Good Season So Far For Georgia Duck Hunters
Despite the drought, many duck hunters have had a good season already. If you have water in your pond or beaver pond, you are likely to have some woodies. Here are some reports from around the state:
• Altamaha WMA: Jay Daniell of Tifton said the hunting was good on Rhetts Island on Dec. 15 just ahead of a weather front.
“It was worth it to get up at 2 a.m. to make the run,” he said. “There were quite a few trucks at the ramp when we got there at 4:30, and there were hunters at the first two holes we wanted to hunt. You have to have a backup plan to hunt Rhetts.”
Jay and his party set up in open water in Pond 1 and had good luck.
“We were shooting terrible,” he said. “We had some big ducks come in early that we missed. The best hunting was mid morning when people started moving around. It paid off to wait.”
Jay’s party ended up with a drake pintail, two drake redheads, four green-wing teal, a couple of buffleheads and three ruddy ducks.
“There was a big bunch of teal that came in at mid morning. I don’t know if they were riding that front or not.”
A week earlier, on Dec. 8, Jay hunted on Butler Island with a friend who had been drawn for the quota hunt.
“We didn’t draw a very good location,” he said. “We killed 11 teal, but it was all pass shooting. There was better shooting on Rhetts.”
On Dec. 9, Jay hunted Rhetts and his party killed 12 bluebills, a ruddy duck and a bufflehead.
“Rhetts Island is looking good,” he said. “There is a lot of widgeon grass. It is getting back to what it was five or six years ago.”
• Floyd Co.: Greg Grimes of Ball Ground hunted geese with two friends on a wheat field Dec. 8, and all three limited out in short order. “If there had been three more guns, we still would have limited,” he said.
• Dan Denton Waterfowl Area: Oconee WMA Area Manager Bobby Lord said the quota duck hunt on Dec. 8 was “awesome.” Three parties of hunters killed 46 ducks, mostly ringnecks with a mallard, some green-winged teal and a canvasback thrown in.
Pond 2 at Oconee is no longer used for the quota hunt. The pond had chronic problems of being dry for the hunts, so the quota was dropped to three parties from four, and all three parties hunt Pond 1 on the west side of the river.
Bobby said there were some mallards using Pond 1.
“There are a few mallards in there, but it is hard to hunt them because everyone wants to shoot at the ringnecks.”
Leif Stephens of Watkinsville hunted the impoundment Dec. 8, using a priority level of four to get his permit.
“I went down the day before to scout where the ducks were using,” said Leif. “I ran into another guy who was also scouting for the hunt, and we decided to team up.”
Early Saturday morning they pooled their seven-dozen mallard and diver decoys and deployed them in a horseshoe shape. One group of three hunters was on one leg of the horseshoe, and the other three hunted from the opposite leg.
“We had two jerk decoys on each side to put movement in the spread,” he said.
The combined group of six hunters killed 29 ducks.
“We had 24 ringnecks, a bluebill, a mallard, a canvasback, one green-wing teal and a wood duck,” said Leif.
A week later, on the Dec. 15 hunt only six ducks were killed, according to Bobby Lord.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “There were plenty of ducks in there on Friday, and there was a lot of shooting…”
• McDuffie PFA: WRD employee Mike Carnell said 11 hunters showed up on Dec. 8 to hunt the hatchery’s 110-acres of ponds open to duck hunting.
“They shot about 50 times, and I saw two ducks go down,” said Mike.
The impoundments are open Saturday and Wednesday from legal hours until noon with no quota.
“Mostly we have wood ducks, mallards and coots,” said Mike. “The shooting is over pretty early, then the ducks leave.”
• Flint River: Scott Hodges of Byron hunted a beaver pond off the Flint River Dec. 14, and his party of three killed six woodies.
“If you have any water, you ought to have some ducks,” said Scott. “A lot of beaver ponds are mostly dry and ducks are having to bunch up on available water.
“We were fortunate that beavers came in and flooded a new spot. It is full of acorns, and the ducks love it.”
• Lake Seminole: “What I am hearing is that it’s been a little slow,” said taxidermist Rodney Casteel in Macon. “They are killing a few ducks, but the canvasbacks haven’t showed up yet. They usually don’t come in until Christmas, so it may get better later.”
WRD Waterfowl Biologist Greg Balkcom hunted Seminole Dec. 13 in the Fish Pond Drain and Saunders Slough areas and saw only a handful of ringnecks.
“Usually it is the third or fourth week of December before the better numbers of canvasbacks and scaup arrive,” said Greg. “With the two-canvasback limit, duck hunters at Seminole may be in for a real good January.
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