Mallards

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Re: Mallards

Postby Beretta06 » Sat Feb 22, 2014 7:51 am

Take historical rain data and overlay mallard population. My theory is directly supported by the numbers. The 240 acer club directly to the nort of us is spacificly managed for mallards. The members there only shoot wed morning and sat morn. They are rarely there even at that. We see mallards over fly straight in and out of their place all day. The mallards usually are in and out to west tward the hollister gun club which is a few thousand acres heavily managed.

The drought isn't just last year by the way were 8 to 9 years into the dry cycle. Which is also about the amount of time mallards have been open to 7 I think I'm not 100% on that. Mostly because it doesn't really matter. Historically since my grandfather bought our club in 1970 our kill registers lack mallards. 44 worth of lacking mallards.

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Re: Mallards

Postby Beretta06 » Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:00 am

Pintails are a different story. Their biggest struggle is farmers on their nesting grounds. Pintails don't nest in dence vegetation like mallards. Pintails nest in fields near water but thousands of their nests are destroyed by machinery. If you notice pintail poulations fluctuate when their breeding grounds have late rain and machinery can't do as much damage.


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Re: Mallards

Postby Calikev » Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:13 pm

Beretta06 wrote:I'm surprised to see this conversation. Way to much thought is being put into it. I for one am not a mallard purist! I will take one Bull sprig to 7 mallards always. Personally I like a big puffy headed drake gadwall over mallards. But here's what I don't get if you look at CAs historical annual rain data it coincides with mallard CA's historical Mallard population Data as well as overall Duck population Data.

This is why they are called waterfowl? When the limit was 4 it was the entire North American population was down. I have 1 mallard band I took the mallard in December in Los banos it was banded in Canada. Yet some dude here said mallards killed in CA are from CA? Huh? The only band I have that was banded in CA is a Gadwall that was banded in Stevenson CA I shot it in my home town of Buellton in the Santa Ynez River.

The deer population analogy is like comparing apples to orange crayons. I didn't realize the herd in Wyoming could migrate to southern CA. If you are really worried about local populations of ducks then voice your opinion to start duck season at the end of November or go back to a 60 day split. Doesn't matter to me. Go to a point system.

As for the rice! Being a grasslands hunter, rice is bad, it's not even the weather that pushes the birds south it is the fact that the farmers do not flood all the checks at the same time like they did in the beginning, they rotate water, so the rice doesn't rot after a few weeks. Keeping the birds in the rice longer. Rainy winters is when we see more birds in the grasslands simply because the rice rots after it gets wet.



Dwight


Long term band studies indicate most of the mallards that are shot here are raised here. That isn't to say we don't kill any Canadian mallards though. We kill birds from all over the place. One thing as well is that those birds can always take up residence here as well as that isn't unheard of either. The overall point is there is always a correlation between good spring rains and more young birds around. In the wet years we see more young locally raised mallards which increases the success hunters have in the first part of the season. It also ensures that we carry more over to the following seasons to provide stock for future broods. In the last 3 years our breeding population has been going down due to poor spring conditions.

So you don't like to shoot mallards..........ok. What relevance does that have to this discussion? None as far as I see it. The fact remains that mallards are our top local bird and when their numbers fall down below a certain level we should be concerned about it. They are still one of the top harvested birds for the entire season and dominate most of the take in the early part of the season on many places. Grasslands clubs may be the exception but mallards overall abundance across California can't be disputed. Many folks pursue them in all kinds of different habitats and they are still the staple bird for the Pacific Flyway IMO.
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Re: Mallards

Postby Calikev » Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:25 pm

Beretta06 wrote:Take historical rain data and overlay mallard population. My theory is directly supported by the numbers. The 240 acer club directly to the nort of us is spacificly managed for mallards. The members there only shoot wed morning and sat morn. They are rarely there even at that. We see mallards over fly straight in and out of their place all day. The mallards usually are in and out to west tward the hollister gun club which is a few thousand acres heavily managed.

The drought isn't just last year by the way were 8 to 9 years into the dry cycle. Which is also about the amount of time mallards have been open to 7 I think I'm not 100% on that. Mostly because it doesn't really matter. Historically since my grandfather bought our club in 1970 our kill registers lack mallards. 44 worth of lacking mallards.

