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Author Topic: Corn ponds and duck patterns  (Read 3771 times)

Offline hunterednate

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Corn ponds and duck patterns
« on: May 24, 2018, 01:31:16 PM »
Was looking at an old thread today ("RE: Did the migration already happen?") (https://hunting-washington.com/smf/index.php/topic,222698.msg2963087.html#msg2963087) and I came across this comment from Guzman:

"Every year there are more and more ducks that sit on private areas. Corn ponds have changed migrations."

Didn't want to hijack the thread so I thought I'd start a new one. Has anyone else observed this same thing happening? Corn ponds apparently sucking birds away from their usual migration/feeding/roosting habits?

 I know that I've observed a slow but steady decline in a traditionally productive public hunting area adjacent to a large outfitter's lease that is filled with flooded corn ponds - despite historically high numbers of mallards in pre-season surveys the last four years.. Every year more and more impoundments are built and planted with corn, with ice-eaters to keep them open during the freeze and mojo's running on non-hunting days to attract passing flocks, and every year the public area has held fewer birds for shorter periods of time.

Anyone else observed the same sort of thing happening? Just curious to see if Guzman and I are the only ones who've noticed it. Also curious if anyone knows of any legislation to control/restrict private corn pond hunting that has been effective in other states or provinces.

Offline shorthair-on-point

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2018, 01:42:35 PM »
I have noticed this for sure.  Its just the way of the world. It has been going on for decades, just now with the additional money and people in our state it has become more prevalent. I don't think there is any legislation that will "fix" it. If I had the money to turn my land into a duck magnet I would too.

Offline cougforester

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2018, 01:45:20 PM »
The more corn I plant, the more ducks I kill off our property. Also, when the ducks bump off our property, they fly around the public land adjacent to our private land and offer guys hunting there shots. It's a win-win. Lots of WDFW land out there that has corn planted on it as well.

And you'd be willing to support controlling what someone else does on their property so you might be able to shoot some more ducks?

Offline hunterednate

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2018, 01:55:58 PM »
Yeah, cougforester, I'm just not sure how it's too much different than baiting in terms of the end result, which is already restricted on public and private land.

Longterm, I'd certainly be in favor of restricting any private land practice that reduces hunter success on public land. As urbanization increases, quality public hunting opportunity is the only thing that will keep our sport alive.

Plus, it's always an issue of "haves" and "have-nots." If I owned a piece of private property, I'd probably do tons of stuff to make it more attractive to ducks (including planting crops and flooding them). Since I don't, I'm naturally more in favor of restricting those practices to increase the productivity of public land hunting.

Offline vandeman17

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2018, 02:02:41 PM »
Yeah, cougforester, I'm just not sure how it's too much different than baiting in terms of the end result, which is already restricted on public and private land.

Longterm, I'd certainly be in favor of restricting any private land practice that reduces hunter success on public land. As urbanization increases, quality public hunting opportunity is the only thing that will keep our sport alive.

Plus, it's always an issue of "haves" and "have-nots." If I owned a piece of private property, I'd probably do tons of stuff to make it more attractive to ducks (including planting crops and flooding them). Since I don't, I'm naturally more in favor of restricting those practices to increase the productivity of public land hunting.

I agree, I can't blame the guys like coug for doing it because I sure as heck would if I could but I can also see the side of battling the public land battle because that is what I live every duck season.
" I have hunted almost every day of my life, the rest have been wasted"

Offline cougforester

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2018, 02:07:36 PM »
Yeah, cougforester, I'm just not sure how it's too much different than baiting in terms of the end result, which is already restricted on public and private land.

Longterm, I'd certainly be in favor of restricting any private land practice that reduces hunter success on public land. As urbanization increases, quality public hunting opportunity is the only thing that will keep our sport alive.

Plus, it's always an issue of "haves" and "have-nots." If I owned a piece of private property, I'd probably do tons of stuff to make it more attractive to ducks (including planting crops and flooding them). Since I don't, I'm naturally more in favor of restricting those practices to increase the productivity of public land hunting.

