Waterfowl Hunting Generates Income
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WATERFOWL HUNTING GENERATES INCOME
By Don Gasaway
 
The comical quacking of a mallard hen and the dawning of a morning with the streaks of orange across a grey sky can make waterfowl hunting a very pleasurable experience.  The impressive flocks of mallards exploding from the water provide the hunter with a quality outdoor experience.  Matching ones skills with gun and game calls against the natural wariness of the waterfowl provides a challenge unmatched in other sports.
 
The face of waterfowl hunting in the southern Midwest has been gradually changing for several years.  A change in emphasis from goose to duck hunting has helped to relieve the financial woes of farmers and hunting club owners.
 
According to University of Illinois human dimensions scientist Craig Miller, each duck harvested by a hunter has a monetary value of $453 to the Illinois economy.
 
Every dollar spent by a hunter generates $1.86 to the local economy.  In general waterfowl hunting provides 2,556 jobs and contributes $20.5 million in state and local taxes.
 
The change has not been cheap for the landowner.  In order to flood cornfields, wells are required.  The club owners seemed to come to the same conclusion at the same time.  As a result more birds hold in the area.
 
The levees around the fields and wells in them have been a considerable expense.  But, they yield results in increased hunter days.  Foul weather or not the ducks will come and stay for the full sixty day season.
 
The flooded corn attracts large flocks of mallards.  Hunters report harvests of other species such as wood ducks, gadwall, widgeon, pintail, teal and shoveler.
 
The geese stay up north as long as the weather permits.  The ducks will move south regardless of the activity of the geese and the weather.  The more reliable supply of birds makes duck hunting more popular with the club owners and hunters.
 
There are two basic types of ducks that visit here in the Ohio River basin: dabbling ducks and diving ducks.  The first to arrive are the dabbling ducks.  They include such species as mallards, pintails, black ducks, wood ducks and the teal.  These are the ducks that like the shallow, weedy slews, ponds and streams.  They feed on the aquatic plants and seeds.
 
Later the diving ducks join the dabblers for the rest of the winter.  These ducks like the deeper water where they feed on aquatic plants and invertebrates that they find beneath the surface of the water.  They will dive to depths of three to seven feet in search of food.  This class of birds includes the canvasbacks, redheads, scaup, ring-necked ducks and goldeneye.