Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waterfowl Forecast for 2011/12 is Excellent

Andy Stevenson and Son in left photo and Ross on right after a successful hunt

Resting flock, Ross's kayak and mallard drake, unidentified hunter at Skeeter Branch Hunting Preserve near Lavonia, GA.

Photos by L. Ross except one of Andy Stevenson and son provided by him.

The recent report issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is excellent news for waterfowlers. The results of surveys indicate that the population is at 45.6 million, an increase of 35% over the long-term average.

It is hard to imagine waterfowl hunting with the current temperatures in the mid and upper 90's, but it will be here before you know it.

Mallards, blue-winged teal, gadwalls and pintails showed significant increases in numbers. This, couple with the local resident populations of wood ducks and Canada geese bode well for the upcoming season. Of course, local weather conditions can affect hunting success, but the overall outlook is encouraging.

Don't forget your faithful hunting companions that work so hard in retrieving your downed birds. Continue to work and exercise them, but take into consideration the heat and schedule any training sessions in the cooler hours of the day. Dogs are like kids, they have short attention spans. Keep training sessions short. Several short sessions during the week are much better than one long session on weekends. Just as you are quick to reprimand a retriever for bad behavior or performance, be quick to praise him for a job well done. Your praise is the most meaningful thing that you can give a dog.

Now is a good time to take a look at decoys, duck boats and any other gear that might need attention. The last thing you need is to schedule a hunt and find that you have an equipment problem.

Here's hoping for a banner season for all of us dedicated waterfowlers!

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