use it, you can return it and every week a person can put in for the returned permits. So someone might have a minute second or third chance to pull a duck permit for somewhere in the state. FWC has certainly tried to do everything they can to make sure those permits don't go unused. The waterfowl season is also separated into three separate draws so if you are INCREDIBLY lucky, you might be able to pull three quota permits without having to resort to returned permit drawings. And they will allow you to pull a total of five duck quota permits in a season, to include redraws. They do provide opportunity, but there are a lot of people out there who can go years without pulling a quota permit. I've never drawn more than two (including any redraws) in any one season and often don't even get one. Steve had better luck than I did at pulling.

For me, the changes that have been made to the quota systems has changed how/how often I hunt ducks. I know another part of how often I duck hunt has changed since I moved to Tallahassee but that is partly because Leon county (the entire county) is very restricted on when we can hunt. Pressure always seems to be high when I do get out and more and more it seems like the birds generally don't show up until later and later in the season. We didn't get a really good push of ringnecks (woodducks and ringnecks are the bread and butter around here for the most part) in until the end of the season. Like the last week of the season. I'm not generally interested in spending time on crowded lakes (even on the motor restricted lakes), on the few days we can hunt, sitting wondering where the ducks are. I would rather take my dog for a walk in the woods looking for that elusive quail or woodcock or doves and have a chance or two on flushing up woodducks.

I do miss duck hunting as frequently as I used to. I love it incredibly still. I love watching the sun rise over hand carved decoys. I miss having my lab beside me and watching as a little flock of teal come in with their feet down into our decoys or a flock of bluebills screaming overhead. But the rules, newer quota regulations, general lack of birds until late in the season and heavy pressure makes me rethink how to spend the time off that I have. I'm still hunting, just not duck hunting as much.

Social media certainly hasn't helped things, but in general I think hunters prove yet again that they are their own worst enemies through social media. They tend to squabble between each other about "quality" and will push for what they want (fewer days so that they can maybe possibly perhaps kill big ducks vs more days, more opportunities to be on the water and so what if it is teal and ringnecks vs pintail as an example) instead of sitting down and saying, okay some of us are interested in some changes so let us find a way to come to a compromise between the various hunting groups BEFORE we go to the resource managers asking for changes. Show a united front as opposed to looking like a bunch of squabbling children. It rarely ends well for hunters that way.

As Brad said, there are a lot of other people putting pressure on resource managers that are not hunters. Hunters need to figure out a way to get some of those groups to work with them and it doesn't happen by posting bloody hero shots. You wanna post pictures? I don't mind that at all and think people should be proud of their harvest (whether it is one duck, a limit, a coot or two or a world record bull elk). Take tasteful pictures. Leave the blood and gore out of it. Don't paint yourself with blood. We will have a very hard time getting people to support us if people post bloody, gory pictures of the game they harvested. People are sensitive to that these days. Right or wrong that is reality. Most people aren't hunters anymore, heck I would say that most people don't even really know many hunters anymore. As we are well aware, there is a huge disconnect for a lot of people on where meat even comes from. Displaying ourselves and our trophies in what could be considered a "grotesque" fashion will not win us points with people that could be allies.

Hunters really need to work extra hard to get the people who are ambivalent to hunting on our sides. We will NEVER get support from anti-hunters so we shouldn't waste our breath trying but there is a huge population that we could reach that could be allies. I have seen far too many "discussions" between hunters and non-hunters devolve into name calling and both sides calling each other stupid. We will NEVER get the support of people who could possibly be allies if we can't rise above our own childishness. Many times those conversations could have resulted in at least tentative allies if real conversation could have been had. In my opinion, this is where I have seen social media hurt us the most. Certainly people share spots publicly that shouldn't be shared, the tv heroes whacking and stacking them certainly doesn't portray reality, but I am not sure that is as damaging as the image that has been and continues to be portrayed in how we deal with each other, people of differing mindsets and even in how we display our trophies. Again as Brad said, there are a lot of other people than just hunters that put pressure on already stressed resource managers and hunters as a group have been doing themselves a major disservice in handling interactions between groups that could possibly be on our side, or at least not against us.

I know that really isn't what the article was discussing but I think it is just as valid regarding where hunting will be headed in the future.

Dani
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Re: Interesting Article From Outdoor Life On Duck Hunting Pressure and Effects In reply to
 
Concerning waterfowl hunting in the 1960's & 1970's. There were plenty of hunters during the entire season.

Why?

Many waterfowlers worked in manufacturing jobs, and mills. Each fall and winter worked slowed, and layoffs happened. Also those working afternoon and midnight shifts hunted before or after work. Many took vacation during the season, and some even got 13 weeks off (to provide work for others).

Shorter seasons and lower bag limits than today DID NOT stop hunters at all. We were thankful for what we got.


Also remember very few states had Sunday hunting. So the birds got a rest, as did the hunters. Monday was always the best day to hunt.

Only time there were "fewer" hunters was during deer season, and when weather conditions were so bad ya took yer life in yer own hands by going.


Plus the were many Waterfowling Clubs, for every class of income. Many of these clubs are now Public Hunting Areas, or have been developed and lost.


During that time Goose Hunting really took off in more places than ever, and that took many hunters out of marshes & water areas, and into fields.

Many things about waterfowl hunting were changing.

Wildlife officers and management were in the fore front, and regulations enforced. We either hunted by the rules or paid the price.


They were not the Good Old Days, or the Not So Good Days.


















"Art does not reproduce what is visible - but makes things visible." ~ Paul Klee, artist, 1920