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Long time Florida duck hunters, were we just spoiled?

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  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,464 Captain
    edited February 9 #62
    I met this young adult at Bass Pro today. He told me there's nothing wrong with FLs hunt areas and waterfowl numbers. He killed limits every day all season. He said he's never seen so many ducks in all his life. It was a epic season. He told me black cloud 3.5s are what I should be shooting and I need more face paint. He also told me which STA was the best and that TMZ wasn't just a great TV program, but also a great place to duck hunt... I suppose I'm gonna have to take his sage wisdom to heart and follow his lead next year... 
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 2,701 Captain
    Big Mak said:
    I met this young adult at Bass Pro today. He told me there's nothing wrong with FLs hunt areas and waterfowl numbers. He killed limits every day all season. He said he's never seen so many ducks in all his life. It was a epic season. He told me black cloud 3.5s are what I should be shooting and I need more face paint. He also told me which STA was the best and that TMZ wasn't just a great TV program, but also a great place to duck hunt... I suppose I'm gonna have to take his sage wisdom to heart and follow his lead next year... 

    Ah geeez   I gotta call "BS" on this whole post!
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 11,612 AG
    Our wood duck numbers on 2 back to back private leases are down dramatically from 10 years ago, not much pressure either.

    I keep saying, too much water, too little water, no acorns, too many acorns, not cold enough, etc.

    Not the ducks we had 10 years ago with no change in habitat of pressure.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • dukhuntr1991dukhuntr1991 Posts: 308 Deckhand
    I’m only 28, so I never saw it in it’s true hay day. But, my dad started bringing me along when I was 4 or 5 years old (mid 90’s) and I still vividly remember dozens of birds dumping into the decoys before legal light while I sat there waiting on time for my dad to start shooting. That led into starting to shoot when I was 8 or 9, and granted my dad worked hard to get us on birds, but limits were common...probably more common than not. Bluebills in numbers thicker than I thought was possible kept us happy for a few years after that.  Was also fortunate to hunt a private piece a buddy had permission for, where 7, 10, 12 minute limits were not far fetched under the right circumstances. The birds in the salt became harder to come by about the time I could drive so we resorted to TMG which was new to us, but provided good opportunity to stay on birds (thanks to the call in system!) I remember skipping school almost every Tuesday morning to make sure I didn’t miss one of the 2 good chances that week to kill birds. 
    I only really had one buddy my age during that time period (who was also brought up with a duck hunter dad) that duck hunted, it just wasnt cool yet I guess?
    I graduated high school in 09 and from what I remember that is when the bottom really started to fall out for our birds around here. Maybe it’s cyclical? A lot of good observations/explanations on here it seems? Hopefully this isn’t the status of duck hunting in Florida for one day my kids to take part in, it’d be a shame.
  • RedneckFshin'RedneckFshin' Posts: 153 Deckhand
    TGunn said:
    TGunn, I completely agree.... To each their own, but my scouting starts Thursday before opening weekend, same routine every single year. Two days is plenty of time for me to scout my areas, 
    No offense but your scouting routine is part of the problem.  By yourself, it's not a big deal, but coupled with everyone else doing it, it is.

    My scouting is essentially OVER on the Sunday 13 days prior to season.  After that, all I'm doing is manicuring holes with a hedge trimmer or machete, opening up holes in the grass for my jerk strings, and getting my gear ready.

    Wherever you find a decent concentration of birds two weeks before the season, is where they will be when the season starts.  If there are 50 two weeks before, there might be 250 on the day of, maybe more maybe less, but who cares?  That's where they will all be.  They won't change locations until the season starts, unless everyone runs them off on the Thursday and Friday prior to the opener---which is exactly what you're doing.

    This past year I brought a buddy out on Lake O on the weekend of Nov 9.  We just sat in an open bay.  He saw thousands of birds; his mouth was agape.  He'd never seen anything like it.  

    They next weekend there were maybe 35% of the same number, and the weekend of opening day I'd say there were 10%, maybe, after they'd been run over for two weeks.  The Thursday-Friday pre-opener scouters are really the final nail in the coffin.

