Fresh mallards and an interesting decoy tip in Aaron Yetter’s latest blog

Aaron Yetter gives a decoy placement tip and notes some fresh mallards arrived.

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Foraging mallards at Clarence Cannon Refuge in Missouri.

Aaron Yetter/Illinois Natural History Survey

Aaron Yetter gives a very interesting tip for duck hunters near the end of his blog off his least aerial waterfowl surveys. Yes, that is a tease.

Click here for the listings of aerial surveys. Keep up with research updates and aerial surveys at the Forbes Biological Station Facebook page.

Here is Yetter’s latest blog:

December 4th, 2019 – Aerial Waterfowl Inventory Blog We flew the waterfowl survey on Monday, December 2nd despite the excessive wind at the start of the day. The winter snowstorm that plagued the upper Midwest over Thanksgiving weekend brought some new mallards from the north; however, the influx wasn’t as drastic on the Illinois River as it was on the Mississippi River. We encountered 162,825 total ducks on the Illinois River, which was 24% below average. It appeared the upper Illinois River (above Peoria) lost some ducks while the lower Illinois River (below Peoria) picked up some new mallards. Despite the migration event, we are still 33% below average for mallards on the Illinois River. The Mississippi River was a different story. We estimated 342,175 ducks on the Mississippi, which was 28% below average but a notable 49% increase from last week’s count. Most of the increase was in mallards (287,800), which jumped 114% from last week and are now near the 10-yr average. Diving ducks, especially lesser scaup and canvasbacks, were still in very low numbers on Pool 19. Hopefully they will arrive when the really cold weather hits in about a week. I was out almost every day over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I didn’t notice new birds in my hunting bag until Sunday morning, December 1st. Reports from duck hunters near the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers near Grafton, IL indicated the mallards arrived on Thanksgiving morning, and they had quality hunting over the entire 4-day weekend. I just checked the harvest report for Ted Shanks Conservation Area in eastern Missouri along the Mississippi River, https://extra.mdc.mo.gov/widgets/wtrfwl_harvest/. Hunter success didn’t pick up there until Monday, December 2nd. Sunday’s harvest rate was 0.9 ducks/hunter but jumped to 1.4 ducks/hunter on Monday morning. That increase in hunter success was likely due to the influx of mallards at Shanks. I counted 60,000 mallards on the refuge at Ted Shanks on Monday, drastically greater than what I saw the previous week. With the increase in mallards along my survey route this week, I decided to post some photos of ducks foraging in the moist-soil wetlands around the refuges. Notice how the mallards are feeding extensively along the vegetation/water interface. Ducks will trample the vegetation in the shallow water to expose the seeds they feed on. In my opinion, hunters should take notice of this behavior and place their decoys in a similar design. Anyway, that’s my 2¢ worth. For more information about the waterfowl survey, check out our webpage at www.bellrose.org. Stay tuned for more updates next week…….

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