Honey Hole Management

There is nothing better for a waterfowler than having a secret spot that produces year after year.  The kind of place that you can take an elder generation or the next generation because you know that you will experience a quality hunt.  Some hunters look hard to find a place they can rely on, other hunters have some property and they create a place that they will always have a hunt.

I hunted one of these honey holes recently when I was invited to my Uncle’s property.  When I got the call from my cousin, he told me “bring extra shells, its gonna be a fast action shoot.”  I’m not sure if he was making fun of my shooting skill or if he was just promising a good hunt.

The “duck pond” was a voluntary restoration implemented to draw area ducks and flight ducks to enjoy high quality hunts.  The pond was built to allow drawdown and to impound water for the fall migration.  The pond is drawn down in mid spring, to allow for productive plants to germinate.  The pond usually floods back up one to two weeks before the season starts.

My cousin and I have had many conversations regarding managing this pond with regards to when to flood and drawdown, hunt spacing to ensure quality hunts and what species of plants to seed during the drawdown.  The pond is never hunted two days in a row and usually has three to four days between hunts to allow the birds to accumulate.  We try not to shoot out all of the ducks when we hunt the pond.  If a few birds continue to use the honey hole, those birds will draw other birds in and create a better opportunity.

While we planned this hunt, we talked about how many days of rest the pond has had and about how many birds were using the pond.  The pond had been hunted on the Tuesday after opening day, but had been left alone until this Sunday hunt.  With four days for the ducks to forget the previous hunt, we settled into the blind 20 minutes before shooting time with great expectations.  Still 10 minutes before shooting time we had 40 mallards swimming in the decoys, only to flush shortly after landing due to the high pitch whine coming from the dogs in the blind.  Birds worked constantly until shooting time when we opened fire.  We had 13 ducks on the water in the first ten minutes, all woodies and mallards.  The morning hunt ended with 19 ducks in a little over an hour of hunting.  As we left the blind with our limit of wood ducks and a few mallards, we looked over our shoulders at another half dozen wood ducks landing in the pond.  I told my cousin to give it a couple days and they will be thick in there again.  The birds that don’t get shot will be fat, happy and ready for migration feeding on the high quality food planted in the pond.

What special place do you have to hunt that will produce a high quality hunt time and time again?  What management decisions do you make to ensure good habitat conditions for when the fall migration starts?


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