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Duck Blind and Habitat Management for the 2013-2014 Migration

Duck Blind and Habitat Management for the 2013-2014 Migration

July 9 2013

As we enter July, Cris, Bobby, and I met to make the final decisions about holes to schedule as well as rotations to employ for the upcoming duck season in the shared duck leases program. July 1, finds me at my desk finalizing the general layout and management of waterfowl habitat in the duck blind areas. I have the decided advantage of four years previous experience staffing and directing the duck hunting program as it moves into the fifth year. The staff and I employ the techniques outlined in the Waterfowl Habitat Management Handbook for the Lower Mississippi River Valley. At the conclusion of the past duck season, we also invited Houston Havens, Waterfowl Programs Biologist for the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, to tour the season duck program properties and present his recommendation to us. He affirmed that “the properties are located in a great area for attracting wintering waterfowl” and provided a written report of recommendations addressing “the general layout and management of waterfowl habitat on the properties.” For his input, I am especially grateful.

Based on last years harvest report, we have removed a limited number of the holes from the scheduled duck blinds list as well as adding some new ones. In addition to newcomers, we have twenty duck hunt groups returning for the 2013-2014 duck season. Enrollment trends from prior years indicate that we will reach capacity and be fully booked for the shared duck leases program in August or September. For booking information contact Nathan Peden, Director of Wildlife Programs, 601-479-4873

Could Your Labrador Score a Knock Out?

Could Your Labrador Score a Knock Out?

February 19 2013

Ever wonder how your loyal lab compares to the best of the best? Not in the duck blind but in the show ring at Madison Square Gardens. For the past 22 years, the Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog breed in the U.S. according to the American Kennel Club. However, in the 136 years of the Westminster Dog Show, a lab has never been awarded Best in Show. The very traits that we value in Mississippi duck hunting work against them at the shows. Labs are more intent on pleasing their owners and making the camo clad duck hunter happy and proud than in showing off for an audience. Aren’t we glad that labs want to make us look good. Sometimes we need all the help that we can get on a cold Mississippi Duck Hunting day. Boss swears our lab, Coop, is just like me. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The American Kennel Club’s breed standard requires a “strongly built, medium-sized, short-coupled” dog that retrieves game in the water. Judges look for a broad head, powerful jaws, friendly eyes and a wide tail. Your black, yellow or chocolate lab should stand between 22 ½ to 24 ½ inches as a male and 21 ½ to 23 ½ inches as a female with males weighing between 65 to 80 pounds and females between 55 to 70 pounds.

You won’t find a MS Delta Dog in the Garden, but we welcome the opportunity to show them off in a duck blind in the shared duck lease season program, on a guided morning hunt or joining your group to hunt on your exclusive Mississippi Delta duck lease. You wont find any long-haired Pekinese hanging out with us!

Nathan Peden, Director of Wildlife

The Perfect Mississippi Duck Hunting Morning

The Perfect Mississippi Duck Hunting Morning

Last updated : January 3, 2013

A few days prior to the Christmas break, I was able to experience one of those rare mornings that duck hunters' dreams are made of. Hunting with guys from the Quiver River Duck Club group as the sun came up and birds began moving, I looked out in awe while a hundred or more mallards and pintails began descending in a tornado on the harvested corn field, maneuvering for space to land. Fortunately for me, I was observing this marvel of nature from the cover of our blind in that very field, located on the banks of Rattlesnake Bayou in the Bayou Basin near Fighting Bayou Hunting Club. It's one of the four areas included in the MS Delta Ducks shared duck leases program.

Our duck hunting stage was a flooded field with two to three dozen decoys along with a Mojo for movement. I didn't have to hit them hard with calling. Feed chuckles along with a few low, high-balls was the right formula on this morning to get their attention. Though I was pretty pleased with my decoy set up and duck calling, it was our good fortune that the ducks wanted to be in this particular spot on this morning. All the factors combined for one of those once in a season hunts.

There is nothing more exciting in a duck hunter's world than the sight of the sun glistening on a greenhead with wings cupped and feet down as he floats effortlessly into the decoys. I am grateful that my good friend and volunteer field staffer, Jake Chandler, was in on the experience. He was able to bag a perfect, beautiful, fat greenhead that he has been looking for several seasons as a mount for his wall.

I take hunting seriously but did come armed with a thermos of coffee planning on a slow, relaxing Mississippi Delta December duck hunt. It was a cold morning with temperatures in the upper 20s and a light northwest wind. Every time I started to pour a cup, it ended up spilled with the rapid fire action that transpired. I even managed to shoot a mallard while holding a half-poured cup of steaming coffee. It just doesn't get any better - a great group of guys ending the morning with 28 ducks (16 mallards, 6 pintails, 3 gadwall and 3 northern shovelers).