Dwight



I agree that you follow the water with mallards. Rainy years produce more and dry years produce less. Harvest success has a little to do with that but mostly is a produce of the weather during the season. However, having enough young birds in the mix maximizes the success when we have good weather.

You are not going to kill many mallards on most Grasslands clubs. The clubs that manage for them can do quite well on them in the good years but that is the exception and not the rule. Managing for mallards isn't something most clubs are willing to do considering the expense of doing so and the dynamic nature of successfully raising them, keeping them and then harvesting them on a regular basis. They do have better success when the population booms though.

This isn't overly complicated as you indicated earlier. During the wet cycles we should enjoy liberal limits on mallards and during the dry cycles we should have some restrictions in place when the breeding population dips below a certain level and we have little rain. Those factors line up this season for restrictions on mallards. Ultimately the biology will tell the story but I can't think that unless we get a lot of rain here soon that we are in for a tough road ahead for mallards. On top of that we have bigger problems with water in general. So this will affect everyone no matter what species they like to shoot.

I've always been in favor of putting money here in California first. I like what I have control over. We could produce a lot more mallards and other birds than we do in this State but the old management paradigm is to pass the buck. Push it up the flyway and let the breeding grounds be the breeding grounds. Well that is a big mistake IMO. There is a lot of real estate between here and there and those birds are changing their migration more and more every year. They short stop us more and more these days. The further south you go the worst off you are. Couple that with complete chaos at the Klamath Basin and we have successfully imprinted birds to not come down to California like they used to. The ones that do make it down sit in private sanctuaries all day and feed in rice at night. Why do they need to do anything else?

Hunters need to wake up. If we don't save some breeding grounds here in California and start producing more birds in those areas things will just get worse and worse. We need a strong effort to build up our own stock of mallards, cin teal, gadwall, woodies and Canada Geese. We might even produce some other ducks as well that decide to stick around. What we need is the habitat and water which is the biggest problem we face.
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Re: Mallards

Postby Beretta06 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:08 pm

Yes rice is a problem for grasslands hunters. When they used to burn off the fields hunting was much easier. But with the lack of natural habitat. Seeing as less than 5% remains of what was once here in CA it's really the only way to sustain the migrating population. I am working on a portion of our club now to eventually hold permanent water. As well as flooding another section of the club that holds water when it rains but don't currently flood. Mostly just waiting for the USFWS to come up with the max elevation I can flood to.being in a federal easement. We have to maintain a certain percentage of upland habitat. On eve that project is complete it will semi permanent water or permanent water.

This project is years in the making. The government is so slow. It's an easy project being in the earth moving business it's really an easy project. Once it's complete I'm sure the mallards will be happy.

Of our government took better care of our water recourses we would be in better shape. The population has grown. With the lack of new water storage projects we are in trouble.

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Re: Mallards

Postby clampdaddy » Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:08 pm

The mallards finally made it down to my area. There's a big pond on the west side of town that fills up with run off or water after the canals are drained. I've been keeping an eye on it over the last couple montht and there's been nothing but coots geese and sea gulls hanging around there. Drive by today and counted five pairs of mallards. :smile:
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Re: Mallards

Postby Calikev » Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:37 pm

Bottom line on this thread is the spring surveys will show us what the breeding pair numbers are. I steer clear of the drive around reports because they are isolated to a specific area and folks have no idea what other geographic areas are seeing at the same time. With a light harvest on mallards this past season we will no doubt have breeding stock hanging around to nest. That has never been in question. What is the problem is if we don't have the habitat on the ground we need for those birds to reproduce, how can we expect a good hatch? After consecutive years of that when do we start to become concerned we need to do something about it? It all comes down to the condition of the habitat and if the drought continues we will have some effects to deal with.

While harvest may not be the main component in mallard mortality it certainly has an impact. It has more to do with the length of days we allowed them to be hunted. Bag limits account for less than 10% by reducing from 7 to 5 so that doesn't really do much overall. It would have to be a reduction to 2-3 and even then lowering the number of days still has the more profound impact. I don't have all the numbers around that but the DFW certainly does and that is why they are always very reluctant to reduce bag limit only when it really accomplishes very little.

