State of the Migration

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Deltamud77
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State of the Migration

Postby Deltamud77 » Thu May 23, 2019 8:24 am

What are your current thoughts on the migration, specifically as it pertains to MS and if you see changes, what is the cause.

I think the migration is moving west and stopping short as compared to 20 years ago...heck, even 10 years ago.

Causes:

(1) changing agriculture practices;
(2) changing habitat (I think WRP and CRP have actually hurt duck habitat in the short term); and
(3) weather changes.

What are the thoughts of the DS braintrust?
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teul2
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby teul2 » Thu May 23, 2019 10:20 am

I have seen several things that point to a magnetic polar shift. This would absolutely change the birds paths.
Not saying that is it, just another possibility.
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby eSJay » Thu May 23, 2019 10:40 am

Not sure I fall into the DS braintrust category, but I do have an option based on historical observations over the last 25-30 years.
I agree that the 3 reasons you listed are all variables of the equasion. Additionally, and one not listed that should be high (if not at the top) on that list is PRESSURE! Think about the number of new “duck holes” that have been created by landowners/farmers down the ms flyaway for an extra income from duck hunters. This provided access for a lot more people slinging steel skyward at migrating ducks. A duck’s survival instinct kicks in at some point!
I also think that because of this access, the gentleman’s sport of waterfowling began to deteriorate. In the last 10 years, we had an influx of new generation “duck killers”. Unfortunately, a percentage of this group were never taught to respect the resource (by no fault of their own). The boom of social media has not helped this!
I definitely think ag practice ranks high as well. I’ve seen it first hand on my lease. Even though as a waterfowler, I don’t like this, but in reality, Farmers do this to improve yield and I don’t blame them one bit. My lease money is chump change compared to a high yield harvest! Bottom line is during a ducks natural migration, they need certain food for certain reasons. Hipped up rows of buckshot mud is not a top menu item for Mr. Puddler! In my opinion, the species is slowly adjusting their migration angle out of necessity....or could it be the magnetic polar shift Joel mentioned? That one is above my pay grade & certainly one we can't control. I think if we want to maintain success of the good ole days, we’ll have to extend our hunting range & go where they go. We just need to arrive before them!
Weather is definitely a factor, but another one we have zero control over & can only hope we are still around when the pattern cycles back to our favor.
I could share other opinions, but all this talk about flooded gumbo is making me hangry :D
Last edited by eSJay on Thu May 23, 2019 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby Goose » Thu May 23, 2019 11:06 am

I have been hunting ducks in the South Delta for 43 seasons and IMHO the biggest change has been due to Group IV soybeans. 40 years ago the soybean harvest was usually getting started in late October and continued on in to November and was usually complete by the first of December, or thereabouts. Today, with Group IV beans the harvest usually begins in late August or early September and is usually completed by the end of October.

Obviously, this allows farmers to plant earlier, which allows them to take advantage of early rains, and harvest earlier, which allows them to harvest during the typically dry months of September and October, and then get their fall tillage done so that the fields are rowed up and ready to go next spring. The result of this (and advancements in seed genetics and technology) is that average yields during the past 40 years or so have gone from about 20 to 25 bu/ac to now something over 50 bu/ac. Great news for the farmer, but not so great news for the ducks. Once the fields are harvested and tilled, there is very little waste grain available to the ducks, thus IMHO, we are simply not attracting the numbers of ducks like we used to because they do not have the food available like they used to.

Along the lines of eSJay's post, I think the "pressure" factor has definitely increased the wariness level of what ducks do come down here each year. After 40 plus years of hunting them, the ducks seem to be smarter and warier and thus harder to kill now than ever before. This and the increased number of hunters all contribute to making it harder to successfully kill ducks today. You have to be a much better duck hunter to consistently kill ducks today, than back in the old days.....and providing them with a food source is a much bigger factor today.
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teul2
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby teul2 » Thu May 23, 2019 7:20 pm

I think you all give to much credit to these birds for having a cognitive thought processes. These animals are programmed to do X when Y happens. They are not thinking, "Man screw MS they all pre-tilled the fields after harvest."

And if you have traveled and hunted much, it doesn't take much looking around to know we have some of the most beautiful habitat in the nation. They are not thinking about going west b/c there is less habitat. They just keep flying south if they don't find what they want.

As to weather changes, i think this goes back to the previous topic. They should just fly the pre-programmed route. If the weather does something different, they go north, or go south.

Yes, i'm a few whiskeys in.
Looking for 2 duck calls from Dominic Serio of Greenwood (ones for Novacaine)
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby LODI QUACKER » Thu May 23, 2019 9:28 pm

No till is real! No food, no ducks, doesnt matter how pretty the duck hole is.

Vast expanses of fields with waste grain are a thing of the past in the MS Delta. The flooded fields with grain are being blasted away. No food and pressure X10 = Ducks not spending much time here as they migrate. Add a spring and summer with high water so there is no natural vegetation in the old sloughs and such makes a year like what we just had. It was a perfect storm.
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stang67
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby stang67 » Fri May 24, 2019 6:45 am

I’ve read it or heard it a couple times — what’s the blame given to no-till farming practices?
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby JaMak84 » Fri May 24, 2019 7:11 pm

stang67 wrote:I’ve read it or heard it a couple times — what’s the blame given to no-till farming practices?