Planting corn is not baiting. There are very specific actions that have to be taken to make it baiting. And sure, I get jealous of ranches and private land that some people have access to for elk and deer, but I choose to scout and hunt harder on public land to make up for it. I just don't decry those that have the ability to access that land, nor would I want to limit their ability to improve their private property for wildlife or any other opportunity because I don't have what they have.

Offline drk9988

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2018, 02:08:51 PM »
Planting corn on your land and creating flooded corn ponds have two very different results... Ducks will eat out cut corn and move from field to field. This created movement and distribution of the birds.... With unlimited money and resources you can now create flooded corn ponds and artificially manipulate the water to make them last longer.. Also you can create ponds that you don't flood until your other pond or ponds is eaten out..As you make money you can create more and more of these places until you have enough to hold a entire zones majority of birds.. It's legalized baiting and it is manipulation to attract the birds... It's gotten so big that's it's affecting migrations the distribution of a public resource.

Offline drk9988

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2018, 02:14:02 PM »
. It's about at what point do you limit the ability of a limited few to control the resources... The money that is being made when 30 limits are being shot a day adds up. So the money is reinvested and to what end to the point that no more land exists that can hold a flooded corn ponds... So now the few small public spots compete with 10,000 corn ponds.. The public land can't compete with that... Yes you change your methods and tactics  but it's not like it was....
« Last Edit: May 24, 2018, 02:25:03 PM by drk9988 »

Offline Badhabit

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2018, 02:14:26 PM »
The corn complexes and flooded corn around Othello have changed the flyway. That said, the guys that are members or the owners typically have large investments into their property to make them duck magnets. If I had $100k to spend I'd be in one or own one that's for sure. I hunt public land and it does get old getting to a gate at Midnight to get a blind. Last weekend of the season it was camping out in the dunes at the Potholes. The sacrfice paid off though. The blind shot over 300 ducks in the last week.

Offline cougforester

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2018, 02:23:05 PM »
Yeah, cougforester, I'm just not sure how it's too much different than baiting in terms of the end result, which is already restricted on public and private land.

Longterm, I'd certainly be in favor of restricting any private land practice that reduces hunter success on public land. As urbanization increases, quality public hunting opportunity is the only thing that will keep our sport alive.

Plus, it's always an issue of "haves" and "have-nots." If I owned a piece of private property, I'd probably do tons of stuff to make it more attractive to ducks (including planting crops and flooding them). Since I don't, I'm naturally more in favor of restricting those practices to increase the productivity of public land hunting.

Planting corn is not baiting. There are very specific actions that have to be taken to make it baiting. And sure, I get jealous of ranches and private land that some people have access to for elk and deer, but I choose to scout and hunt harder on public land to make up for it. I just don't decry those that have the ability to access that land, nor would I want to limit their ability to improve their private property for wildlife or any other opportunity because I don't have what they have.

I don't think it's about jealous... It's about at what point do you limit the ability of a limited few to control the resources... The money that is being made when 30 limits are being shot a day adds up. So the money is reinvested and to what end to the point that no more land exists that can hold a flooded corn ponds... So now the few small public spots compete with 10,000 corn ponds.. The public land can't compete with that... Yes you change your methods and tactics  but it's not like it was....

I guess I should say that my family has 60 acres. And I'm under an NRCS easement to not plant more than 5% of that in crops. So we've experimented with millet, smartweed and corn. Corn is king. My dad and I spend well over 150 hours a summer per person mowing, planting, and weedwhacking and have my buddies help with labor in exchange for hunting permission. That's all the people we have hunt it.  :dunno:

Offline Mfowl

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2018, 02:23:14 PM »
I'm not a fan of corn ponds. I view it as shooting ducks, not hunting them. I do believe it has altered migratory patterns and diminished public land opportunity. That being said, plenty of ducks still hit dry stubble and opporunity can be had through that. Its not against the rules so we just have to deal with it.  :twocents:
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Offline 92xj

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2018, 02:27:31 PM »
Yeah, cougforester, I'm just not sure how it's too much different than baiting in terms of the end result, which is already restricted on public and private land.