No one at this point can predict how the rest of the spring will pan out in terms of rainfall. If it keeps on raining then we will be in much better shape. However, if we can't get some significant rain through March and April then we may see some changes coming down the line. My bigger worry is the amount of water we will have to flood the refuges and clubs next year. We need more and more rain to loosen up the water restrictions that we have been warned about.
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Re: Mallards

Postby 3200 man » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:55 pm

With the weatherman only being 40 % right I wouldn't count on it raining through April ? With the recent rains
vegetation is growing really good with the warm days we're having , this should give the birds some place to hide
their nest but , the predators are waiting too . Water in the Refuges comes first , right ? so good management of
it will go along way . Clubs in the South Grasslands are in trouble along with the rice fields up North so , we can't
count on them to be breeding grounds this year or maybe next year too . My thoughts are , donations should go to
the Refuges in our area as the Organizational (DU,CWA,DW) monies are given to Large Membership Clubs that don't need it .
Helping Refuge full-time managers is better than a part-time caretaker in most Clubs ?
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Re: Mallards

Postby quigby979 » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:26 pm

What was the the last project to increase existing wetlands or purchase new properties in California for nesting and waterfowl habitat? Either by DU/CWA. How can we as hunters make donations to our refuge system? In the Central SJ Valley alot of the pasture land has disappeared and has become almond or Pistachio orchards. These pastures were flooded and very popular nesting area for ducks. Other than Mendota NWR their isn't much to offer for nesting and breeding in this area.
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Re: Mallards

Postby Beretta06 » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:54 pm

After the 6 to 8" of rain on the central coast there are mallards in every pond and puddle. Where did they come from?

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Re: Mallards

Postby 3200 man » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:42 am

That is kinda what I'm saying , Mother Nature will provide spots for nesting birds with rain (hopefully) but , true man-made ,
managed nesting grounds are on the Refuges with 24 hr management and control of human and predator disturbance with water , food and no Cows or harvesting to upset the nests . All other areas are a bonus for birds and if Clubs have some water or food
and manage their lands part-time , Great ! But , I doubt it this year or next ...... :huh:
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Re: Mallards

Postby Calikev » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:26 pm

Even if the breeding pair count comes back decent this year it won't mean much if we don't have the habitat suitable to brood the birds. We can provide all the nesting cover we want but we need brood water and summer molt water as well. If we don't have it then predators will wipe out those #'s for us. It is highly unlikely we will see good brood ponds unless we have a miracle in the spring. So what we will be looking at will be a continued shrinking mallard population. The biologists will determine at what point we can go before making changes. With the Western AHM in place we have a very tiny margin between liberal and restrictive. We don't have much room in the moderate range so what that means is it probably has to be really, really bad to see any changes at all.

I would caution folks about getting overly excited about seeing a bunch of mallards around right now. Most places are drawing down so we haven't even lost our seasonal wetlands as of yet. I get more excited when I see a ton of water around in the spring. Water is the most important element and if we had an abundance of it we could even produce good numbers of birds with a low breeding population. It ALWAYS comes down to having the water at the right time to provide the habitat at the right time. If those things happen then the birds will come as they always do. Our best mallard seasons coincide with the wet cycles.
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Re: Mallards

Postby ShootThemInTheEye » Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:54 pm

I will have to respectfully disagree on the just add water theory to bring the local mallard counts up. since 2000 there have been only 3 years the count has been above the long term average and those times just barely. that leaves 10 out of 13 years BELOW average. Sometimes as much as 30% below. Another factor is these counts include urban birds that are not hunted or reside in closed areas further skewing the reality of huntable local mallard numbers being extremely low. I guess if we all decoyed on the west side of lake Merit the mallard population would seem fine. I believe lack of wild habitat in non urban areas lack of a northern mallard migration and continued liberal limits in down years are all contributing to put too much pressure on the birds we hunt and something needs to be done about it. Biologist numbers not withstanding

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Re: Mallards

Postby 3200 man » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:27 pm

We humans have it all figured-out , maybe one way or the other but , killing them up North on the other side of the U S
border I believe has an effect on Mallard populations both east and west , also with properties like Eagle Lake shooting over
flooded corn takes a big chunk out of migratory birds and WHO goes there ? I won't say but I do look at magazines about how
much we're doing here !