    Not jumping on you; it's just a reality.  
    Funny thing about perspectives, I think your a** backwards bud. You think running through the ponds and disrupting the new birds 2-3 weeks prior to opening day is somehow productive? You think you're the only hunter in Florida too? I agree with something someone else mentioned, if you're a duck hunter you already have your areas down from the years prior. All you need is a last minute check and those birds will turn directly around and roost in the very area they have found such comfort in over the last 2-3 weeks. Well, that is, if people like yourself aren't running them up over and over for those 2-3 weeks, because remember, you aren't the only hunter in Florida. But hey, thanks for your perspective lol
  • duckmanJRduckmanJR Posts: 20,870 AG
    I am shocked ( not really ) by what people don't know about scouting.... 

    But I am also shocked ( not really) by the doom and gloom of a sport that is subject to the cyclical whims of mother nature.

    I know this....there are places up and down every flyway....that enjoy great years and not so great years.
    This year my buddy in SW Michigan enjoyed the best wood duck numbers since he started hunting in 1992. 

    I also know that people will **** incessantly...while typing on the internet....but will do absolutely nothing to effect change...
    There are many roads to travel
    Many things to do.
    Knots to be unraveled
    'fore the darkness falls on you
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,464 Captain
    duckmanJR said:
    I am shocked ( not really ) by what people don't know about scouting.... 

    But I am also shocked ( not really) by the doom and gloom of a sport that is subject to the cyclical whims of mother nature.

    I know this....there are places up and down every flyway....that enjoy great years and not so great years.
    This year my buddy in SW Michigan enjoyed the best wood duck numbers since he started hunting in 1992. 

    I also know that people will **** incessantly...while typing on the internet....but will do absolutely nothing to effect change...
    I agree with Joe again! Must be getting closer to a full moon.
  • duckmanJRduckmanJR Posts: 20,870 AG
    A day past full...But I agree Gene...It's a little scary when we agree...Maybe it's a bad reaction from taking that "disagree" button away from you LOL 
    There are many roads to travel
    Many things to do.
    Knots to be unraveled
    'fore the darkness falls on you
  • TGunnTGunn Posts: 1,919 Captain
    edited February 10 #70

    Yeah, funny thing about perspectives, Redneck. 

    Based on your posts, it appears that you scout by running birds up. 

    I scout with binoculars and a DJI Mavic, and I find that I can get a lot closer to what I think is a productive area without flushing birds if I idle and stay downwind.  

    But you keep doing what you’re doing and run those birds two days before season with everyone else, Duck Commander.  I can’t imagine why they don’t stick around. 

    —————————-
    For everyone other than RedneckFishin’:


    The topic is about why the hunting isn’t what it used to be.  It’s common knowledge where I hunt that the ringers and bluebills aren’t there due to lack of food (hydrilla) which disappeared as a result of Irma, and hasn’t come back as a result of poor water management and spraying. 

    However, there are an absolute truckload of puddlers available pre-season.   Teal, and mallards.  But teal don’t seem to weather the abuse of getting run over and over and over as well as ringers.  Moreover, any species will tolerate it slightly better when there are hundreds of acres of hydrilla nearby, but we don’t have that luxury right now.  When good food is scarce, the birds won’t tolerate being run over the way I see people running them over.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen somebody begin to get birds up, and stop the boat immediately.  Instead, they just mash the accelerator and get every single bird off the water. 

    Everyone agrees there is more pressure, but nobody can accept that if here’s more pressure, our behavior has to change. 



  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,464 Captain
    In a nutshell, not enough habitat to sustain anything on a large scale... Later winters. Not enough "freeze time" up north.


  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 11,612 AG
    never seen any hydrilla on the salt for bluebills to eat.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,464 Captain
    edited February 10 #74
    duckmanJR said:
    A day past full...But I agree Gene...It's a little scary when we agree...Maybe it's a bad reaction from taking that "disagree" button away from you LOL 
    You agreed with me... NICE. I think that, even as misguided as you are about a few things, you agree with me more than disagree  I also think you're somewhat smart enough to know this, even though you still don't realize you're grossly misguided on a few items in the larger scheme of things... I don't hold that against you, Joe, because I also know you don't have a true grasp of large, unrestricted hunting areas.

