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Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting #7726374 01/23/20 04:48 PM
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Discussion Topic:

It seems like there is more pressure on the birds and causing them to change habits. Not just here in N TX, but reading waterfowl surveys for KS, MO, IL, AR, LA and hearing/reading reports for CO, OK, and TX. All of this info has the same overall theme; Too much Pressure. Birds spreading out or congregating on refuges, using different habitat, going nocturnal to feed, etc...

Anyone else seeing/hearing the same?

I always hear that we should push season back, but that won't do anything in reality except hurt breeding success. Studies have been done that show pair bonding starts as early as December and really starts to flourish in January. These studies have also shown that once pair bonding has occurred, if for some reason, a mate is lost that it is harder to find another mate and be successful in breeding. Which all of that hurts the overall population, obviously. That's why the Federal Frameworks won't allow hunting past end of January. There are some that believe we are hunting too late, from a pair bonding/breeding success rate, as it is now.

What's y'alls thoughts to reduce pressure on the birds, if you believe there is too much pressure?



Here's some ideas:

-Shorten overall season days to 30/45 days. Have 2 splits that last 12 days each, same split structure as we used to have in North Zone and currently have in South Zone, except to have 2 in lieu of 1 split.
-Reduce limit to 3/4 birds in conjunction with shorter season
-Allow non-huntable refuges to be hunted. On a rotation basis, possibly. Don't think it's a good idea to allow open hunting on the refuges as they need a 'safe space', but rotate and allow them to be hunted 1-2 days/week.


I really believe that shorter season, reduced bag limit, and multiple splits would enhance the overall quality of hunting. Personally, I would take that over what we've been experiencing. My log books and observations are showing that duck hunting has been on the decline for the last 8yrs or so. We've had all sorts of different weather in that time span, so while weather is a factor I don't believe it to be the 'end all be all'. The biggest change I've seen is more pressure on the birds. Shorter seasons with multiple splits would allow the birds to be more rested, less pressure on them, and quality of hunting would improve.

What do y'all think?

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726378 01/23/20 04:54 PM
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This is far and away the best year duck hunting I have had here in North Texas. While I have had better days hunting in years past, this year the birds were more consistent and allowed for hunting earlier in the season when my water usually doesn't hold birds. With that being said I try to rotate and typically won't hunt the same spot more than once a week.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: Leonardo] #7726409 01/23/20 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Leonardo
This is far and away the best year duck hunting I have had here in North Texas. While I have had better days hunting in years past, this year the birds were more consistent and allowed for hunting earlier in the season when my water usually doesn't hold birds. With that being said I try to rotate and typically won't hunt the same spot more than once a week.


Leonardo, I'm not basing this on just my hunting this year. It is a trend I have been seeing for the last 8yrs or so and reading/talking to people throughout the Central and MS flyways. This year my birds per man average is higher than its been in 5yrs....have hunted less this year, but have had some good hunts. Can't really base the above on 1 season, though.

I would bet you are hunting ponds around N TX area? This year the pond hunting has been better than the last few years. I believe that's due to the reservoirs not having the food and lots of pressure. My deer lease tanks have been good for limits of gadwall/wigeon all year as well and earlier than normal.

Just some thoughts and things to ponder on...

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726436 01/23/20 05:33 PM
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I think you make some good points.

I would be okay with a 40 day/4 duck season, and here's why.
In that state of waterfowl discussion they had, the biologist paraphrased a study that was done. People are happy with 1 duck, they're happier with 2, and even happier with 3. Once they get to 4 ducks, they're pretty elated, but after that, the happiness doesn't go up much. Also, a lot of hunters hunt for limits these days instead of the memories, bonding, etc. So if you drop the limit to 4, you're going to have a lot more happier people since it's an easier goal to obtain. And if it is 4 birds instead of 6, a lot of people will probably be more selective with what they shoot.

Pressure has definitely changed birds. If you dont think so, go to your public hunting spots a week after season closes and see what happens.

Mud motors have been a cause to that pressure change too when you're talking about hunting flooded timber. Those surface drive motors are loud, and would you want something like that constantly buzzing through your bedroom. If you're out and about, listen to the difference of an outboard compared to a surface drive. An outboard comes in and fades out. A surface drive can be heard from a lot farther away, and the fact that every tom, dick, and harry have one, well it adds up.

