Harsens Island Managed Waterfowl Hunt Area Manager's Update

Review for week ending

  • 11/27/2021

Weather

  • Much cooler temperatures and our first real ice of the season, with a couple good windy days and some snowfall over the weekend.

Waterfowl abundance

  • The little bit of ice Monday night and Tuesday brought some new birds into the area. Green wing teal numbers dropped a bit, though some die hards are still here. Mallard and black duck numbers increased. There are still a few pintail, wigeon, and shovellers in the refuge but gadwall and wood ducks are essentially gone.

Hunting conditions

We are at full pool for water levels.

  • 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 890 hunter trips this week, bringing our season total to 6,566 hunter trips. We set a new season high with 85 parties on the afternoon of 11/26 (Black Friday). With the ice most mornings, our morning hunt participation dropped off, with a low of 11 parties on 11/28 AM and 12 parties 11/23 AM. Generally speaking, there were 3-4 times as many parties for PM draws as AM draws this week.

Waterfowl harvest

  • The hunting remained good this week as the cold weather forced birds to get up and feed. The ice, cold, and fresh birds created some really good hunting Monday through Wednesday, averaging over 1.5 ducks/hunter trip those days. The rest of the week was right around or just under a 1.0 average. Overall, we harvested 1,118 ducks this week, for an average of 1.26 ducks/hunter trip.

  • For the regular season, we are now up to a total of 8,310 ducks harvested in 6,566 hunter trips, for an average of 1.27 ducks/hunter trip, to go along with a record high 191 geese harvested.

What to expect this week

  • This will be our final week of regular season hunting. As of Monday morning, we had as much as ¾" of ice in places. We will have ice Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, but the weather is forecast to warm up quite a bit Thursday and Friday. I do not expect us to fully freeze out, but morning hunts will likely remain slower than afternoons.

  • 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

  • We will be open for the late split on January 1 regardless of conditions. Watch for updates later in December for what the conditions for that hunt will look like, but plan on dry fields.

Other comments

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