Longterm, I'd certainly be in favor of restricting any private land practice that reduces hunter success on public land. As urbanization increases, quality public hunting opportunity is the only thing that will keep our sport alive.

Plus, it's always an issue of "haves" and "have-nots." If I owned a piece of private property, I'd probably do tons of stuff to make it more attractive to ducks (including planting crops and flooding them). Since I don't, I'm naturally more in favor of restricting those practices to increase the productivity of public land hunting.

Planting corn is not baiting. There are very specific actions that have to be taken to make it baiting. And sure, I get jealous of ranches and private land that some people have access to for elk and deer, but I choose to scout and hunt harder on public land to make up for it. I just don't decry those that have the ability to access that land, nor would I want to limit their ability to improve their private property for wildlife or any other opportunity because I don't have what they have.

Yeah, because elk and deer fly out of their roosting spot in the middle of the river/lake that is unhuntable, fly in the air over the public land, which is unhuntable (in the actual air) and land in the flooded bait ponds to feed. 
Let me know one piece of corn a human eats that is harvested out of a flooded corn pond.  Show me the human consumption agriculture practice that happens to produce this single piece of corn we eat, or that cows eat.  I think I have seen a silage field cut with the props of an air boat, heck, that's a normal practice.
Flooded corn is baiting.  Might be legal in the money driven fed language, but it is still baiting.

And I would do it all day long if I have the land and money  :tup:
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Offline Badhabit

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2018, 04:28:45 PM »
Paul's Pond in the Burbank area is a well managed pond and his food source is barley. Or is was in the past when I hunted it. He's managed (to the best of my knowledge) to avoid baiting violations. A few years ago I think it was all checked out by the Feds and was not cited. The best attractant is the pond does not freeze. He does not bust the roost. He goes into the pond about an hour or so after daylight and then slowly approaches the blinds. The duck get up and leave but they were not run off. They come back in small groups, which is what they want. They won't let your educate large flocks. They frown on 3" shells in the duck blind as well. I don't think Paul's Pond has an effect on the migratory pattern in the area. Just his little honey hole.

Offline Hot Lunch

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2018, 05:38:37 PM »
There is fewer ducks migrating into the Columbia Basin. The corn ponds have an effect for sure but its minimal. There was a guide last year on the Columbia river shooting client limits and the public hunt areas were very productive.

Offline hunterednate

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Re: Corn ponds and duck patterns
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2018, 05:45:10 PM »
. It's about at what point do you limit the ability of a limited few to control the resources... The money that is being made when 30 limits are being shot a day adds up. So the money is reinvested and to what end to the point that no more land exists that can hold a flooded corn ponds... So now the few small public spots compete with 10,000 corn ponds.. The public land can't compete with that... Yes you change your methods and tactics  but it's not like it was....

Couldn't have said it better, and I wholeheartedly agree. Cougforester, it sounds like your situation is very different than what DRK9988 is describing. Your 60 acre spot isn't changing a migration pattern - but the massive flooded corn complexes in the lower Columbia Basin most certainly are.

And while they aren't "baiting" by the definition of the law, my suggestion is that perhaps it's time to change the definition of baiting to include crops produced and flooded for the express purpose of attracting waterfowl for the purpose of hunting. Doing so seems like it could improve public land hunting and increase hunter recruitment (and even more important, hunter retention). If even dedicated duck hunters like Badhabit are getting sick of the midnight campouts on public land - how many more casual duck hunters have decided not to buy a license this year because things "ain't the way they used to be?"

My guess is that within a decade, declining license buyers will force state wildlife agencies to address this issue through legislation. And my hope is that they do it sooner rather than later.

Has anyone heard any talk among state or federal wildlife officials about banning/restricting this practice?

What percentage of hunters actually hunt over flooded crops?

Is it worth it to restrict a practice used by - say 20% - of duck hunters in order to improve hunting for the other 80%?

 

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