|Rice and Ducks!|
Rice and Conservation
Hunting over large quantities of rice is becoming a scarce proposition bur rice production still offers one of the best ways to concentrate waterfowl. For those who produce rice in small plots for waterfowl, they must be careful not to flood too early before opening day, since the ducks may show up in droves. This can be the equivalent of a fireworks display for managers, with the influx of ducks a spectacular sight, but they can also eat out the rice in a hurry and then be gone for good.
Large rice production areas still exist in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas, and in California’s Central Valley. These large areas are part of the USA Rice Federation and in February of 2013 they formed a partnership with Ducks Unlimited to raise awareness about the relationship between rice production and waterfowl. These working rice lands represent a significant portion of the areas where waterfowl overwinter each year.
During my visit in October of 2013 to Southwest Louisiana I was able to witness one of the large rice operations at Grosse Savanne. Field Operations Manager Doug Miller represents DU on the Rice Stewardship Partnership, and has been fine-tuning the Grosse Savanne rice fields for the past twelve years. Their 2000-acres of rice production annually attracts wads of waterfowl and speckle belly geese too, and during my visit it was thousands of migratory blue-winged teal that were on site for a visit during their southward migration.
|Lots of info on page 30|
Coastal Plain Game Plan
Plantation manager Tadpole Baldwin is native to Colleton County in South Carolina, and his family has a specific tradition of managing for waterfowl. The 2014 menu for migratory ducks at the private plantation he oversees will be a mix of approximately 600-acres of corn and 2500-acres of moist soil management. Whereas one may not manipulate any corn crop and remain legal for hunting waterfowl, the mowing and burning of natural vegetation is considered a common management practice and that area remains legal to hunt.
“The corn crop isn’t flooded using the Edisto River until just days before the waterfowl season comes in,” says Baldwin. “Nature will then take its course over time and degrade the stalks to where the corn is either blown down to where the ducks are, or perhaps the ears will simply sag enough to where they can stretch out and reach it.”
While the mere sight of flooded corn is likely to signal waterfowl to drop in, this coastal area has unique food sources that may have an even more powerful affect. “We’ll have about 1000-acres of Redroot flat sedge that is a natural food source for dabbling ducks. The Redroot prefers the areas that have peat in the soil complex, and the fall panicum grasses do better where we find mud and silt from the river.”
To view past blog entries from Mossy Oak GameKeepers Magazine click on Spring 2014 - Summer 2014 - Winter 2013