We also just had the post down below about scouting. The correct way is to drive, listen, sneak in. A lot of people are just going to roar through everything, jump birds, and say they found them. Those birds are now up, and they've been jumped 3 times already, how many times are they going to stay there before they say screw this and move somewhere else.

I think doing a draw type hunt on the refuges would work too. You only allow it for 2 weekends and only a certain amount can hunt. Birds need safe places to go to, but pushing a few around here and there isn't a bad idea IMO.


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Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726476 01/23/20 06:16 PM
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Technology has made it easier for dumber people to get to more ducks. Scouting is easier, and boats can get you anywhere now. Other than that, hunters are hunting and ducks are surviving, not much has changed in a long time I don’t think

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726537 01/23/20 07:22 PM
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Didn’t they just add one of the split weeks onto the front of the season? So, we start a week later but only have a one week split at the end of November?

I think that works fine, and is kind of a six of one, half dozen of the other, when compared to a two week split in the middle in the context of helping bird numbers.


Originally Posted By: bill oxner
I just turned it on . I was looking bird dogs in the butt this morning.


Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726571 01/23/20 08:09 PM
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For us old timers numbers are up. These are the good old days. Designating waterfowl resting areas in prime habitat off limits to hunting and stopping shooting hours at noon are tried and true measures to help keep birds in areas with the habitat to sustain them. The biggest thing is putting money into habitat improvement in your region rather than bitching about those who improve habitat within their regions.


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Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726578 01/23/20 08:18 PM
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In my area, Rock Island TX, the pressure has increased every year. I think this is a major reason for the lack of birds the last two years. We have plenty of birds on opening days, but afterwards, they dwindle. In our area many have come nocturnal feeding at night and going, I think, to many of the gravel pits in our area to roost during the day. This is because of the pressure. We are also located adjacent to a duck club who have so many members I think they get frustrated and sky blast. We are talking about hundreds of shots per hunting day. Also, when I was younger there were rest areas for the birds. Some of the outfitters would flood some os their rice or fallow fields and designate them as refuges. Now it seems, on our prairie, every body of water is hunted. Lack of birds is also attributed to changing farming practices and a weaker migration. Jut my thoughts.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726701 01/23/20 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by RiverRunner
Originally Posted by Leonardo
This is far and away the best year duck hunting I have had here in North Texas. While I have had better days hunting in years past, this year the birds were more consistent and allowed for hunting earlier in the season when my water usually doesn't hold birds. With that being said I try to rotate and typically won't hunt the same spot more than once a week.


Leonardo, I'm not basing this on just my hunting this year. It is a trend I have been seeing for the last 8yrs or so and reading/talking to people throughout the Central and MS flyways. This year my birds per man average is higher than its been in 5yrs....have hunted less this year, but have had some good hunts. Can't really base the above on 1 season, though.

I would bet you are hunting ponds around N TX area? This year the pond hunting has been better than the last few years. I believe that's due to the reservoirs not having the food and lots of pressure. My deer lease tanks have been good for limits of gadwall/wigeon all year as well and earlier than normal.

Just some thoughts and things to ponder on...


You are correct. I didn't intend for my sole experience to negate your position or research. Just to show how one persons experience may lead to another persons better experience in a different manner. Doesn't mean anything needs to be done.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726729 01/23/20 10:36 PM
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some of my thoughts

Don't let guides shoot ducks while guiding clients. Did you know its illegal for a guide to keep fish/a limit of fish in Texas while guiding clients. Only the clients can keep fish. Why should ducks/waterfowl be any different. The purpose of the guide is to put the clients on birds not for them to become a paid hunter.

I want to see the industry do a better job of promoting ethics and values. Studies show that young hens are most susceptible to spinning wing decoys. Thats fine. There are two options, outlaw spinning wing decoys or limit there use. Or what i think the better option is to promote and encourage hunters to take drakes. You don't have to shoot everything just to make a pile. its ok to go home a few ducks less than to shoot some hens just to "limit". you don't go shoot a young doe when your looking to fill the freezer. Hate to say it but a lot of duck hunters don't even eat the ducks they harvest. so other than ego does it really matter if you don't limit.