The Making of a Mississippi Duck Hunting Guide

The Making of a Mississippi Duck Hunting Guide

By Nick Sabert
January 19, 2013

This isn't an article written by me but I thought everyone would like to hear a perspective of the Mississippi Delta from a good friend of ours from up north. Hope you enjoy! - Nathan

The term Mississippi Delta is not used very much where I am from – Cincinnati, Ohio. I came to Mississippi three years ago to play for the Ole Miss football team. I do have some roots in the south through my mother who is from Charleston, South Carolina, but I knew little about the Deep South and the way of life that goes along with it. I had never worn cowboy boots, said y’all, or worn camouflage. I was soon immersed in the Mississippi culture when I joined a fraternity at Ole Miss and realized that I had no idea what I was about to get myself into.

The first time I even heard of this place called the Mississippi Delta was from Martin Fisher, son of Bobby Fisher. He told me about miles of flat land full of beans and cotton and these tiny towns where everyone knew everyone. When I imagined the Delta, I thought of something from an old movie. I had to see this place for myself. Martin took me to Greenwood three years ago to meet his family and to see where he was from. What I discovered is that the Delta is more that just cotton and corn fields, it’s a lifestyle.

I met Nathan Peden, the director of MS Delta Ducks, who is a close friend-member of the Fisher family. He drove me around the back roads of Leflore County, spit-balled stories about killing ducks over there, seeing groups of deer over here, and catching a fish bow-fishing off that bridge. I quickly gained the nickname, “Yankee”, because I had no idea about anything he was talking about, and I barely could understand his thick southern accent. I decided from that point I needed a lifestyle change if I was going to last a few more years in the Deep South without people instantly knowing I’m from the North. Nathan took me on my first hunt in a complex of active catfish ponds. From that first hunt, I was locked in to a transition from a Northern Yankee Boy to a Mississippi Delta Boy.

This past season I lived with Nathan and the field staff guides of MS Delta Ducks and only missed about 7 days of duck hunting. I learned the location of just about every duck hole MS Delta Ducks has to offer and became close with the Mississippi Delta staff duck hunting guides. I continue to learn new things from these guys every day and realize that the amount of work and effort they put into the duck hunting programs is unmatched. I try to pull some weight and help with whatever little tasks they need such as picking up duck decoys after a hunt or filming them guiding a group of duck hunters for the day. Believe it or not, some of these hunters have no idea that I am actually from a far-away place in the north called Ohio.

Today, I wear cowboy boots, jeans, and camouflage hats. Some might say I have turned “Delta.” Well, maybe, a “ wanna-be Delta.” On this journey, I have discovered that the Delta is a place for good friends, family, and fond memories. I found all of these things at MS Delta Ducks and from the families that make it all possible.   

MS Delta Ducks Grand Slam Update

MS Delta Ducks Grand Slam Update

Last updated : December 31, 2012

Avid duck hunters scour the waterways, wetlands, marshes and bayous of North America in search of the waterfowl species that compose the North American Grand Slam. The groups hunting the brakes, sloughs, harvested fields and low-lying wetlands comprising the land in the MS Delta Ducks shared duck leases season hunt program also seek to fill their game haulers with harvested ducks constituting the MS Delta Ducks Grand Slam. Included are gadwall, teal, mallards, northern shovelers, pintail, redhead, scaup, specklebelly geese, wigeon, and wood ducks, species that winter in the Mississippi Delta. The pintail, redheads, and wigeon are the rarer members of the group.

Redheads are most commonly found in the habitat complex areas and represent the diving ducks that winter in our area. Hooded mergansers are also common divers with canvasback harvested only occasionally, but the staff agreed that redheads are the best diver specimen to include in the Grand Slam.

Pintail and wigeon are dabbling ducks which are found feeding in harvested grain fields bordering brakes and wetlands of the Delta. Both varieties are elusive and more difficult to decoy and work with a call than gadwall, teal, mallards and northern shovelers. Handsome ducks, they make excellent mounts to add to your collection.

Speckle bellies represent the geese in the Grand Slam. They decoy and work much like mallards and frequently break off from the larger gaggles of snows and blues to land in the decoy spreads of our hunters. With very tasty breast meat, they make a worthy edition to the Grand Slam.

As of the Christmas break, the top contenders are the Waterfowl Widow Makers from Alabama needing a pintail to complete their group MS Delta Ducks Grand Slam, the Duck Dusters of Mississippi who are looking for a scaup and a wigeon, and the 12 Gauge Mafia also from Mississippi who need a redhead and wood duck to complete the Grand Slam. Good luck guys!