The problem with no-till is that too damn many of our farmers refuse to adapt the practice and too damn many Yankee farmers implement it. Mid-west farmers used to be as bad about fall tillage as our farmers are now. Thanks to the wide-spread adoption of no-till farming by mid-west farmers all that food that used to get covered by fall tillage is now left exposed until snow accumulation pushes the ducks out. 20-30 years ago mid-west farmers were covering up all the food and the ducks would just book it on south to where our farmers were still harvesting in late October and November and leaving plenty of exposed grain cause they didn't have time to work the ground before winter rains set in. Advances in ag technology and farming practices have reversed the rolls. They're leaving more food exposed than we are and the only thing that'll make the ducks leave mama hamil's buffet for our slim fast plan is six foot of snow and frozen solid water from the great lakes to Memphis.
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby novacaine » Sun May 26, 2019 1:00 pm

Good points by all.
I will add another item that hits close to home for me. I have witness many historic small areas that have been leveled, ditches filled and rerouted, and cover removed. All in the name of efficient farming.
Places that i use to kill ducks consistently back in the 70'-90's are just a memory now.
They were all areas considered farm wetland so they were the first wet and last dry.................which is great for growing duck food. I even had a spot of heavy ground on our farm where we consistently grew cotton........real grassy cotton. I consistently had great duck hunts there.
Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby sondance » Fri Jun 07, 2019 7:51 pm

Talking about no till - I don't know if this is BS or not but one of our landowners in SE AR leased to a farmer who practiced it. We had many good hunts over the years. It was always consistent. He eventually got sideways with the landowner and a new farmer started to lease it. Doesn't practice no-till. Hunting has fallen off dramatically. We talked to the landowner and said it was impacting our hunting. We were paying a lot of $$$. He actually dropped the price of the lease. Said keeping water on it reduced they yield by $X per acre. Said their was some amount of salt in the water table. I don't know if that's true or not but I assume it must be as he obviously is making more $$$ off the increased yield that he would charge us less to hunt. Any of you guys ever hear something like that?
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missed mallards
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby missed mallards » Fri Jun 07, 2019 8:11 pm

sondance wrote:Talking about no till - I don't know if this is BS or not but one of our landowners in SE AR leased to a farmer who practiced it. We had many good hunts over the years. It was always consistent. He eventually got sideways with the landowner and a new farmer started to lease it. Doesn't practice no-till. Hunting has fallen off dramatically. We talked to the landowner and said it was impacting our hunting. We were paying a lot of $$$. He actually dropped the price of the lease. Said keeping water on it reduced they yield by $X per acre. Said their was some amount of salt in the water table. I don't know if that's true or not but I assume it must be as he obviously is making more $$$ off the increased yield that he would charge us less to hunt. Any of you guys ever hear something like that?


Prolonged flooding isn’t all that great for the soil. Certain nutrients leech out and compaction can be a real problem concerning the hard pan. From what I’ve been told oxygen is another thing that is often depleted (south delta). Soil test are needed to figure out what is high/low. I know way back when we converted our land into a rice farm we had nutrient issues due to the flood. It’s like anything else, but rented ground gets taxed for all its worth and some nutrients aren’t replaced all the time as needed. Maybe what’s happening. Who knows.

I’d almost venture the new farmer practices fall tillage and in doing so doesn’t want water to compact his fall tillage practices. That’s a few days work re doing and extra cost. Plus, as many found out this yr, a freshly formed seedbed doesn’t do as well as an established one .

As for the migration. There’s a ton of what ifs. Fields that used to hold water are now landformed. Farming practices have changed. Cold weather up north is something we don’t see much of. Refuges are setup to hold ducks. $$$ folks buying land and incorporateing refugees on their property to give ducks a place to rest. All of which keep ducks not needing to fly south. It’s a need thing, and from traveling through the Midwest/northern states they don’t need to fly south. No ice, no problems getting food, why fly south?
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby novacaine » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:17 pm

Salt water is an issue in the aquifer throughout Louisiana and South Ark. , but if you put in control structures and capture rainfall it shouldnt be an issue. Surface water with supplemental ground water (after crops are up) is becoming more common in saltwater areas.
I have family that have no-tilled in the past and they have great results but once you get everything established and going great you will eventually have that bad wet fall. Once you rut it bad you almost get to start over from scratch.
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby Odis » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:23 pm

I’m definitely not a biologist in any way, there are area where ducks have been landing for millions of years and I doubt those spots (which are few are far between) will ever change, but yesterday I drove through a part of the South Delta, the flooding was so sad, there will be 100’s of 1000s of acres with no crop residue because nothing can or will be planted, a way of life for a lot of people is about to change for this area’s population, from 465 on 61, to Onward is under water, I’m sure those farmers could care less about a duck or deer right now and I can’t blame them but unless mother nature has something in place (which she might), there will be very little food in that area
Deltamud77
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby Deltamud77 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:10 pm

I think the wildlife population in the South Delta May be on the cusp of an impact that has effects a decade or more in length.

Behind the MS River levee has been flooded since January. The South Delta, as mentioned, has been underwater since January.

I’ve heard reports of massive deer kills across the area. Heard of deer starving on the levees.

This is the biggest wildlife disaster no one is talking about that I ever remember.
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Re: State of the Migration

Postby Goose » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:39 am

Deltamud77 I think you are right on, and isn't it ironic that the "environmental movement" won back in 2008 when they got the EPA to veto the YBWP project, and now the biggest environmental disaster that the South Delta has ever seen lays solely at the hands of the "environmental movement". Good job guys......you won and look what you caused......

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