Just a Opinion ! :huh:
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Re: Mallards

Postby duckdoa » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:05 am

Hunters opinions don't matter, sound wildlife management and fact do. There are many studies to which one can collectively gather information and draw conclusions from.
There are people who actually do this for a living! These are professionals who are well educated and base their findings on research and sound wildlife management principles. Basing opinion on fact is the only way to go in my opinion.
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Re: Mallards

Postby ShootThemInTheEye » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:09 pm

duckdoa wrote:Hunters opinions don't matter, sound wildlife management and fact do. There are many studies to which one can collectively gather information and draw conclusions from.
There are people who actually do this for a living! These are professionals who are well educated and base their findings on research and sound wildlife management principles. Basing opinion on fact is the only way to go in my opinion.


It's the sheep mentality that blindly follows government bean counters that is the problem here. Ask 1,000 hunters that have gone into the field at least 25 times a year for the last 20 years what they think of the mallard hunting in California and how it is trending. I believe you would be shocked at the answer. If we keep on the current path the only mallard we will see will be at the local park and in pictures on the straps of Washington Oregon and Canadian posters. We are hunting a baseline population of about 370,000 birds 100 plus days a year with the highest limits possible. The majority of those 370,000 are being counted at places that are closed to hunting .

In 25 years your "sound wildlife management" is going to have us hunting white headed mallard with bread in their mouth that have been chased off the golf course by an errant 3 wood into the pond. The only fact that matters to us hunters is we are seeing fewer and fewer mallard every year and that is not an opinion
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Re: Mallards

Postby duckdoa » Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:27 pm

Who said government is the only ones counting beans? There are far more non governmental agencies doing research and wildlife programs than state ran entities. Information gathering comes from many sources including the fact hunters like me and you see less mallards in the skies. The factors vary but you must also remember mallards are smarter than most ducks, that's why you see them in parks. They have mastered the art of gainfull population increase due to being able to live in urban areas and around people. There were tons of mallards in our rice field last weekend albeit I shot only 1 all season long. Why you ask? Because they have adapted to feeding at night and move quickly to areas they don't get shot at.
I'm not saying there isn't fewer birds, it's just that sound wildlife managemt and Darwin's theory continues to hold true.
It's usually ALWAYS about habitat loss in the end as to the demise of any specie. The boys are shooting more mallards than ever down in the South Bay...just so happens to be where habitat has been restored, go figure?
I heard noisy hen mallards all year long in our fields only to hear them take off 20 minutes before shoot time never to see them return again.
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Re: Mallards

Postby Calikev » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:28 pm

ShootThemInTheEye wrote:I will have to respectfully disagree on the just add water theory to bring the local mallard counts up. since 2000 there have been only 3 years the count has been above the long term average and those times just barely. that leaves 10 out of 13 years BELOW average. Sometimes as much as 30% below. Another factor is these counts include urban birds that are not hunted or reside in closed areas further skewing the reality of huntable local mallard numbers being extremely low. I guess if we all decoyed on the west side of lake Merit the mallard population would seem fine. I believe lack of wild habitat in non urban areas lack of a northern mallard migration and continued liberal limits in down years are all contributing to put too much pressure on the birds we hunt and something needs to be done about it. Biologist numbers not withstanding

Just one hunters opinion



Are you referring to the Breeding Pair count?

The breeding pair count is only one part of the equation. A high breeding pair count yields nothing without suitable habitat on the ground. A low breeding pair count with good habitat on the ground will yield a better fall flight than will a high breeding count with very little habitat. That is why water is so important.

