Mallard molt??

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

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Mallard molt??

Postby NuffDaddy » Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:06 am

About what time of the year will the mallard drakes begin to get their fall/winter feathers. Have been scouting around here for the last week or 2 and haven't seen a green head yet. Season starts in 2 weeks. Will they moly by then or am I going to have to tell the difference between the drakes and hens by the beak? I can't figure out why they would have a season start when you can't tell the difference between drakes and hens. I live in Michigan to if that helps. Thanks guys.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby apexhunter » Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:18 am

Ducks molt in late summer-fall and in early spring. The fall molt is complete (synchronously or losing all feathers in a short period) and they regrow their basic plumage which is drab colored. In the early spring there is a partial molt when drakes get their full color breeding plumage. Depending upon the timing of the migration to the partial spring molt some areas will only see birds with mottled colors instead of the full blown breeding plumage of the drakes.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby NuffDaddy » Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:42 am

So there might not even be green heads during the fall season?
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby apexhunter » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:35 pm

Hunters in the northern reaches of the flyways do stand a good chance of seeing very few if any ducks in full breeding plumage. The fall molt will vary between species but many like mallards will still be mottles by the time they pass through areas up north.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby Tipsntails7 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:15 pm

apexhunter wrote:Hunters in the northern reaches of the flyways do stand a good chance of seeing very few if any ducks in full breeding plumage. The fall molt will vary between species but many like mallards will still be mottles by the time they pass through areas up north.


I guess this depends in what you call a northern region but ducks ( mallard drakes especially) stay in some places all season long, heck a lot of the big body drakes never get past South Dakota and on coastal areas where there is much more water to choose from they can even stay into Canada. I've hunted puget sound Washington and The UP of Michigan in late season and have shot full plum drakes.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby NuffDaddy » Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:21 pm

Tipsntails7 wrote:
apexhunter wrote:Hunters in the northern reaches of the flyways do stand a good chance of seeing very few if any ducks in full breeding plumage. The fall molt will vary between species but many like mallards will still be mottles by the time they pass through areas up north.


I guess this depends in what you call a northern region but ducks ( mallard drakes especially) stay in some places all season long, heck a lot of the big body drakes never get past South Dakota and on coastal areas where there is much more water to choose from they can even stay into Canada. I've hunted puget sound Washington and The UP of Michigan in late season and have shot full plum drakes.

This is my 3rd year duck hunting and I got my first greenhead last year. I live in the lower peninsula of Michigan. In mid October I was talking to a guy at the ramp and him and his buddy had 8 greenheads and 4 teal. That is a full limit and a sublimit of greenheads. I shot mine in early November. All were in full plumage. But this year it's almost oct and I haven't seen anything even close to eclipse yet.
How Is it possible to tell the difference between a drake and a hen in flight when they aren't in breeding plumage. I hunt the great lakes and particularly the Saginaw bay. Most ducks are mallards and it sucks passing up flock after flock in the early season because you can't tell a drake form a hen.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby airborneduckhunter » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:20 am

NuffDaddy wrote: Most ducks are mallards and it sucks passing up flock after flock in the early season because you can't tell a drake form a hen.

While I think I understand why you want to know which ducks are hens or not, in the earliest parts of your season, does it truly matter to you? I mean do they taste different, are you wanting that sweet picture fully of shiny greenheads, or is this for simple shoot the drakes so the hens can lay the eggs? By no means am I chastizing your choice if it's the latter, but I personally wouldn't be passing on flock after flock of brown birds just cause I couldn't tell hen from drake. I am out there to have fun and put food on the table.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby NuffDaddy » Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:11 am

airborneduckhunter wrote:
NuffDaddy wrote: Most ducks are mallards and it sucks passing up flock after flock in the early season because you can't tell a drake form a hen.

While I think I understand why you want to know which ducks are hens or not, in the earliest parts of your season, does it truly matter to you? I mean do they taste different, are you wanting that sweet picture fully of shiny greenheads, or is this for simple shoot the drakes so the hens can lay the eggs? By no means am I chastizing your choice if it's the latter, but I personally wouldn't be passing on flock after flock of brown birds just cause I couldn't tell hen from drake. I am out there to have fun and put food on the table.
Just my $0.02

In Michigan we are only aloud to shoot 1 hen mallard each. Otherwise I would have no problem shooting a limit of hens. I don't believe it has that big of an impact on the population. I think nature will keep itself balanced.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby airborneduckhunter » Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:20 am

Now I know. I can see how that can be a big concern. Until this year, I have only hunted in LA and the only sex limit is on drakes not hens, 4 drakes. Hopefully they will go ahead and start eclipsing soon in your area.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby Tipsntails7 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:17 am

I'll tell you what hunting the early season In the up is the most frustrating thig in the world sometimes. I almost hope for teal and others rather then mallards just so you know what your whacking.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby NuffDaddy » Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:54 pm

airborneduckhunter wrote:Now I know. I can see how that can be a big concern. Until this year, I have only hunted in LA and the only sex limit is on drakes not hens, 4 drakes. Hopefully they will go ahead and start eclipsing soon in your area.

Yeah its something you really need to watch for up here. I never understand how the Feds decide what the limits are for states. All us northern states breed all the birds and can only shoot 6 ducks and only 4 can be mallards and only one of those can be a hen. Then you get down south and the limit is 7 or 8 with and you can shoot all then hens you want. Don't make much scence.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby NuffDaddy » Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:59 pm

Tipsntails7 wrote:I'll tell you what hunting the early season In the up is the most frustrating thig in the world sometimes. I almost hope for teal and others rather then mallards just so you know what your whacking.

Same down here on the bay. Took a few youngsters out on the youth hunt any they shot to hens in the firs 10 min and we watched over 40 more mallards land in our decoys and couldn't pick a definite drake out of any of them. Only ended up with the 2 and 2 more real. Was really frustrating.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby NuffDaddy » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:54 am

Imagedon't know if you can see it or not but I went out fishing today and the river was full of green heads in full plumage. Just as many as hens. Dont know where they were 2 weekends ago but at least there will be some for the opener next weekend. :thumbsup:
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby wanapasaki » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:00 am

Ilive in central caqlifornia, and about 50% have there green heads now
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby Kasilofchrisn » Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:45 pm

We don't see too many greenheads here where I hunt in south central AK.
Our limit is 8 puddle ducks with the only exemption being we are only allowed 1 canvasback.
Everything else is open towards your eight hens or drakes regardless of species. If we had to shoot only drakes it would be very hard for us to tell the difference. I don't see many grenheads thats for sure.
that info on molting sure makes sense for us this far north.Thanks for posting that.
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Re: Mallard molt??

Postby mudflatthunter93 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:13 am

I live in central nc and the greenheads just turned last week. Perfect timing for the season to open up
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