Crop Diversity + Water Control = Mallards
For the last seven years or so a friend and I have talked obsessively about how to hold more ducks on our farms. His approach to waterfowl management this year has been crop diversity. His strategy has been to create several water-controlled impoundments adjacent to each other and plant them with corn and millet. After a lot of preparation and anticipation, a plan has come together.
I got the call Friday to come on the ducks are here. Hearing the news I was not disappointed to cancel the hunt in the swamp. We showed up early and drove through the pouring rain to the back of the farm. With time to kill we checked the radar on our phones. It looked like we were going to catch a couple hour pocket with no rain. Luther pulled up in a 1988 one ton Suburban with 44in tires we call the “Donkey”. Everyone pulled a muscle climbing in that thing. He put it in gear and started off down a path that split the impoundment on the right and some hardwoods to the left. There wasn’t a chance the other trucks could’ve made it through this stuff. We pulled up to the waters edge and looked out at about 2 to 3 foot of water with standing corn as far as the headlights stretched. “So you park it here?” no response as he eased down the levee and drove in the water through an unplanted channel straight to a brushed blind. Luther looked back at us, “We could just roll down the windows and toss the deeks out since it’s raining”. We unloaded the gear and ran the truck back to the levee behind a thicket. A dozen Dakota Decoys X-Treme Mallards and a dozen GHG wood ducks were put out. I was impressed with the Dakota Decoy it is incredibly life-like.
After getting cameras set up and finishing the last touch up on the blind we heard chatter in the clouds. It was on. The first pair was a little close and definitely took a full load. Shortly after that a bunch showed up and made a few circles. Each circle was well in range but we wanted them all in at the same time. The scouts broke off and came in like they should. The rest circled once more and followed in. This same scenario played out most of the morning while woodys bombed the decoys and huge groups of geese worked the bean fields behinds us.
The morning grew old, the action simmered out and we had time to soak it all in. Time spent after the hunt looking out over the hole, knowing that all your hard work has come together brings it home.
Planting corn will always do it for you but diversity in your crop is the way to go. Crop diversity is what made this hunt. Using all the ground space possible to pack different types of food keeps the ducks from eating you out too fast. Planting millet in between rows of corn will provide more food and hold ducks longer.