Harsens Island Managed Waterfowl Hunt Area Manager's Update

Review for week ending

  • 10/16/2021

Weather

  • Very warm for most of the week, before cooler weather and good wind on the weekend.

Waterfowl abundance

  • Refuge numbers have plummeted since the season opened. Our refuge counts are only showing 4,000-5,000 ducks in the refuge during the day. However, large numbers of ducks are seen coming into the area and feeding each evening. Hopefully these birds will settle in more once cooler weather rolls in.

Hunting conditions

Overall field conditions are right around average, with a few fields worse than average and a few better than average. All zones will again be open to 1-4 hunters and we are returning to 2 draws each day, 7 days a week. Small grains across the entire area suffered due to incredibly high rain events in June and early July, but a bumper crop of moist soil plants makes up a lot of that loss and plenty of food will be available for waterfowl.

  • 1-18: Zones 3 and 4 have much better corn than last year but will still have below average corn. Deer damage resulted in some patchy cover there. Zone 13 has almost no cover due to short brittle stalks and deer damage and zone 17 has very skinny cover that will likely deteriorate quickly with hunter use. The remainder of the zones have average to above average conditions. Zones 8 and 12 are again eliminated this year.

  • 21-27: All of these zones are good to excellent. St. Clair Flats Waterfowlers put exclusion fencing around 25-27 to minimize goose damage which was very successful. 26 and 27 have some of the best cover they've had in years.

  • 28-30: Zones 28 and 29 have average cover overall. The corn in zone 30 was almost completely wiped out by geese and has very little cover overall. However, a neighboring sorghum strip did better than expected and will provide some limited cover. Overall, one of the worst zones on the area for cover.

  • Marshes: The east marsh is about 2-3" shallower than 2020 and the west marsh is about 6" shallower than 2020. The west marsh is still quite deep in some ponds, though much easier than last year.

Hunter numbers

  • We had 795 hunter trips in the past week, bringing our season total up to 1,254 hunter trips. Most draws were in the mid 20's for party size and our lowest was 6 parties Wednesday afternoon. This past weekend was the second and final reserved hunt weekend which kept party numbers down.

Waterfowl harvest

  • This was an extremely slow opening week for us, harvesting just 602 ducks in the past week. Our total for the season is 1,019 ducks through 10/17. This is approximately half of what we have harvested opening week in the past several years. Our best day was Sunday with 184 ducks harvested and an average of 1.01 ducks/trip. Our slowest day was Thursday with only 41 ducks shot all day.

What to expect this week

  • We have warm weather forecast until Thursday evening, when a cold front comes through. Friday, Saturday and Sunday all are forecast to be considerably cooler and should have better duck activity.

  • Our draw process will look similar to last year, with cards issued through the window in the trailer outside and the draw conducted over the radio. Our radio station will again be 91.1.

  • New this year, parties must turn in the top sheet of their permit prior to the draw in order to participate.

Upcoming events

  • Our November youth hunt will be Friday November 5th during the afternoon hunt. You must have a youth in your party to participate and a maximum of two adults are allowed per party. We will be holding Veteran/Active Duty priority draws on Veteran's Day on November 11th. You must have a Veteran or active duty service member in your party to participate in both the am or pm hunt on the 11th.

Other comments

  • The use of all motion winged decoys remains prohibited at the managed area.