• Aaron Yetter

Opening day ahead: Yetter surveys hunter success

With duck and Canada goose seasons opening on Saturday, Aaron Yetter's latest blog entry from his aerial surveys for the Illinois Natural History Survey is apt.. Survey numbers are posted at

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources links the surveys on their site at

Yetter pulled some interesting numbers out on hunter success near the bottom of the post.

Here is his blog:

October 14th, 2015 – Aerial Waterfowl Inventory Blog

We were able to fly the waterfowl survey on Wednesday for both the Illinois and Mississippi

rivers. Many of the refuges and gun clubs were adding water and getting ready for duck

season openers. We found waterfowl numbers were pretty normal for mid-October,

and duck abundance was 14% above average along the Illinois River with non-mallard

dabbling ducks dominating the numbers including: northern pintail, American green-winged

teal, northern shoveler, and gadwall. Ruddy ducks have also started to show up in their

usual locations. The Mississippi River was slightly (17%) below average; however,

a couple key refuges were just starting to move water. Pintails and green-wings

were the most abundant ducks along the Mississippi. For more information about the

waterfowl survey, check out our webpage at

New migrants arrived on Thursday morning as confirmed by friends in the field. I heard

reports of white-fronted geese on both the Illinois and Mississippi. I expect

even more migrants will arrive with our temperatures dipping into the low 30’s over

the weekend. It’s starting to feel “ducky” out there. To borrow a quote from Scott Schlueter

at Anderson Lake SFWA, duck season lasts 2 months of the year – the rest is just filler!

Have you ever wondered how many ducks the average waterfowl hunter harvests in Illinois?

According to the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Human Dimensions Research Group, the

average duck hunter harvested between 0.6-0.8 ducks/day afield or 7.5-11.0 ducks/season

during 2003-2013. This was somewhat lower than the average harvest rate of

1.1 ducks/hunter trip on lands managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

in 2012. Waterfowl hunters at the Ted Shanks Conservation Area along the

Mississippi River in Missouri took nearly 1.7 ducks/trip in 2014. This rivaled the

impressive harvest rate of 2.6 ducks/day at the Emiquon Preserve along the Illinois River

near Havana in 2010; however, harvest was much lower at Emiquon during fall 2014

when they took slightly over 1.3 ducks/trip. The famed Otter Slough Conservation Area

in southeast Missouri boasted over 2.4 ducks/hunter in 2014. Interestingly, Otter Slough

achieved this impressive harvest rate with their intensive moist-soil management program

and limited amounts of corn. This year, 2015, only 1% of the site was planted to

agricultural crops. Almost every hunter has a few good days duck hunting during fall,

but to consistently harvest ducks throughout the season is truly impressive.

Good luck hunting this week and stay tuned for more updates next week…….

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