Rice Field Hunting

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Rice Field Hunting

Postby jtwodrff » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:39 pm

I wanted to get everyone's opinion on whether to leave some rice stubble, or to knock it all down before the season. I have heard of some people leaving it standing outside of the decoys, and leaving open water around the blind (around 30 yard radius around the blind, then rice stubble outside of that). Is this more effective than knocking the rice down? Does it matter? The field we hunt is about 40 acres, and if the ducks do not like something about our setup, they go to one of the ends of the field. We thought about leaving the rice stubble standing next year to help concentrate the birds around the blind. Any suggestions?
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Re: Rice Field Hunting

Postby tenfingergrip » Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:00 pm

Unless I am sadly mistaken, what you are proposing to do, "knock down growing rice in water" is against federal migratory bird law. It is considered baiting. At least it is here in NC......I just had a client take his amphib out to his blind in the waterfowl impoundment that I put in for him. He drove straight thru the corn that we had planted all around the blind in the impoundment. State Game Warden showed up and wrote a ticket for baiting. Turned it over to the Feds. I may have to testify that he took the amphib out there for blind maintenance (which is true) to attempt to get him out of the ticket. Baiting is big-time now.

Way I understand it....you can plant anything you want for migratory birds, you just cannot manipulate it, including knocking it down, bushhoging it, stripping it from the husks, pods, stomping, bending, etc, etc. The only exception is plantings for doves and in NC you can bushog/mow your crop for hunting dove.

If you are talking about flooding the field AFTER the crop has been harvested, then you are ok. I personally always have a small open spot around the blind for the decoys and a small open "runway" for the ducks to approach from the prevailing downwind side.
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Re: Rice Field Hunting

Postby jtwodrff » Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:50 pm

Thanks for responding and the good information,

All crops WILL be harvested. I do not want to get anywhere near baiting! I was asking if rice stubble should be left standing after harvesting, or if it should be laying down?
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Re: Rice Field Hunting

Postby tenfingergrip » Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:34 am

In my opinion, an open area, just around the blind, would be better than either a completely pushed down stubble field or a completely standing stubble field. Gives you a place to put your decoys and/or an inviting open area to land. However, it's also been my experience that puddle ducks will land right in the middle of standing rice, corn, millet stubble or crops, as long as there is a place in the water they can drop straight down in.

Why don't you see if the farmer will leave you a little rice (1-4 acres) standing and unharvested (for a fee) to greatly increase your odds of success? Sounds like you've got the perfect set-up if you are flooding the field after harvest. (That's assuming that the combine the farmer uses in his "agricultural practice" doesn't drop a bunch of rice on the ground during the harvesting :wink: )
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Re: Rice Field Hunting

Postby jtwodrff » Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:46 am

Thanks for the good suggestions
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Re: Rice Field Hunting

Postby Rick Hall » Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:24 am

tenfingergrip wrote:In my opinion, an open area, just around the blind, would be better than either a completely pushed down stubble field or a completely standing stubble field.


That's a very common approach here in Southwest Louisiana, and you might as well put up a flashing "HUNTERS HERE" billboard, 'cause that's how too many birds will soon come to read such ponds. Better to mash or plow wide, field cut long strips in front of the blind if you want to leave the rest of the stubble standing.

Whether or not to leave some stubble is subject to debate. Do you want to offer the security of wide open water or the promise of rice below? I prefer to enjoy the best of both by hitting the whole field one sloppy lick with a disk and following with a very shallow flood, so both some stubble and clod tops are showing.
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Re: Rice Field Hunting

Postby ByersFarm » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:46 pm

If you're only hunting 40 acres I would roll it all down. I don't think standing stuble ever helps unless it still has the heads in it. In which case it will fall down soon enough on it's own.
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Re: Rice Field Hunting

Postby Rick Hall » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:29 pm

ByersFarm wrote:...unless it still has the heads in it. In which case it will fall down soon enough on it's own.


The seed will fall, but that long straw's going to remain and make the spot less inviting than standing cut stubble. Unharvested rice is really problematic, because it can't be knocked down without being baiting. And as neat as all that seed out there might seem to us, the uncut stalks are so thick birds are apparently reluctant to land in it. Best thing I know to do with unharvested rice is flood, pray geese start taking natural openings in it, and don't do anything to disturb them until they've knocked most of it down for you.
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Re: Rice Field Hunting

Postby Pouledeau » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:21 pm

I'm going to spare you the Jr. Game Warden bit and give you some actual advice:

Avoid the corners - typically the corners have unflooded roads or fallow fields adjacent to them, you want a straight stretch along an irrigation ditch or out on a levee with water on both sides.

Open water - you want SOME open water for the bigger puddlers and to attract larger groups of birds, but your greenwing, your gadwall, and you're redhead (if you're next to the bay) will land in the cover just as quickly as they'll land in the open, it adds some confidence/cover ... pintail will often land on the open water edge of the stubble and swim in and out.

This goes the same for flooded crawfish ponds adjacent to rice, bay, and river systems. I do agree with the above regarding uncut rice and hoping the geese take advantage of the natural openings, but a lot of it depends on water depth. If it's 3" the above is 100% legit ... if it's 3' ... you're probably good if it's had a bit of time to rot up and soften.
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