There have been many years that our BPOP numbers weren't all that high but we had good numbers of young birds come fall. Why? Because with good habitat (based from good spring rain) we were able to successfully nest,brood, and molt birds which resulted in lots of young birds around. So while a higher BPOP is always encouraging as that indicates your breeding stock, I would not look at that number as the done deal. The done deal is having good habitat in the spring into summer for the birds. Realistically if the BPOP is super low then it might take a succession of good water years to bring the birds back into great numbers but we haven't hit the super low spot yet. This might be the year that happens but I doubt that will be the case because I suspect mortality wasn't all that high this past year as the fair weather during the season. They may be in trouble come this spring though from predators as we might lose a lot of hens on the nests due to poor cover. I do think more ground going fallow might offset some of that but I woudn't expect a lot of ducklings to make it through as once what little water we have dries up they will be in trouble.

The bottom line is the population ALWAYS shrinks and grows with available water/habitat. That is the single biggest factor in it.

Kevin
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Re: Mallards

Postby Calikev » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:43 pm

duckdoa wrote:Who said government is the only ones counting beans? There are far more non governmental agencies doing research and wildlife programs than state ran entities. Information gathering comes from many sources including the fact hunters like me and you see less mallards in the skies. The factors vary but you must also remember mallards are smarter than most ducks, that's why you see them in parks. They have mastered the art of gainfull population increase due to being able to live in urban areas and around people. There were tons of mallards in our rice field last weekend albeit I shot only 1 all season long. Why you ask? Because they have adapted to feeding at night and move quickly to areas they don't get shot at.
I'm not saying there isn't fewer birds, it's just that sound wildlife managemt and Darwin's theory continues to hold true.
It's usually ALWAYS about habitat loss in the end as to the demise of any specie. The boys are shooting more mallards than ever down in the South Bay...just so happens to be where habitat has been restored, go figure?
I heard noisy hen mallards all year long in our fields only to hear them take off 20 minutes before shoot time never to see them return again.


I agree that habitat changes are the biggest reasons why the mallard population continues to dwindle down. Most of that is due to dry springs over the past few years but there is also other factors going on that contribute to it. The Klamath is a huge reason but other management changes over the years on both refuges and clubs has affected the population numbers as well. Urban sprawl is also a factor. Places continue to grow and chew up small pothole/wetlands areas that were always important during the wetter years in producing pocket #'s of mallards that show themselves in the fall flight. With more and more of those fringe areas being bulldozed, we lose the ability in the wet years to swell those numbers.

I wouldn't say the population is in trouble though. There should be concerns about the trends but none of those trends can't be offset with some changes in Management and some help from Mother Nature. There needs to be a major shift in the priorities of Managers and waterfowlers in this State. If folks truly want to see better hunting in this State moving forward then we will need to put a lot more money and time into local habitat vs. spending so much up north. I don't see that happening anytime soon but I still have hope it will get to the point that other folks will start to realize that vision.
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Re: Mallards

Postby ShootThemInTheEye » Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:11 pm

Calikev wrote:
ShootThemInTheEye wrote:I will have to respectfully disagree on the just add water theory to bring the local mallard counts up. since 2000 there have been only 3 years the count has been above the long term average and those times just barely. that leaves 10 out of 13 years BELOW average. Sometimes as much as 30% below. Another factor is these counts include urban birds that are not hunted or reside in closed areas further skewing the reality of huntable local mallard numbers being extremely low. I guess if we all decoyed on the west side of lake Merit the mallard population would seem fine. I believe lack of wild habitat in non urban areas lack of a northern mallard migration and continued liberal limits in down years are all contributing to put too much pressure on the birds we hunt and something needs to be done about it. Biologist numbers not withstanding

Just one hunters opinion



Are you referring to the Breeding Pair count?

The breeding pair count is only one part of the equation. A high breeding pair count yields nothing without suitable habitat on the ground. A low breeding pair count with good habitat on the ground will yield a better fall flight than will a high breeding count with very little habitat. That is why water is so important.

