Duck hunting within this private land Association is mostly within Missouri, some in Kansas and rarely in Iowa.
Private Wetlands and Blinds
Our private wetlands we have developed through adding levees and in/out flow water controls to existing natural wetlands. Our land acquisition, development and annual maintenance has been an ongoing endeavor since 1981.
There has been a growing segment of Association hunters that have enjoyed pond and field set hunts over both crop stubble or crop fields adjoining ponds and irrigation lakes. As a self guided hunter organization that hunter may pick his favored waterfowl spot be it marsh, flooded crop, soughs, oxbows and spend more time there. Or, that same hunter may enjoy mixing his hunts on a given trip over wet and dry sets, from different blinds on different wetlands. While being able to have choice from day to day of where to hunt may seem a small point, over time it becomes a motivator to spend more more time on the land rather than any where else.
As strictly an unguided hunter organization that allows Association hunters to hunt any time during the season it is common for hunters to follow the migration south along the Mississippi Flyway from the north. Concurrently, many southern waterfowl hunters enjoy traveling north to meet the migration peak in Missouri. Hunters from the east comment frequently on the variety of species to hunt within Missouri not available in their home state. In all cases regardless of where the hunter travels from it is the ability to schedule a blind, pond, hole, field or wade-in area on the hunter’s schedule that many comment on as making the hunt satisfying.
At no time will a hunter be denied a hunt. Any one hunter may not always get his first choice of blind on a given wetland, however there will be a blind open for him.
The remainder of this page discussion is focused on our exclusive use Missouri wetlands. Other unguided waterfowl hunt descriptions are available on other pages. Advance to our pond hunt discussion s one more alternative to the hunts we offer.
Why Missouri Duck Hunting
Missouri duck hunting is prime due to the large expanse of the Lower Missouri River Basin covering more than half of Missouri. All of the Association managed wetlands exist within Missouri’s sub-basins. And, we are not alone. There are plenty of other private land groups out there that collectively develop a large expanse of waterfowl attracting food plots attractive to waterfowl. A well recognized advantage demonstrated by the layover of migratory birds on most seasons. In our case of this discussion it is about our wetlands with the permanent fully camouflaged blinds and water lever.
Kansas duck hunting is largely pond hunts and combination field and pond sets. The Association has not developed any Kansas waterfowl areas. this is based on our strength that we are not limited to the driving distance around a lodge for our private land availability due to our not having a lodge. Hunters will lodge in local motels at their expense. This allows the Association the freedom to spend its money where the best return for the hunters is to be gained. A second order effect is without a lodge on the where we hunt there is less day to day human presence leaving Association lands for the execution of the hunt alone.
None of our Iowa land is suited for duck hunting.
Waterfowl Hunt Enjoyment
Key to hunter satisfaction are the quality of our blinds and wetlands.
This satisfaction continues in the fact that no one Association hunter is limited to just one blind or waterfowl location. Each has a choice from day to day of which blind and or wetlands he would like to hunt. Some blinds are easy dry land walk up with shooting pools knee deep while others are suited for a small drag boat to carry gear and require chest waders both to access the blind and for the shooting pool.
All blinds, wade-in and layout boat areas are at a variable distance from the designated parking area. Some are easy ten minute walks, while the furthest is 2 1/2 miles. Our parking area, designated trails to the blind, wade-in or layout area allows the use of ATV’s. Remember to bring a camouflaged cover when parking the ATV or other equipment. If not wanting the extra work of an ATV or a drag boat, a two wheel hand (deer) cart are also used regularly by Association hunters.
As a self guided duck hunting group the hunter is responsible for his own decoys. All may hunt the spread of his choice with 2 dozen to 200 being the common range.
Scheduling a hunt is easy as a telephone call and requires no long range planning.
The basis for setting a reservation is the online map library Association hunters gain access to after joining. The waterfowl maps are two pages with the first a road map showing how to travel to the wetlands. The second page is a wire diagram of the wetlands, blinds, pools, etc. That covers the ‘where’ to hunt. When to hunt is another choice left to the hunter when planning his self guided hunt. Read about our duck hunting reservations developed over a long time to practice for what works in terms of parity to all Association hunters.