I want to see the surface drive industry start working on making their units quieter.

i'm open for opening up refuges for 3-5 hunting weekends a season for a select number of hunters. make it a draw system, $10 a hunter, the lucky hunters picked get to go hunt.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: 2flyfish4] #7726739 01/23/20 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by 2flyfish4
some of my thoughts


I want to see the industry do a better job of promoting ethics and values. Studies show that young hens are most susceptible to spinning wing decoys. Thats fine. There are two options, outlaw spinning wing decoys or limit there use. Or what i think the better option is to promote and encourage hunters to take drakes. You don't have to shoot everything just to make a pile. its ok to go home a few ducks less than to shoot some hens just to "limit". you don't go shoot a young doe when your looking to fill the freezer. Hate to say it but a lot of duck hunters don't even eat the ducks they harvest. so other than ego does it really matter if you don't limit.

I want to see the surface drive industry start working on making their units quieter.




Originally Posted by 2flyfish4
X2, its public land. Gotta take the good with the bad. It is what it is. If you dont like it move to private land.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: 2flyfish4] #7726752 01/23/20 11:09 PM
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[quote=2flyfish4

I want to see the surface drive industry start working on making their units quieter.

[/quote]

I think that's possible too, look what Honda did with generators.
And it's not even the exhaust really, those motors are just loud to begin with.


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Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726814 01/24/20 12:15 AM
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Naaa, just global warming.

In the last 30 years, most Texas outfitters have either quit or moved north to oklahoma, Missouri and kansas.
Oklahoma and kansas is where the birds are now. They have liberal limits, plenty of public, more food, better weather and lots of days to hunt. Them 3 states are the ones with the most birds shot. Period.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: 68A] #7726881 01/24/20 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by 68A
Originally Posted by 2flyfish4
some of my thoughts


I want to see the industry do a better job of promoting ethics and values. Studies show that young hens are most susceptible to spinning wing decoys. Thats fine. There are two options, outlaw spinning wing decoys or limit there use. Or what i think the better option is to promote and encourage hunters to take drakes. You don't have to shoot everything just to make a pile. its ok to go home a few ducks less than to shoot some hens just to "limit". you don't go shoot a young doe when your looking to fill the freezer. Hate to say it but a lot of duck hunters don't even eat the ducks they harvest. so other than ego does it really matter if you don't limit.

I want to see the surface drive industry start working on making their units quieter.




Originally Posted by 2flyfish4
X2, its public land. Gotta take the good with the bad. It is what it is. If you dont like it move to private land.




yep, and i still stand by what i said in that post. I use to own a 23hp long tail. didn't have the speed as the SD but was just as loud. I still think the manufactures could do us duck hunters a favor by trying to make their SD quieter. several WMA's have put hp limitations in place to cut out the SD and airboat crowd. I think arkansas tried doing something as well a few years ago but theirs was based on decibel rating.

I think we can be our own worst enemy at times


Last edited by 2flyfish4; 01/24/20 01:17 AM.
Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726893 01/24/20 01:22 AM
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Ain't nobody making surface drives quieter. The motors they buy are used for mowers mud motors are a fraction a very small fraction of the amount of motors sold.

It's not as much the noise that I feel like is a problem.

Let's go back 20 years. Me and my best bud would go out in his 12 foot flat bottom with a 25 Yamaha. We'd see a couple hundred birds at the back of a grass flat. The next morning we'd be up stupid Early paddling wading pushing and pulling that boat across a big grass flat through stumps mud etc.


Today 20 year old me runs through said grass flat pushing up those birds. They don't ever get relaxed and they won't be there tomorrow. Sound doesn't matter if you're pushing birds so you can see how many are back there.

Last edited by ducknbass; 01/24/20 01:23 AM.
Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726898 01/24/20 01:28 AM
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Leonardo,

Didn’t take it that way at all.

Was just saying this year, for me, as well has been better hunts than the last couple years. I’m not basing my original post on this year alone though.

Every year someone, somewhere is having a great season while someone somewhere else is having a poor season. I’m just seeing and hearing an overall trend.

Thanks for sharing your insight!