There have been many years that our BPOP numbers weren't all that high but we had good numbers of young birds come fall. Why? Because with good habitat (based from good spring rain) we were able to successfully nest,brood, and molt birds which resulted in lots of young birds around. So while a higher BPOP is always encouraging as that indicates your breeding stock, I would not look at that number as the done deal. The done deal is having good habitat in the spring into summer for the birds. Realistically if the BPOP is super low then it might take a succession of good water years to bring the birds back into great numbers but we haven't hit the super low spot yet. This might be the year that happens but I doubt that will be the case because I suspect mortality wasn't all that high this past year as the fair weather during the season. They may be in trouble come this spring though from predators as we might lose a lot of hens on the nests due to poor cover. I do think more ground going fallow might offset some of that but I woudn't expect a lot of ducklings to make it through as once what little water we have dries up they will be in trouble.

The bottom line is the population ALWAYS shrinks and grows with available water/habitat. That is the single biggest factor in it.

Kevin



Yes I am talking breeding numbers.. I will give you that wetter years produce more birds. I will also give you total California Mallard numbers are no where near in danger. I will give you we are losing nesting areas. I will give you Pacific flyway numbers of Mallard are solid. BUT the fact remains we are seeing fewer and fewer mallard year after year in hunting situations. I am not sure what is causing it but I suspect many factors.

Maybe I am dead wrong in my thinking. Anyone have state wide kill records going back 20 years? Like Mallards killed per hunter per hunting day? How about a map overlay showing where the breeding pairs were counted? Urban mallard mean nothing to most hunters. How about non California Northern Mallard migration numbers? Are they really stopping short and not migrating here?

A good analogy to what I suspect is going on are Canada geese. Numbers are solid here but some hunting areas almost never see one because they are urban birds for the most part. It could very well be that that breeding number of 370,000 mallard is becoming more and more urban birds (parks/golf courses etc.)year after year couple that with a lack of a northern mallard migration and us hunting the "wild local population" into extinction and bingo no mallard in the skies while total populations remain steady. Just a theory here nothing to back it up.
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Re: Mallards

Postby #4Buckshot » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:20 pm

ShootThemInTheEye asked: Does anyone have state kill records going back 20 years?

Yes, I do.
My records (hard copies) go back much farther than that.
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Re: Mallards

Postby ShootThemInTheEye » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:35 pm

#4Buckshot wrote:ShootThemInTheEye asked: Does anyone have state kill records going back 20 years?

Yes, I do.
My records (hard copies) go back much farther than that.



Awesome. Am I just crying wolf here? Is there actually a very real decline in the average mallard harvest or are my eyes just going bad? I guess the first step in solving something is to show that there is actually a problem. I am going to go out on a limb and say at least 50% drop in mallard harvest per hunter per day hunted compared to 10 years ago. even not counting last season

Are your numbers state wide of just a club?
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Re: Mallards

Postby Calikev » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:08 pm

ShootThemInTheEye wrote:
Calikev wrote:
ShootThemInTheEye wrote:I will have to respectfully disagree on the just add water theory to bring the local mallard counts up. since 2000 there have been only 3 years the count has been above the long term average and those times just barely. that leaves 10 out of 13 years BELOW average. Sometimes as much as 30% below. Another factor is these counts include urban birds that are not hunted or reside in closed areas further skewing the reality of huntable local mallard numbers being extremely low. I guess if we all decoyed on the west side of lake Merit the mallard population would seem fine. I believe lack of wild habitat in non urban areas lack of a northern mallard migration and continued liberal limits in down years are all contributing to put too much pressure on the birds we hunt and something needs to be done about it. Biologist numbers not withstanding

Just one hunters opinion



Are you referring to the Breeding Pair count?

The breeding pair count is only one part of the equation. A high breeding pair count yields nothing without suitable habitat on the ground. A low breeding pair count with good habitat on the ground will yield a better fall flight than will a high breeding count with very little habitat. That is why water is so important.

There have been many years that our BPOP numbers weren't all that high but we had good numbers of young birds come fall. Why? Because with good habitat (based from good spring rain) we were able to successfully nest,brood, and molt birds which resulted in lots of young birds around. So while a higher BPOP is always encouraging as that indicates your breeding stock, I would not look at that number as the done deal. The done deal is having good habitat in the spring into summer for the birds. Realistically if the BPOP is super low then it might take a succession of good water years to bring the birds back into great numbers but we haven't hit the super low spot yet. This might be the year that happens but I doubt that will be the case because I suspect mortality wasn't all that high this past year as the fair weather during the season. They may be in trouble come this spring though from predators as we might lose a lot of hens on the nests due to poor cover. I do think more ground going fallow might offset some of that but I woudn't expect a lot of ducklings to make it through as once what little water we have dries up they will be in trouble.

