I remember last year anticipating the duck season and hearing of the increased numbers. It seemed we were destined to have a great season. But all was not perfect as the water level of our leased lakes was at flood stage for three months. By the time the water receded, it looked like a bomb had gone off. Not a blade of grass or growth anywhere. Did I mention the mud?
So we embraced the possibilities of a great hunting season and replanted all we could. But November was way too warm with some hunting success, not like what we had dreamed. I monitored the reports and pretty much everyone was complaining that few birds were migrating south because there was no snow or cold weather north to push them into making the move. That more or less was the season: a few ducks here and there, but nothing to print on the front page.
Now 2012 starts rolling around and I start hearing about even more ducks. The drought is upon us by mid-summer, but our lakes still have plenty of water and we are feeling like this is going to be the year. We even dug in a new blind in the 1oo-degree heat in July. Now though, as I write this I am starting to hear the jet stream is to the west and creating possible colder than normal temperatures in the Pacific Flyway, and warmer temperatures for those of us in the Mississippi Flyway. Well, at least it is not a block I suppose. Recent weather reports had the October 1 temperature higher in Saskatchewan warmer than in Missouri. Could it be a repeat of 2011?
As all this is happening, I am still pretty comfortable that our lake in front of the new blind has plenty of water, but then I take a picture opening morning of teal season. I return the next week and notice the lake has dropped significantly and again even more the following and week. Now I am beginning to think it is very possible we will not have water for the end of October opening day. My early thought was it must all be flowing to the river, but upon further inspection I found the creek running out of the lake was dry. Our water is just soaking in and drying up.
I hesitate to say, “here we go again,” but I am seeing the reports on the web of no water, or limited water. This has made competition for the remaining water fierce. A year ago, we had too much water, and now as we prepare for the 2012 season here in the Midwest we have to start planning some adaptive contingencies. I could not in my wildest dreams have thought our blind would be sitting in front of a dry mud hole fifty yards from the water’s edge, but if we do not get significant rain in the next 25 days, all bets are off.
So I empathize with my fellow dry-land duck hunters. I continue to hear of more lakes drying up and I recognize the benefits of wells and publicly managed areas of which many will be inundated with people, not water, for hunting opportunities this fall. Does anyone know a great way to convert my floating duck decoys for field hunting?
Images courtesy David Vaught