When to hunt follows several motivators.
The first choice of when to hunt is to get an early season local bird hunt, largely woody’s and some greenheads. It is typical the opening weekend of the earliest zone to open in Missouri, the north zone to see a bit of a rush of hunters seeking to get in the first hunt of the season. These hunters are mostly locals that will hunt the early season, then go after pheasant while waiting for peak migration. They will then hunt the peak hard then finish off January flushing pheasant. Those with any energy left over continue after waterfowl may continue their hunt with late goose. That would be followed by spring season snow goose capping off the spring with a turkey hunt. That is is anyone has that level of energy.
Another approach is to watch the Missouri Department Of Conservation (MDC) waterfowl reports readily available on their web style. Balancing the MDC observations against any one of the migration reporting web sites will give further definition of when to hunt. This will offer those with flexibly in their schedule to narrow down the optimum time to hunt.
For those on absolute fixed schedules a typical season will see the peak of the migration somewhere between the third week in November through the third week of December. A fixed schedule for those that have dogs will be able during the hunt itself pick and choose day to day between duck hunting and pheasant or quail. Watching the weather combined with our allowing reservation right to the day of the hunt makes this possible.
One of our many intangible benefits is that our hunters’ age structure is in the high 40’s. This more seasoned hunter desires above all else a good hunt. That is enjoyment of the day is supreme. Filled bags always bring a smile, it is however the quality of our duck hunting that brings the hunters back. That quality experience is one without close setup, limited skybusting although we would not like to see any and inability to steal flights due to separation of hunters.
And, that is what it is all about – a quality hunt for the unguided hunter. We take away the public waterfowl hunter mentality allowing all the leisure to make the duck hunting all prefer.
While the current interest may be unguided waterfowl hunts, for the same price all Association hunters may also deer, turkey or upland bird hunt the entire season as well. Not all can spend that kind of time in the field. No one has that level of energy. For those on limited time wishing to concentrate on waterfowl they will be able to do so. Read about the other upland bird, deer and turkey opportunities available to every duck hunter.
This duck hunting page is a brief presentation of how we manage our hunts. As a business and not a club. We have a customer service approach that insures parity to all separating us from the more common club mentality.
Our Missouri wetlands, the larger piece in the center showing a mixture of open water and small sections of flooded timber. The real value of this picture is showing the large expanse of surface water through out this entire watershed. That combined with food plots brings in the waterfowl. Have a review of our Missouri wetlands aerials and water level pictures of our blinds.
We build, place and maintain our own blinds. The camouflage covering is Rippy Grass. We have relocated blinds over the years by observing how birds work any of the shooting pools, prevailing winds and changes resulting from surrounding land use. Most are placed with the goal of the best combination and that doe sometimes results in the less than desired east facing blind.This duck hunting page is a brief presentation of how we manage our hunts. As a business and not a club. We have a customer service approach that insures parity to all separating us from the more common club mentality.
Waterfowl and something more important.
Note on the picture back: “I’ve killed a lot of birds in my life, but watching your son follow and really enjoy doing it, is the greatest yet.”
“The prize of the year. This is the first band I’ve taken in ten years. My son was with me and made it even that much more special. I can’t wait until he gets his first.”
Duck Hunting Over The Years
Duck hunting has been a long time business for this Association dating back to the first enhanced wetlands built in 1981. Before that time the Association waterfowl hunter made due with whatever nature provided on her own.
Duck Hunting History
This duck hunting section covers pictures dating through our entire history. The intent is to show we have been in the waterfowl business a long time, that we know very well the better Missouri waterfowl areas and we simply enjoy pictures.
There can never be too many youth hunter pictures.
Duck Hunting Choice
Flexibility of when to hunt, where to hunt and hunt the entire range of available migratory birds.
Missouri hunts are primarily after Mallards within the Missouri portion of the Mississippi Flyway. There are others such as the Merganser, as a bonus.
In the background is one of our Missouri waterfowl areas built for chest wader accessibility. The blind is on the far left with the shooting pool show immediately behind the hunter and to the right.