  • godvlmangodvlman Posts: 410 Deckhand
    Funny thing about perspectives, I think your a** backwards bud. You think running through the ponds and disrupting the new birds 2-3 weeks prior to opening day is somehow productive? You think you're the only hunter in Florida too? I agree with something someone else mentioned, if you're a duck hunter you already have your areas down from the years prior. All you need is a last minute check and those birds will turn directly around and roost in the very area they have found such comfort in over the last 2-3 weeks. Well, that is, if people like yourself aren't running them up over and over for those 2-3 weeks, because remember, you aren't the only hunter in Florida. But hey, thanks for your perspective lol
    Now that is funny, you obviously do not hunt South Florida public hunt areas where hundreds of acres of habitat are here one week and gone the next... never to be seen again!

    When should that "last minute" check happen? The day before when you and every other hunter has run thru the marsh so many times that by the time you show up it looks like a shopping mall and your "area" is void of waterfowl?
  • Reel TealReel Teal Posts: 3,950 Captain
    edited February 10 #76
    Its not so much the timing as the tactic. Running the airboat or mudboat wide open in the areas you are actually scouting to hunt is going to be counterproductive. Either get their early and watch silently or go slower and quieter on edges and use some binoculars. You all act like you've never hunted before and dont know where ducks "might" be.

    Obviously there are many scenarios and its not a one size fits all. You all need to see more gray and less black and white. Or just use your noggin. 

    The habitat isnt coming back overnight so we might as well not harass what little ducks we do have these days right? Idk I am a lot younger than most here and you all have probably hunted longer than I've been alive but that's just my opinion and I feel like I'm getting more successful each year.
  • TGunnTGunn Posts: 1,919 Captain
    ANUMBER1 said:
    never seen any hydrilla on the salt for bluebills to eat.
    I can't, and won't comment on saltwater bluebills, since I don't hunt there.

    I can comment on the rafts of them by the thousands that used to be in the open lake, which are largely no longer there as a result of there not being any food.
  • RedneckFshin'RedneckFshin' Posts: 153 Deckhand
    TGunn, while I appreciate your unwarranted perspectives, clearly you missed that life lesson on never assuming things you don't know. My scouting begins 24-48 hours before duck season opens, and my main goal is to scare up as little birds as possible, but all duck hunters know that is a tricky feat. Always prepared to enter my ponds quietly with binoculars, hoping to see numbers and quietly exit with as little noise as possible, but clearly you've created your own assumption for how my scouting takes place. OFTEN, I find a new pond that wasn't nearly the conditions the year prior, and will accidentally chase up large flocks, in which case we immediately shut down and watch, pull out binoculars, and exit the area as quietly as possible once things settle. Now for fun, let's think LOGICALLY. If the entire duck hunting community were to scout 2-3 weeks prior to opener when our main flights are first arriving, we are ensuring these birds do not settle in. Then compare that to if the entire duck hunting community started Friday, the day before opener. Which scenario will ensure more birds for opening day? Again, this is a perspective thing, but since you feel the need to tell people you've never met and know nothing about "they are part of the problem", ya better be ready for a rebuttal sir. To help my LOGICAL point, let's use YOUR WORDS. "We sat in a bay and watched thousands of birds on Lake O, the next week there was maybe 35% of those numbers, and the next week maybe 10% left, the final Thursday-Friday is the nail in the coffin". Do you see the pattern in your own words bud? You "experienced, not part of the problem" hunters are running all the birds off before opening day ever arrives. Let's switch to my "perspective", if we all started on Friday, think of the numbers of birds that would still be around using YOUR WORDS, and these birds will be hunted when the sun rises the very next day. We would also have an exact idea of the number of hunters in our area, and we could do our best to communicate and discuss amongst fellow hunters for a legitimate plan on hunting the area tomorrow morning. However, when you have the perspective that YOU are the only hunter in Florida, you will act selfishly and point the finger at people you don't know. To Mr. Godevil that questioned me ever hunting in South Florida, that is comical. Clearly, I've put in enough hours in South Florida swamps that I ALWAYS have numerous ponds holding birds for the opener upon starting my scout 24 hours prior to opening morning, but clearly you don't. You've made it more clear you are the hunter that needs weeks to find a new spot for this year. I guess your one spot from last year dried up..? However, I do agree with one portion, and thats how rapidly our environment can change, which is another reason nobody should start and end their scouting 3 weeks in advance of opening day. Depending on how much rain, or, how little rain we sustain over a 3 week period will ABSOLUTELY effect the areas in which I hunt, as inches of water level changes will swing my areas and I've already got this pattern down from many consecutive years prior.

