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Mallards on a South Wind?

Mallards on a South Wind?


When I was growing up and hunted ducks with my Dad by Thanksgiving, it was usually over.  We started hunting the first of November when it started turning cold.  We would drive up and down the bottoms checking out the small reserves and see if they were starting to hold ducks.  Then we headed to a public shooting area and shot our limits over and over.

HEVI-Shot HEVI-Steel Shotshells


HEVI-Shot HEVI-Steel Shotshells

Click on the pic or the link above.  I shoot these shells.



The first weeks of November this year was a really big disappointment, but then it turned and they came with the weatherman's "vortex."  Then it seemed it was all over.  Here came a promising report.  DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge just 18 miles south of our pits was holding 100,000+ Mallards.


Our man Jackson bringing in a bird.



Looking back in time, this refuge used to hold 300,000 to 400,000 ducks in the fall and who knows how many geese made this body of water a place to stop.  The refuge was managed for waterfowl and the fields that were owned by the Feds were farmed by the local farmers.  The rent was to leave 1/3 of their yield in the field.  The water of the reserve was formed into and ox bow lake by the ever shifting river channel of the Missouri River.  It has been said, the Missouri is too thick to drink, and too thin to plow.  On the west side of the reserve the government built a viewing building right next to the water, and you could drive into the reserve, park, and then watch the ducks and geese migrate in and out of the area.  Hundreds of thousands of birds was a sight to see for the bird lover.  They all had to eat and the cornfield shooting was excellent at our spot.

John plunked a nice big Canada



The refuge changed managers and the newer ones managed the refuge for deer instead of waterfowl.  We lost all the traffic we had enjoyed over the many years.  It changed again, and the new manager is managing the reserve more towards waterfowl.  100,000+ ducks found this a good stopping place.

I plunked a couple of mallards.  Notice the orange legs.



What does all this mean.  The ducks are back and they need a place to eat, open water, and some sand for their gizzards.  We supply it all with open water, the fields around us and the sandy soil of the river bottoms.  We decided that hunting on a north wind might not be the thing to do all the time, but hunt on some warmer balmy days with a south wind.  This was done and here they came.  The nice part of this type of hunting there was no need to be in the blind right at shooting time.  The birds seemed to go out about 7:30 AM and would not head for water until mid morning.     If a hunter got into the blinds by 9 AM, it was about right.  Hunt up till 1 to 2 pm and you would walk away with a limit of birds.


Limits of Mallards


Sometimes you would sit and sit and stare at the blue sky.  We also noticed they like to stay close to the river.  From our pit blinds we could easily spot them and of course they could spot us.  Once you got them coming it was outstanding shooting and watching them decoy.


It is mid December now, and as long as we don't have snow on the ground, and the temps stay above freezing, these birds will stay all winter. Duck season ends the 16th.


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Good hunting, good fishing and good luck. Hank


More Stories By Hank Huntington

Hank Huntington, Esq., is a native of southwest Iowa, healthcare professional, entrepreneur, accomplished pilot, hunting and fishing enthusiast, connoisseur, father and husband. He developed this web site for people to share their fun and excitement about the great outdoors. The best part of this hobby is, after a successful hunting or fishing trip, you are able to dine on fresh game or fish, after all, “ How do you eat a golf ball?” asks Hank. Hanks father and grandfather were both avid outdoorsmen so Hank learned his hunting and fishing skills from them and has passed the tradition down to the fourth generation. Plus the love of the outdoors, and a craving for exquisite dinning, would round out the package.

As a small boy, he fished a local oxbow lake formed by the Missouri River. The lake is primarily old river bottom mud, is not real clear, and has a lot of vegetation. The southeast corner holds a huge lily pad bed, and it was there Hank learned to drag through the water and across the tops of the pads, a Johnson Silver Minnow, with a pork rind attached. This was the place for big mouth bass, and there were lots of them, and young Hank loved to catch them.

At age of 12 Hank started going with his Dad hunting, and by age 14 he was an accomplished shooter with a 12-gauge pump. Shortly after that he was given his first shotgun a Winchester Model 12 pump; he still has it today. It looks like almost new, but the gun is never to be hunted again. Duck hunting in the late 50’s had little pressure after the first two weeks of the season, and when the north wind blew and it got really damp and cold, the big Canada Mallards came.

After graduation from high school, Hank attended Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska. There he met a fellow outdoorsman, and their friendship developed in the fields and streams of central Nebraska.

Hank had little time for hunting and fishing while attending professional school at Creighton University. After graduation he married his college sweetheart and they settled down to career, family, and as often as possible, hunting and fishing.

Hank and his family frequently flew their plane north to Canada to the legendary Canadian fly in lodges to fish for Northern and Walleye. Here he taught his son all the things his father had taught him about fishing. Most of the time the two went alone to the north woods, but when camping was not involved, his wife Pam went along. She always enjoys the fact that she has caught a bigger Northern Pike than Hank, and he has been fishing for 60 years. Today along the Missouri River valley, the deer population increased to the point that in many areas they are a nuisance. The duck, goose, and turkey has also population have also soared.

Area lakes have been well stocked. Many even have a walleye stocking program that makes outstanding fishing. Several are within easy driving distance of Hank’s lodge-like lakeside home. All packaged together is great dining. By the way, Hank harvests only what he will share at a table with family or friends.

Hank says, “Whenever I am on a lake, in the woods, or in the blind, I am always reminded of God’s great bounty and His constant presence. And whether in the great outdoors or at home with my wife, I strive to be a good steward of nature and all that God has given us.”

Good hunting! Good fishing! Good day!