Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

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Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby HydeMarsh » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:29 pm

It has been a very strange year for me and my hunting friends. Almost no ducks flying in our impoundments during Legal Shooting Time (LST). I would like to hear from others as to how their season went and if you experienced what we did, why?

Thousands flew in at about 5:45 PM and left about 10 minutes before LST. therefore I am not buying "they flew by us". If you think they did, what evidence is there? Lots of birds on the lake and the sound.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby quackedout » Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:51 am

November season for me was very slow. This last split has been pretty kind to us though and had some really good shoots up until the last week or so. My buddy that lives at the coast had a good last split as well. He said he had to work harder at times to find groups of birds to hunt but when he found some it was on. He also has been saying that lots of ducks were found in different places this year than in years past and had different flight and feeding patterns.

My guess is that pressure has been causing some of the behavior you describe. They are smarter than we give them credit for.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby EastBound&Down » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:19 am

This year I have covered a lot of ground and hunted numerous counties. There are ducks to be found, but no where near the numbers I would expect to see, but I'm also stuck in the dream of 1-2 decades ago when we also used to get ducks. I burned a lot of fuel last week chasing ducks and one of the semi newbies got excited at what we were seeing. My reply was yea if this was early November, but we are into late season January hunting and the numbers suck.
I kill more ducks in one week on public water than you and your "Crews" or "Teams" would even think of killing all season. I work hard, scout and abide by the law...but still kill the crap out of ducks.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby gangrig25 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:10 pm

No grass=no ducks. Ive been seeing ducks feed in the fields and no divers on the sound this year but more mallards and black ducks than ive ever seen
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby gangrig25 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:15 pm

In the past week, we've covered over 90 miles of sound and there are very, very few birds. In the same places just a few years ago, there were thousands upon thousands
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby gangrig25 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:24 pm

I haven't hunted the whole season but, in the past few weeks (which is usuly the best) ive seen, at the most, 1 thousands blue bills when just 10 years ago in the same sound, there was an estimated 80 thousand. They are killing the grass and the ducks are leaving with it. Point blank.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby Shurshot » Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:23 pm

I concur with the grass assessment. It’s one of their, if not, most important wintering food sources. I’ve been witnessing the same thing over on my parts the last couple years. Oysters also have been getting scarcer, an indicator that water quality is suffering. Without clean water, SAV’s won’t grow and the birds will only hand around so long. It’s all gotten real bad the last 3 years.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby gangrig25 » Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:31 am

15 ta 20 years ago du set up shop in my town with a goal of restoring the grasses in the sound. In just a few years they done just what they set out to do and pulled out. Everything improved drastically in short order. From crabbing ta fishing ta hunting. It wasn't long after that the transplanties began to complain, apparently the g grass was unsightly and a pain in thhe ass to paddle board in. A meeting was held and in just a couple years all the hard work by du was reversed and the sound is back to a baron waste land. But its pretty for the visitors how are gonna pay 10 times ti much for one of those big houses om the water.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby HydeMarsh » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:51 am

gangrig25 wrote:15 ta 20 years ago du set up shop in my town with a goal of restoring the grasses in the sound. In just a few years they done just what they set out to do and pulled out. Everything improved drastically in short order. From crabbing ta fishing ta hunting. It wasn't long after that the transplanties began to complain, apparently the g grass was unsightly and a pain in thhe ass to paddle board in. A meeting was held and in just a couple years all the hard work by du was reversed and the sound is back to a baron waste land. But its pretty for the visitors how are gonna pay 10 times ti much for one of those big houses om the water.


thanks gang rig, Very, very interesting post. Did the OBX community spray the grass?
Do you know what DU transplanted? was it widgeon grass?
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby gangrig25 » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:02 am

HydeMarsh wrote:
gangrig25 wrote:15 ta 20 years ago du set up shop in my town with a goal of restoring the grasses in the sound. In just a few years they done just what they set out to do and pulled out. Everything improved drastically in short order. From crabbing ta fishing ta hunting. It wasn't long after that the transplanties began to complain, apparently the g grass was unsightly and a pain in thhe ass to paddle board in. A meeting was held and in just a couple years all the hard work by du was reversed and the sound is back to a baron waste land. But its pretty for the visitors how are gonna pay 10 times ti much for one of those big houses om the water.


thanks gang rig, Very, very interesting post. Did the OBX community spray the grass?
Do you know what DU transplanted? was it widgeon grass?

Dont know what all types of grass there was, but no matter where we set up, each and ever weight would have a pound of salad on em at pick up time. Also cant say about the spray, ive heard rumors but just that. I do know the for the past few years, every summer we get whats called, an unexplainable "algae bloom". Its lime green in color, stinks like all hell and starts up the chowan and spreads out into tge albermarle
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby ncbufflehead » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:11 am

HydeMarsh wrote:
gangrig25 wrote:15 ta 20 years ago du set up shop in my town with a goal of restoring the grasses in the sound. In just a few years they done just what they set out to do and pulled out. Everything improved drastically in short order. From crabbing ta fishing ta hunting. It wasn't long after that the transplanties began to complain, apparently the g grass was unsightly and a pain in thhe ass to paddle board in. A meeting was held and in just a couple years all the hard work by du was reversed and the sound is back to a baron waste land. But its pretty for the visitors how are gonna pay 10 times ti much for one of those big houses om the water.


thanks gang rig, Very, very interesting post. Did the OBX community spray the grass?
Do you know what DU transplanted? was it widgeon grass?

Who said anything about the OBX?