    Just for a quick laugh, let's be TGunn and imagine your hunting buddies are relying on your intel for the opener this year. We get to our pond at o'dark thirty, set up the decoys, set up our blind, expectations are high, everyone is giddy in excitement for opening day. Check the clock, 5 min till shoot time... 5 minutes pass, 15 minutes pass, 30 minutes pass when the sun starts to crack the horizon. One of your hunting buddy says, where the heck are the ducks man!? Your reply, "I don't get it, they were here 3 weeks ago........" God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,464 Captain
    This is all well and good but there simply ain't allot of ducks around because of the lack of sufficient habitat and either milder or later winters up north.... Build it and they will come. Build it big enough and there's room for all to thrive....

    BTW, it's painfully obvious to me that MY idea of "allot" of ducks and most others idea of "allot" of ducks are nowhere near the same... I'm not going to quibble over a couple hundred teal sitting in a 25 acre hole which is surrounded by a 500,000 acre wetland desert. Rats fight over crumbs till they run out and starve while fatcats get fatter with milk n honey. Do you want crumbs, or a bowl full of milk n honey? That's my perspective.
  • needtohuntmoreneedtohuntmore MelbournePosts: 318 Deckhand
    Another factor affecting the duck population is the increase in grain prices up north.  Millions of acres of wildlife areas have been drained and tilled.  Especially in ND where the duck factory is.  Once a CRP or wildlife program comes back that pays decent and grain prices drop the ducks will have more nesting area again.
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,464 Captain
    Very true..  one of the wisest things someone once said on here was that, "every time a duck hunter goes into the marsh, they should be required to bring in 50 lb of native seed and disperse it." I think everyone should do just that. 

    I'm glad to hear none of you got busted in the millet fields I planted all summer. ;)
  • TGunnTGunn Posts: 1,919 Captain
    edited February 10 #82
    TGunn, while I appreciate your unwarranted perspectives, clearly you missed that life lesson on never assuming things you don't know. My scouting begins 24-48 hours before duck season opens, and my main goal is to scare up as little birds as possible, but all duck hunters know that is a tricky feat. Always prepared to enter my ponds quietly with binoculars, hoping to see numbers and quietly exit with as little noise as possible, but clearly you've created your own assumption for how my scouting takes place. OFTEN, I find a new pond that wasn't nearly the conditions the year prior, and will accidentally chase up large flocks, in which case we immediately shut down and watch, pull out binoculars, and exit the area as quietly as possible once things settle. Now for fun, let's think LOGICALLY. If the entire duck hunting community were to scout 2-3 weeks prior to opener when our main flights are first arriving, we are ensuring these birds do not settle in. Then compare that to if the entire duck hunting community started Friday, the day before opener. Which scenario will ensure more birds for opening day? Again, this is a perspective thing, but since you feel the need to tell people you've never met and know nothing about "they are part of the problem", ya better be ready for a rebuttal sir. To help my LOGICAL point, let's use YOUR WORDS. "We sat in a bay and watched thousands of birds on Lake O, the next week there was maybe 35% of those numbers, and the next week maybe 10% left, the final Thursday-Friday is the nail in the coffin". Do you see the pattern in your own words bud? You "experienced, not part of the problem" hunters are running all the birds off before opening day ever arrives. Let's switch to my "perspective", if we all started on Friday, think of the numbers of birds that would still be around using YOUR WORDS, and these birds will be hunted when the sun rises the very next day. We would also have an exact idea of the number of hunters in our area, and we could do our best to communicate and discuss amongst fellow hunters for a legitimate plan on hunting the area tomorrow morning. However, when you have the perspective that YOU are the only hunter in Florida, you will act selfishly and point the finger at people you don't know. To Mr. Godevil that questioned me ever hunting in South Florida, that is comical. Clearly, I've put in enough hours in South Florida swamps that I ALWAYS have numerous ponds holding birds for the opener upon starting my scout 24 hours prior to opening morning, but clearly you don't. You've made it more clear you are the hunter that needs weeks to find a new spot for this year. I guess your one spot from last year dried up..? However, I do agree with one portion, and thats how rapidly our environment can change, which is another reason nobody should start and end their scouting 3 weeks in advance of opening day. Depending on how much rain, or, how little rain we sustain over a 3 week period will ABSOLUTELY effect the areas in which I hunt, as inches of water level changes will swing my areas and I've already got this pattern down from many consecutive years prior.

