Sleeping With The Enemy
(the pros and cons of duck refugee camps)
by Johnny "Dr. Duck" Everhart

Opportunities in public waterfowl hunting have grown enormously over the past few years. Superfuges like Grand Pass, Bob Brown, Fountain Grove and Four Rivers, with their expansive un-huntable areas and attractive food plots continue to get bigger and bigger. Now, federal wetland funding programs, working jointly with the Conservation Department, have recently brought about the purchase of hundreds of acres of flooded farmland and communities along the Missouri River.

This is great for the guys who have clubs next to these Duck Refugee Camps, or actually hunt these public grounds. These Superfuges are real duck magnets. I know for a fact they've stopped millions of ducks short of my little marsh to the south, and held them there until they decided to move on ... non-stop to Arkansas.

We had something similar to a Superfuge back in the early 1980's when Truman Lake was built. It was a blessing to our private clubs along the Big Creek and Grand River bottoms. But, after the flood of 1993, which caused the death of hundred's of years worth of pecan and oak trees, Truman Lake hunters can now only hope for high waters that flood the crop areas. This happened during the 1998 season. It was good for the waterfowl hunters, and very costly for the farmers.

Anyway ... Duck Refugee Camps are here to stay, which is great for increasing the overall waterfowl population and, of course, the hunters in neighboring clubs. But, for those of you who don't own clubs near areas like these, there are still a few things you can do that might help your season be a little more productive.

KEEP 'EM HEALTHY - Plant all the food plots you can, but also leave plenty of native plants such as smart weed that will also attract ducks and give them the extra nutrition they need.

GIVE 'EM A REST - Create areas on your marsh that are not hunted very often, or hunt a different blind everyday. If you are surrounded by other clubs, get together and reach an agreement to stop hunting at noon or 1 pm everyday and leave the area to the ducks. This will create an attractive roosting and resting area in the evenings.

DON'T BE A GAME HOG - Limits are set annually according to the duck numbers ... it doesn't mean you have to take that many everyday. Make sure everyone in your club agrees with this. They should also agree that hens are not fair game, even though they are allowed by law.

The Superfuges and Refugee Camps may always have more than you can ever hope to offer the millions of traveling ducks. But, your quiet little marsh will do just fine for those few special flocks, on a bluebird day, that create one of those many memorable times in the blind.