He is talking about Albemarle Sound and the rivers off of it. No one has to spray anything. The water quality is so screwed up from runoff that it's killing the sound and everything in it. Every year there are areas off dead water and it seems it just keeps getting worse.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby black_duck » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:30 am

I agree with what everyone has said about the loss of grass in many of our bays and creeks. What exactly has caused this is widely debated.
I've heard that it's the insecticide used in cotton that has drained into the ditches and then into the sounds that has resulted in the loss of grass. Evidently one of the chemicals in the pesticides sprayed on cotton is the one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange. I've heard this has also contributed to the decrease in the gray trout numbers over the last 20 years.

I also agree about the lack of birds using the sounds and big bodies of water in Eastern NC compared to 15 years ago. There are several things that I believe have caused this.
First is the technology of hunting has changed. 20 years ago it used to be pretty risky to run your boat at 4:30 in the morning to some far away bay or point. Now with the inventions of GPS and Carolina Skiff, it's a pretty easy thing to do if you've done a little homework. Remote places aren't that remote anymore.
Second, is the internet. The internet and google maps have made no spot safe. Cyber scouting is how many spots get ruined these days. The word is out on Coastal North Carolina duck hunting and the increase in pressure and hunting has caused the duck patterns to shift.
Third, is the scissors rig. The scissors rig is a deadly blind and can hunt nearly anywhere. I believe the scissors rig is the most responsible for the decline in duck numbers on large bodies of water in North Carolina where I hunt. Ducks used to sit in rafts out in the rivers and sounds several hundred yards off the bank all day long and loaf. Now, the locations where these ducks used sit have multiple scissors rigs sitting there. No where is safe for a duck to rest now. The open sound used to be a mini refuge but the pressure brought by scissor rigs have driven the ducks off. These loafing spots are now devoid of birds as they have been driven to refuges and private impoundments. I know many people may not agree with me on this one but its pretty evident to my hunting buddies and me.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby gangrig25 » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:15 pm

Scissor rigs and skiffs have been around near 100 years but i agree with running in the dark and busting resting birds
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby black_duck » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:39 pm

Yes skiffs have been around for a long time, but fiberglass duck boats, like a jones brothers that are big and reliable in rough seas are relatively new.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby echoduck » Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:53 am

Sinkboxes and market shooting did more to negatively impact waterfowl numbers in the sound than GPS, scissor rigs and jones brothers skiffs. I believe we are moving into left field here. Next thing we know John Moses Browning will be blamed for the decreased duck numbers in the Pamlico.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby Shurshot » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:12 pm

Look no farther than Lake Mattamuskeet and see what the importance of water quality and SAV growth means to supporting wintering waterfowl. The 43,000 acre Refuge officially now has been declared devoid of all SAV’s on the east side of the lake. The Refuge hunts have slowly deminished over the last several years to the point where there are hardly any birds using those areas for feeding purposes. The same, to some degree, can be made to a lot of our major rivers and sounds. Not all areas but certainly the majority. No food, no hanging around, bottom line. Add the pressure that now exist that didn’t years ago and it’s no wonder why we have been experiencing a severe lax of bird.. even with the extreme cold here and to the north. Something needs to give or I’m afraid this is slowly becoming the death of public duck hunting as we once knew it.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby HydeMarsh » Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:26 pm

I observed something over the past two weeks I did not think I would ever see. I have been fortunate enough to hunt an area near Lake Landing that offers an unobstructed view of Managed Impoundment 8 and 9 at Mattamuskeet Refuge. even if we do not have ducks in our impoundment we can always see thousands of ducks flying around the refuge impoundments. I have seen only a handful flying. I cannot observe those resting because for the first time in a long time it appears the closest impoundments grew up in head high brush and were not disked and flooded. I have heard some of the MI's were not flooded this year but since I cannot see them or go to them I do not know.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby Paul26 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:10 pm

Hyde: my host in Hyde County said the exact same thing about his impoundment this year. Ducks all night, leave at LST, gone all day, back at dusk. They shot fewer ducks there this year than any time in 20 years.

Re: the grass. My coastal rivers aren’t grassy like the big water. They simply never arrived this season. Then, the cold.

I’m still on board with the cold blast theory. The 2 worst seasons I have seen in 17 years here were this year and 2010 (I think). Both had massive all-of-the-eastern-seaboard deep freezes that lasted nearly a week, and the hunting afterwards was abysmal.

It’s all in the weather as far as I can determine. If the Great Lakes get bad early, and it gets nasty in the greater Chesapeake, we do well. If it stays warm up at either place too long, we are screwed. If that happens, and then we get a artic freeze out as described above, then we are REALLY screwed.
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Re: Status of Coastal NC Duck Hunting

Postby MakeApile » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:29 am

Sounds like the ducks have turned your impoundments into a Roost only spot. I dont have much experience hunting impoundments but certain Swamps ive seen hold hundreds of ducks but they only fly in to roost after LST and its a waste of time trying to sneak in and shoot a roost in the morning and generally not a good idea.

As for the grass aspect I hope they are not intentionally killing aquatic plants in the sounds because I have seen what that will do for my local lakes. My local lake that I will not name but there are several BIG reservoirs in NC that are used for water supply to major citys that have came up with the idea that the grass "displaces to much water". So there solution is to release thousands upon thousands of grass carp into the lakes to eat the grass and eat they have. The bottoms now look like a desert and the ducks that used to use the lake and stay for weeks now if they dont bypass completely only come to rest for a day and leave. I cant see how this is good for any ecosystem because common science tells you if you remove one aspect from the food chain completely the rest of the chain will suffer. I think there should be laws against intentional killing of natural aquatic plants in public waters but thats just me.

But the carp havent grown legs yet to crawl over beaver damns so you wont find any carp swimming where i hunt :thumbsup:
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