The bottom line is the population ALWAYS shrinks and grows with available water/habitat. That is the single biggest factor in it.

Kevin



Yes I am talking breeding numbers.. I will give you that wetter years produce more birds. I will also give you total California Mallard numbers are no where near in danger. I will give you we are losing nesting areas. I will give you Pacific flyway numbers of Mallard are solid. BUT the fact remains we are seeing fewer and fewer mallard year after year in hunting situations. I am not sure what is causing it but I suspect many factors.

Maybe I am dead wrong in my thinking. Anyone have state wide kill records going back 20 years? Like Mallards killed per hunter per hunting day? How about a map overlay showing where the breeding pairs were counted? Urban mallard mean nothing to most hunters. How about non California Northern Mallard migration numbers? Are they really stopping short and not migrating here?

A good analogy to what I suspect is going on are Canada geese. Numbers are solid here but some hunting areas almost never see one because they are urban birds for the most part. It could very well be that that breeding number of 370,000 mallard is becoming more and more urban birds (parks/golf courses etc.)year after year couple that with a lack of a northern mallard migration and us hunting the "wild local population" into extinction and bingo no mallard in the skies while total populations remain steady. Just a theory here nothing to back it up.


Well you are 100% correct in that we are seeing less and less mallards these days. That's a fact. Why is a combination of different factors that you and others have hit on.

More recently it is because of the poor spring conditions locally. Looking back over the years is the spreading effect due to having so much more seasonal wetland habitat for the birds to spread out on. So the perception is there are so much less but the numbers aren't showing that to a point where restrictions are being put into place. All that flooded rice, private sanctuaries and a demise of the habitat on public refuges has led to birds spreading out to places they didn't use to go to in the past. I guess you could call it too much of a good thing.

From the breeding standpoint the fall of the Klamath Basin is a huge reason we aren't seeing as many mallards. That area is crucial to producing thousands of mallards every year that eventually end up all over the State. Band returns over the years have shown that. I think the long term impact of losing the Basin is showing itself now. 10-15 years removed we are starting to see how important the Basin is to mallard production in the State.

Another factor is abatement costs and less early flooding. Without having summer water many birds get wiped out in the molt phase. Young birds don't have protection from predators as they are maturing and need flooded areas to escape predators, etc. The end result of the lack of flooded habitat shows itself come fall flood time. Don't get me wrong, mallards are very good at adapting and they have to some extent. However, the birds aren't out in big numbers and the ones we do have, are successfully imprinting areas they didn't use to. The long term change is evident now. If we don't start focusing on fixing the problems at the Basin and figuring how to change management elsewhere then the birds will continue to use places most folks can't get to them. With a growing population in California due to hit 50 million in a few years I think DU and CWA's #1 Priority here in California should be securing year round water supplies to provide water for that type of management. We need management year round for our local birds and end the passing the buck type management that occurs now after drawdown is over with.
"It seems the harder I work the more luck I seem to have"
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Re: Mallards

Postby yellowdog53 » Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:30 pm

This is why I am heading North to Canada again for two and a half months again next year...

So who wants to go to Canada and shoot mallards in dry fields? Never see or have any conflicts with other hunters, you can shoot 8 mallards a day plus 20 snows and 8 honks... If you want to go let me kow I have room for you and your buddies.. It is almost like free lancing except the birds are scouted and the fields are ready to hunt for you..

PM me if you are serious about a greta trip with your buddies
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Re: Mallards

Postby 3200 man » Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:28 pm

Yep , kill'em when there is still milk in their mouths...........go early Fred and stomp on some eggs too !

i'm not a Hater , just one who likes to eat what I kill :yes: :no: :no: :no: :no: :no: :no:
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