Ha – sorry. I couldn’t help myself with the headline. But here’s some good news about ducks from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released its preliminary report today on breeding ducks and habitats, based on surveys conducted in May and early June. Total populations were estimated at 48.6 million breeding ducks in the surveyed area. This estimate represents a 7 percent increase over last year’s estimate of 45.6 million birds, and is 43 percent above the 1955-2010 long-term average. This year’s estimate is a record high and is only the sixth time in the survey’s history that the total duck population exceeded 40 million.” Read more here at the Ducks Unlimited site.
Guy De La Valdene is easy to envy. He has spent his life fishing and hunting, has owned a quail plantation in Florida, and has life-long friendships with guys like Jim Harrison and Russel Chatham. Valdene also writes, and when he does, he’s good enough at it to give me another reason to be jealous of him.
One of his earliest works is Making Game: An Essay On Woodcock. I just picked up a first edition of this book. I’m not that far into it, but when I finished the foreward last night and set the book down, I knew I was I going to enjoy the remaining 202 pages.
“The morality behind hunting is buried beneath a dozen reasons, all of which are valid, but none of which ultimately satisfy me. It wouldn’t occur to me to hurt an animal unless I were actively hunting it. I condemn cruelty of any kind, and yet I have crippled more birds than most. The contradictions are hypocritical, but, even though I cannot explain them, I do not feel like a hypocrite. What I am is a bird hunter, and sanity’s sake I will leave it at that.”
-Guy De La Valdene, from Making Game: An Essay On Woodcock.
Just when I’m heading back to South Dakota for the season opener….
PHEASANT COUNTS DECLINE FROM HISTORIC HIGHS, BUT STILL GOOD
PIERRE, S.D. – Pheasant brood counts indicate that pheasant numbers in South Dakota have returned to levels below the remarkable high counts of the past few years.
However, the pheasant population in the main part of the state’s pheasant range will still provide quality hunting opportunities.
From 2003 through 2010, the statewide pheasant-per-mile index was at levels not seen in the previous 40 years. The index this year is 46 percent lower than the 2010 index and 41 percent lower than the average of the past 10 years.
“We observed abnormally high mortality of hen pheasants during the brutal winter of 2010-11,” explained Jeff Vonk, Secretary of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, “The loss of that reproductive potential inhibited the ability of our pheasant population to rebound to the record levels that we have enjoyed in recent years.”
Declines in the counts were consistent across the state and most pronounced in eastern South Dakota, where winter’s grip was tightest and grassland nesting habitat is diminished….