Based on the health of the North American duck population, duck season in Missouri will either be a 30-day, three-duck season; a 45-day, six-duck season; or a 60-day, six-duck season. Since I began hunting in 1999, it’s been 60-day, six-duck seasons because the population numbers have been very good, and they’re getting better. At the end of the day, the goal is a very healthy duck population, which is currently at an all-time high. An average mallard’s life is three years; they aren’t around long. Females hatch a bunch of kids and can lose many of them before they’re able to fly. Ducks in Missouri fly from Canada to Louisiana on the Mississippi Flyway every year of their lives. They’re beautiful, majestic – I just think the world of ducks. I have 14 ducks on my wall in my office at home and six more in my office in Clayton. I have duck statues on my desks. It’s just a neat animal. And ducks are magnificent creatures. Each breed is very different. There are two big groups: diving ducks and puddle ducks. The divers will usually hang out in deep water and dive for fish. The puddle ducks are the guys you always see with their tails up in the air, eating facedown.
“WE LIvE IN A vErY SpECIAL pLACE. ThE ENTIrE STATE oF MISSourI IS IN ThE MISSISSIppI FLYWAY.”
Mallards, the most common duck in Missouri and America, are puddlers. They tend to fly in groups of eight to 10, and they come to the call. Northern pintails travel in groups of four or five. You call at them, and sometimes they care, sometimes they don’t. Canvasbacks are big diving ducks, and true to their name, they have mostly white bodies and backs. Green-winged teal will travel in groups of 30 to 50. They’re the smallest ducks, and they’re just rockets. They’re real fast, and 30 of them will fly in, and when the flock turns, they all turn. It looks like one big wing, and even though they’re tiny, because they’re fast and there are so many of them, it sounds like a jet over the top of you. Many times, you won’t know they’re there until you hear them, you look around and they’re by you. We live in a very special place. The entire state of Missouri is in the Mississippi Flyway, one of four major north-south flyways in North America. The easy way to think about it is that ducks breed up in Canada in the summer, and in January, they want to be in Louisiana. In April, they start to go back north to raise their young. Geese, bald eagles and American white pelicans do the same thing. And you see them all when you’re out in a duck blind. (continued on p. 92)
PICTURED TOP: Steve Holmes throws a duck decoy. PICTURED RIGHT: Steve Potter uses a duck call.
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Published on Sep 23, 2016
Inspired by our love of nature, this issue of Feast is dedicated to the joys of fall in the Midwest. Crack open a cold one, find a place to...