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: 2flyfish4] #7726902 01/24/20 01:30 AM
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Originally Posted by 2flyfish4
Originally Posted by 68A
Originally Posted by 2flyfish4
some of my thoughts


I want to see the industry do a better job of promoting ethics and values. Studies show that young hens are most susceptible to spinning wing decoys. Thats fine. There are two options, outlaw spinning wing decoys or limit there use. Or what i think the better option is to promote and encourage hunters to take drakes. You don't have to shoot everything just to make a pile. its ok to go home a few ducks less than to shoot some hens just to "limit". you don't go shoot a young doe when your looking to fill the freezer. Hate to say it but a lot of duck hunters don't even eat the ducks they harvest. so other than ego does it really matter if you don't limit.

I want to see the surface drive industry start working on making their units quieter.




Originally Posted by 2flyfish4
X2, its public land. Gotta take the good with the bad. It is what it is. If you dont like it move to private land.




yep, and i still stand by what i said in that post. I use to own a 23hp long tail. didn't have the speed as the SD but was just as loud. I still think the manufactures could do us duck hunters a favor by trying to make their SD quieter. several WMA's have put hp limitations in place to cut out the SD and airboat crowd. I think arkansas tried doing something as well a few years ago but theirs was based on decibel rating.

I think we can be our own worst enemy at times




Noise isn’t the problem. For the ducks, anyways.

Last edited by 68A; 01/24/20 01:32 AM.
Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: beaversnipe] #7726905 01/24/20 01:34 AM
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Originally Posted by beaversnipe
Naaa, just global warming.

In the last 30 years, most Texas outfitters have either quit or moved north to oklahoma, Missouri and kansas.
Oklahoma and kansas is where the birds are now. They have liberal limits, plenty of public, more food, better weather and lots of days to hunt. Them 3 states are the ones with the most birds shot. Period.



Except I am hearing the same thing from OK and KS this year.

Lots of complaining about bird numbers and poor hunts from KS south. Lots of guys I talk to up there say the same thing I am saying.

I’m not looking at the pic whore guides that are piling up 3-4 groups worth of birds to post a 5 man limit. I know for a fact one of the more popular guides, at least see them recommended often. does this. Hunted with them last year. After each hunt the guides would take all the birds from the 20+ hunters and pic out the best 5-6 man limit and post to FB. Have heard several others doing this too.


Not as many pics from those guys this year either.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726907 01/24/20 01:39 AM
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2flyfish4,

You make some great points that I agree with. Guides shouldn’t be able to take a limit. Mud motors need to be quieter too.

I run a mud motor and will be going to a much quieter exhaust as soon as I can afford it.

8-10yrs ago it wasn’t a problem as there weren’t many mud boats running around. Now everyone has one and jumps up birds constantly.

I’m going to scout in the morning and will be using the binoculars as much as possible so as not to disturb the birds.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726913 01/24/20 01:45 AM
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IMO, there are a ton of groceries just below the freeze line on refuges north of us. Thus someone's previous post about Guides shutting down and moving north.

I did make it to the Pan Handle first weekend of Dec and was amazed of the birds I saw. Probably because of the hard freezes up north in October. Buddy's wife was in Montana. The day after she left they had 3 foot of snow cover up that state.

I believe we don't focus enough on the factory (breeding grounds in Canada) thus you see a reduction on Pintails for example.

And this -


Last edited by Hopedale; 01/24/20 01:49 AM.

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Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: Hopedale] #7726922 01/24/20 01:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Hopedale
IMO, there are a ton of groceries just below the freeze line on refuges north of us. Thus someone's previous post about Guides shutting down and moving north.

I did make it to the Pan Handle first weekend of Dec and was amazed of the birds I saw. Probably because of the hard freezes up north in October. Buddy's wife was in Montana. The day after she left they had 3 foot of snow cover up that state.

I believe we don't focus enough on the factory (breeding grounds in Canada) thus you see a reduction on Pintails for example.

And this -




And this if you're open to looking at data -



The bottom line is ducks that migrate south are few and not like it used to be. The end result is the few we get are spread out. If you're lucky enough, you tank are in that flight path, thus you've had a great season.

If the spot you hunt isn't there, you SOTL.

As for pressure, the lake I typically hunt has not had any real pressure. For example, in 2008, you'd find trucks parked on the side of the road. No spots in the parking lot.