    Just for a quick laugh, let's be TGunn and imagine your hunting buddies are relying on your intel for the opener this year. We get to our pond at o'dark thirty, set up the decoys, set up our blind, expectations are high, everyone is giddy in excitement for opening day. Check the clock, 5 min till shoot time... 5 minutes pass, 15 minutes pass, 30 minutes pass when the sun starts to crack the horizon. One of your hunting buddy says, where the heck are the ducks man!? Your reply, "I don't get it, they were here 3 weeks ago........" God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.
    That's pretty amusing if you think everybody running around the day before would help, and like I said before you came unhinged and went on a 5,000 word "Paragraphs are the Enemy" diatribe, you're part of the problem.
  • RedneckFshin'RedneckFshin' Posts: 153 Deckhand
    Let's not forget, you started this whole thing off with a LENGTHY paragraph on why "I am the problem", while assuming on how I scout. Hope we run into each other in the marsh one day and I'll gladly show you how these keyboard hands work in person.
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,464 Captain
    Careful Red, they don't call em TGunn for nothing!
  • TGunnTGunn Posts: 1,919 Captain
    edited February 11 #86
     Hope we run into each other in the marsh one day and I'll gladly show you how these keyboard hands work in person.
    That's really sweet of you to offer!  Is this what you working your keyboard hands looks like?  







  • godvlmangodvlman Posts: 410 Deckhand
    Let's not forget, you started this whole thing off with a LENGTHY paragraph on why "I am the problem", while assuming on how I scout. Hope we run into each other in the marsh one day and I'll gladly show you how these keyboard hands work in person.
    So Red, lets go a step further, why not just scout two or three months early?  Just simply run your area to see if the habitat is there, why run it a day before?  I have been hunting South Florida now for over 40 years, never referred to an area as a "pond", be it in the glades, Lake O , or the KCOL.  Here in the glades we have marshes, they all run together mainly running from North to South since that is the way the water flows.  Can't ever remember hunting a "pond" in the Everglades? You using the word "pond" I just figured you were located in the Northern part of the State.

    After it is all said and done with, if that works for you then by all means keep doing it.. I myself will start two months before the season and scout almost everyday until the season ends!!!  I can assure you if the tactic I use didn't work, I wouldn't be doing it.
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 2,701 Captain
    edited February 11 #88

    When the prevalent species in S Florida was the Ringneck and they had a refuge of matted Hydrilla out on the open water, they could take a bit more pressure.   Put in the prevalent species of today, I would say BW Teal - they do not take pressure very well and are often gone after the first opening day volley.

    Outboards were considerably quieter than these Mikuni exhaust mud motors too.

  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,464 Captain
    Those darn mud motors definitely made all men equal....
  • cracker4112cracker4112 Posts: 843 Officer
    Big Mak said:
    Those darn mud motors definitely made all men equal....

    Them and the handheld GPS.
  • Reel TealReel Teal Posts: 3,950 Captain
    edited February 11 #91
    Should make the lake and the glades no motor, paddle in only. Look at all these ducks this guy had with no motors!!

    #bringbacktheducks






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