Missouri Waterfowl and Location
This shooting pool is 40+ acres of water with 2 blinds, no wade-in areas. Surrounding this marsh edge is farm ground and timber. The key facet however is location along a key micro flyway. It is part of a larger watershed that aligns with the migration from the Central Flyway. Dominating this locality is the Missouri River watershed out of Montana to where it joins the Mississippi Flyway. Just how refined location can be with the better Missouri waterfowl areas is illustrated by what we do not spend money on. Just three hours drive east we turned down an offer to lease a large WRP development at half the cost of the one pictured. That decision was entirely based on location off the local micro flyway.
Pictured are two hunters that have been in the Association for over 20 and 10 years respectively. They make an annual trip getting together for their Missouri duck hunting event of the year making memories and friendships anew each season. At this point in their hunter career it is a matter of enjoying the day.
The hunter on the left starts his hunts in Canada in September works his way south with Missouri his primary focus especially so for the last 8 – 10 seasons.
Every hunter can work his own dog and any hunter that does not have a dog no longer has an excuse not to have one. All may hunt with their dog each time out. Dog work is also safe due to our lower water levels and easy access to the waterfowl sites meaning boats are not necessary. However, during the freeze/thaw cycles we have each winter a dog needs a flotation device.
Unlike public waterfowl areas, within this Association, in most cases after the hunt four wheel access to retrieve equipment is permissible. In this case the blind was back in the trees, they also shot from one of the wade-in areas.
Our hunts are made to best serve the interest of the hunter having a good hunt. In this case of truck access near the water’s edge the hump in and out of the blinds was a 1/4 mile. Come prepared for a self guided waterfowl experience rather than a guide service with a near by lodge with wet bar.
A big reminder is courtesy to any other hunters that may be on the water. That means vehicle movement well after the day’s hunt is done.
Let me take a moment and send you my thoughts on MAHA waterfowl places versus public and private ground that I hunted this year.
Overall bird numbers, especially mallards were not as prevalent as years past on all lands (member since spring of 98). Overall, we harvested 250-275 birds this season, down from about 500 last season….this also includes snow geese during the conservation season, which has not opened yet for this season. Bottom-line up front was to scout and find the birds before hunting.
Consistent success was always preceded with an afternoon or even a whole day spent traveling and finding the birds before hand. Hunting areas without scouting resulted in a great time hunting, but not many birds in the bag. Unlike upland birds, the waterfowl habits and locations changed almost daily. You had to have several spots in mind over a 50 to 75 mile radius to be scouted. It worked well for us, because of four MAHA members who could get out and look at different places. This resulted in sometimes finding birds and when calling the office to reserve the property it was already locked up for the weekend. Hence the comment on having multiple locations to try.
Many of my ponds that are on private ground just failed to have birds this year, can’t answer why, but water was just vacant of birds. The converse on MAHA land; what had birds in the past generally had birds this year, but you had to scout to be sure. On more than one occasion I would check a place one day and see 10 birds on it and one of our group would check it the next day and 50-75 birds would be present.
Public hunting ground was poor at best this year. Hunted Bob Brown, Benedictine Bottoms, Nodaway Valley and the Missouri River. All had birds, but the crowds really detracted from a quality experience when hunting and ALWAYS someone skybusting and setting up too close to your blind. People have even begun placing placards on the Missouri River in order to reserve a public sandbar!! and place permanent blinds.
Although MAHA has increased its dues over the years, it is still the best bang for the dollar. I have still yet to see, much less hunt over 90% of the waterfowl areas that MAHA has leased. So come this off-season (between spring snow migration and turkey season) I will be reserving as many areas as possible that can be scouted for future waterfowl hunts. In closing, thanks to MAHA and your staff for your hard work. I can think of no group as egotistical, demanding and hardcore as waterfowlers (and that’s said after doing 20 years in the Infantry) and you guys do a great job of taking care of us along with all the upland and big game hunters. Thanks for a job well done. God Bless to all as we start another year. Don’t forget those serving/sacrificing for our country overseas so we can spend time with our families and friends.