North Carolina Duck Hunting Discussion

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North Carolina Duck Hunting Discussion

Postby black_duck » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:55 am

I feel like it would be interesting to discuss the status of North Carolina duck hunting. It seems as if the last two seasons have been dismal for many hunters, with the 2019-2020 season being the worst season in everyones memory.
Obviously, the weather had a great impact on the hunting success and the amount of birds around. 2019 was the warmest year on record for the state of North Carolina. 2020 hasn't been any colder. But nobody in the whole flyway had birds and NC always has the highest bird harvest numbers of anywhere on the East Coast. It's interesting though, before the season came in, I heard people talking about how they'd never seen more ducks in North Carolina in the month of November than we had this year. I believe that Nor' Easter we had opening weekend that blew 50 for three days blew all the ducks out of the state and jacked the water levels up on the sound and the birds never really filled back in afterwards.
The sound hunting was dismal, saw virtually no blackheads all year, even in places where they're normally thick as mosquitos. I feel like there are several reasons as to why the sound hunting has gone downhill. One thing I believe is a driving factor is scissors rigs becoming the popular set up for duck hunting. In every county in Eastern North Carolina, you cant drive down the road with out passing a boat loaded down with pine trees. There used to be rafts of divers and puddle ducks that would sit offshore and all us hunters would all sit and stare at them, cursing them for not coming to shore. Then when the weather would get snotty, you'd have days when you'd shoot them. Now you sit on shore and don't see any birds moving on the horizon. The scissors rigs have the ability to move and set up where the rafts of ducks used to rest and now we don't have ducks resting on the sounds anymore. Not to mention the guides that sit in the same location in the ducks flyway everyday of the year and shoot at everything that flies by. It only makes sense that the birds would stop using out there.
Another problem I see and have noticed, is in Hyde County. When you speak of Hyde County to NC duck hunters, people envision an almost fairy tale place, but quite honestly, it's not. Yes, the county holds ducks, but it's because nearly half of the county is refuge. Twenty years ago there were only about 100 impoundments in that county. Now, I've heard there are as many as 1800, with who knows how many under construction. Think about the amount of acres of food and corn sitting in all those impoundments that the birds can pick from. There's only so many ducks in the area, and so it makes sense that no one is seeing the numbers in their spots that they used to. Say there's 120,000 ducks sitting on the lake, with a good 30,000 of them being redheads that fly out to the outerbanks at dusk, and then divide that by the amount of impoundments, with some of the better impoundments holding over 15,000 of those birds each. It makes sense that a lot of people don't have more than a couple hundred ducks using their places at night time. From everyone I've talked to, it seems like the ducks didn't even eat the corn all year, as it wasn't ever cold enough.

Who knows though, next year the hunting could be the best we've ever seen, but I do believe there are some things contributing to the declining quality of hunting in North Carolina.
Psalms 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

The duck hunters bible verse
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Re: North Carolina Duck Hunting Discussion

Postby Paul26 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:39 pm

Good theories. Opinions are like elbows: we all have them.

I scouted the New River near Sneads Ferry/Lejeune every Sunday since October. I have been using the same excellent vantage points for years. I can state with confidence that they never came......until I saw them on 2 Feb. Last Sunday there were unquestionably thousands.....as many as I have ever seen. They just came late. Draw your own conclusions.

The redheads were thick as thieves in Core Sound and the Outter Banks pretty much all season. I have this on authority from Harkers Island hunters. Last Saturday we hired the best guide in Cedar Island and slayed the reds up near Plymouth Island. It was the duck hunting equivalent of hitting a birdie on #18 after hitting 17 straight triple boogies. It was incredibly motivating to see cupped birds coming into decoys for the first time all year. Our guide (Buddy Goodwin) said they were there all year. He also said something that validates your theory on the November storm: he said the blue bills were thick up until that storm.....then left.

Not sure I am on board with your Hyde County observation. We did great there last year.......there were not hundreds of additional impoundments built between Jan 2019 and this season. Everything I have heard from the graybeards up there is that (a) they never really arrived in great numbers, and (b) the ones that did just sat on the lake in the mostly piss-warm weather. I hunted up there 6 days this year: 5 of these days temps were in the 50’s and 60’s. My opinion on Hyde: it was just a crappy year.

And always remember: we are trying to outsmart an animal with a brain the size of a Lima bean.
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Re: North Carolina Duck Hunting Discussion

Postby HydeMarsh » Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:16 pm

I can say that all season I could go about 400 yards from one of my impoundments and see ducks that numbered over 100,00 and they never flew from the lake to my impoundment in the day time to eat corn. There were ducks here but they flew at night.

There have been scissor rigs on NC sounds for a very long time. there have been pole blinds brushed with pines for a very long time. Most years they killed ducks, some years they did not.
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Re: North Carolina Duck Hunting Discussion

Postby KAhunter » Tue Mar 10, 2020 2:28 pm

I think one of the things hurting duck hunting in NC is the lack of SAV. Whether it is a mismanaged Lake Mattamuskeet to hurricanes and big storms causing loss in the sounds to pollution and outright spraying by municipalities, I hold a firm belief that with the grass go the ducks. Now this is one factor among other factors that have played a part in NC duck hunting. I pay attention to the sav quality and abundance and I think this really plays a factor in our duck numbers (once again among other variables and factors). I think it hurts the hunting around lake mattamuskeet, currituck sound, albermarle sound, alligator river shoals, etc. I really wish we could make a push to conserve these SAV habitats and promote them. This year was the slowest year in a while for us, but we still did pretty well, especially considering most people I know did almost nothing. The weather sucked but there where ducks to be killed. Next year could bring an awesome year or a terrible year and it is more weather dependent than anything, but if we want to get our birds numbers up year in and year out, we need the SAVs to do it.
"If you have to be crazy to be a duck hunter, i dont wish to be sane" Robert Ruark

Its always duck season, there is just a long break from february to september.
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Re: North Carolina Duck Hunting Discussion

Postby cbrtrvr » Mon Mar 16, 2020 8:40 am

Talking with my dad and his friends who have seen years like this in the past. Their theory is the ducks never showed up. Along with that comes many factors from weather to the SAV to their flight patterns changing. My father and his friends were in Canada this year and had one of the worst years ever. So bad they left 2 days early and Dad has been going for 35 plus years. I know the SAV we had this summer didn't make it to the fall or winter. Without food they will bypass this area. I believe there were a lot of factors in this hunting season. After hunting here and on the Outer Banks the ducks that we did have saw so much pressure they learned decoys blinds and safe areas. The new ducks came and went fast pretty days and nights allowed them to move. But again those are just my thoughts and opinion.
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