Why do mallards stay while gadwalls/widgeon go?

Duck Hunting for puddlers like Mallards, Sprig (Pintails), Black ducks, Widgeons, Woodducks, Teal, and other ducks.

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Why do mallards stay while gadwalls/widgeon go?

Postby DougyBeards » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:01 am

I've only been hunting ducks for two years now in SW New Jersey, and have experienced two completely opposite duck seasons. My 10-11 campaign moved to more mallard hunting than anything else by the start of the second season(november 15ish). Everything was frozen and the only water that was open was tidal waters and flowing streams. I favored the small mostly fresh tidal creeks in wide open expanses of winding water and mud flats and would shoot nothing but mallards, blacks, and the occasional diver. These late season spots don't produce till a freeze over.

Last year, every piece of water imaginable, even a mud puddle, stayed open all year. I was able to hunt shallow brushy/cat tail waters and take mallards, but also was fortunate to have widgeon, gaddies, pinnies, ringnecks, teal, etc. all the way into the last day of the year.

I guess my question is... why do only mallards stick around for the freeze ups? And if the gaddies, widgeon, and pintail are around all season through, where should I look for them? Because they aren't where I'm hunting during late season
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Re: Why do mallards stay while gadwalls/widgeon go?

Postby dakotashooter2 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:17 am

It partially has to do with food sources/availability. Around here mallards take advantage of farm country and do much of their feeding in the fields on waste grain. Other species to too but not as heavily as mallards. Temp may dictate the availablility of food on the water and when those food sources dwindle some species of ducks will move on. Mallards will stick around as long as there is open water and food available in the fields.
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Re: Why do mallards stay while gadwalls/widgeon go?

Postby Have Gun Will Travel » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:55 am

Im a bit south of you but from what Ive seen on the Atlantic Flyway the widgeon and gadwall move through earlier than the mallards. Ive seen widgeon already this year.
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Re: Why do mallards stay while gadwalls/widgeon go?

Postby Tipsntails7 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:27 pm

Mallards are very aggressive feeders, they will continue to feed at the source until it is exhausted, they are also bigger. Idea which In turn helps them fight of the cold more easily. But only the fat body mallards will stick around after big freeze ups.
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Re: Why do mallards stay while gadwalls/widgeon go?

Postby washcokiller » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:56 pm

typically, as long as there is some open water and the food isn't covered by snow, mallards will stick around. As was said before, they are built for cold better than other ducks.
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Re: Why do mallards stay while gadwalls/widgeon go?

Postby DougyBeards » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:18 am

Thanks for the info guys, makes sense. We here stories now and then farther down towards delaware bay of pintail gaddies and widgeon coming through late winter, but they are obviously very small straggler groups and a rarity to find
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