Today, 2019 - 2020, if you have 4 or 5 trucks there, you have the max showing up that day. Groceries are plentiful, except on Lake Granger, yet there are no birds.

Why?

We don't get all the birds migrating.

I'm all for limits reduced to 3 and no more shooting after 12pm.

Last edited by Hopedale; 01/24/20 01:56 AM.

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Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726935 01/24/20 01:57 AM
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Originally Posted by RiverRunner
2flyfish4,

You make some great points that I agree with. Guides shouldn’t be able to take a limit. Mud motors need to be quieter too.

I run a mud motor and will be going to a much quieter exhaust as soon as I can afford it.

8-10yrs ago it wasn’t a problem as there weren’t many mud boats running around. Now everyone has one and jumps up birds constantly.

I’m going to scout in the morning and will be using the binoculars as much as possible so as not to disturb the birds.



Why shouldn't someone who has a license and a federal stamp not be able to shoot ducks? That's a ridiculous statement.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: ducknbass] #7726956 01/24/20 02:19 AM
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Originally Posted by ducknbass
Originally Posted by RiverRunner
2flyfish4,

You make some great points that I agree with. Guides shouldn’t be able to take a limit. Mud motors need to be quieter too.

I run a mud motor and will be going to a much quieter exhaust as soon as I can afford it.

8-10yrs ago it wasn’t a problem as there weren’t many mud boats running around. Now everyone has one and jumps up birds constantly.

I’m going to scout in the morning and will be using the binoculars as much as possible so as not to disturb the birds.



Why shouldn't someone who has a license and a federal stamp not be able to shoot ducks? That's a ridiculous statement.



Do you say the same for fishing guides? It’s already that way for them.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: RiverRunner] #7726958 01/24/20 02:21 AM
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Originally Posted by RiverRunner
Originally Posted by ducknbass
Originally Posted by RiverRunner
2flyfish4,

You make some great points that I agree with. Guides shouldn’t be able to take a limit. Mud motors need to be quieter too.

I run a mud motor and will be going to a much quieter exhaust as soon as I can afford it.

8-10yrs ago it wasn’t a problem as there weren’t many mud boats running around. Now everyone has one and jumps up birds constantly.

I’m going to scout in the morning and will be using the binoculars as much as possible so as not to disturb the birds.



Why shouldn't someone who has a license and a federal stamp not be able to shoot ducks? That's a ridiculous statement.



Do you say the same for fishing guides? It’s already that way for them.



Yes I do say The same for them. Why shouldn't someone be able to shoot or catch their daily limit.

Re: Is Pressure really changing ducks/hunting [Re: ducknbass] #7726961 01/24/20 02:25 AM
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Originally Posted by ducknbass
Originally Posted by RiverRunner
2flyfish4,

You make some great points that I agree with. Guides shouldn’t be able to take a limit. Mud motors need to be quieter too.

I run a mud motor and will be going to a much quieter exhaust as soon as I can afford it.

8-10yrs ago it wasn’t a problem as there weren’t many mud boats running around. Now everyone has one and jumps up birds constantly.

I’m going to scout in the morning and will be using the binoculars as much as possible so as not to disturb the birds.



Why shouldn't someone who has a license and a federal stamp not be able to shoot ducks? That's a ridiculous statement.



Yep I figured that wouldnt be a popular opinion of mine. Some of the reasons I feel this way. 1. You pay a guide to put you on birds not for them to be a paid hunter. A fishing guide is licensed why cant he take a limit of fish on guided trips? If the law applies to fishing I think it should apply to waterfowl and all game animals/fish. 2. It will cut down on all the fly by night social media guides that are "guiding" only to help fund their new surface drives. I've always thought guiding needed to be better regulated in texas, guides need to go through background checks, CPR and basic first aid training, and limit licensed guides per body of water or county depending on what that said area can handle harvest wise. Guides/outfitters should report to the state every year their clients harvest. Think of the data that would provide. Guide x who is the only licensed guide on x lake has years of data and for some reason it is showing a decline in duck harvest. Isnt it easier to regulate or come to a conclusion of causes if you have hard data like that. This is common practice in other states when it come to fish and game. In texas all you have to do is go buy a guide license from Walmart and start a facebook page and now your a guide.

Last edited by 2flyfish4; 01/24/20 02:32 AM.
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