Dec
09

Self-guided Inland Duck Hunt Rotation

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The following is a rotation list for self-guided inland duck hunts on central Texas lakes, predominantly within 90 miles of Austin.  We will hunt either Lakes Granger, Stillhouse Hollow, Belton, or Somerville in their Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).  If none of the above lakes are producing ducks we might hunt ducks further away.

I, Randy Rowley, can take up to three adult hunters (four counting me) on my 2019 20′ 3″ camo Excel Bay Pro 203 with a 115 HP Yahama motor, which has a camo blind (see below).

All four lakes are administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CoE).  We will hunt until 8:30 – 10:30 AM, depending on how the ducks are flying and the weather conditions (ducks often fly longer when it is overcast).

Granger does not require a CoE lake hunting permit.  However, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) leases Granger’s WMA’s; consequently, a TPWD Public Hunting Permit is required.  The cost is $48/year.  If we decide to hunt Granger we will hunt in the San Gabriel, Willis Creek, or Sore Finger WMAs.  Granger is 41 miles from my house.

Stillhouse and Belton do not require a TPWD Public Hunting Permit nor a CoE lake hunting permit (see http://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/stillhouse/Recreation/Hunting.asp). If we decide to hunt Stillhouse we will hunt in the Union Grove WMA on the island (the side depends on the direction of the wind).  Stillhouse is 11 miles further from my house than Granger, so we’ll have to leave 15 minutes earlier than we would if we were going to hunt Granger.  If we decide to hunt Belton, we will hunt either the Owl Creek or the Iron Bridge WMAs.  Belton is 36 miles further than Granger, so we’ll have to leave 45 minutes earlier than we would if we were going to hunt Granger.

Somerville does not require a CoE lake hunting permit.  You’ll need a TPWD Public Hunting Permit if we hunt in the TPWD day hunt area.  If we hunt in the undeveloped area (the area designated by the yellow line on the below map) we must hunt from my boat, be far enough from the shoreline that our shot will not fall on dry land, and must not set up so that we’re shooting in the direction of the shoreline.  If we hunt in the “developed” area of Nails Creek Park (the area designated by the orange line on the below map) we must hunt from my boat at least 200 yards from shore.  We cannot hunt in the area designated by the red line on the below map.  The CoE Day Hunt Area does not require a TPWD Public Hunting Permit, although we can only hunt from the shore in that area (we can’t hunt from my boat).  Somerville is 54 miles further than Granger, so we’ll have to leave an hour earlier than we would if we were going to hunt Granger.

We also might hunt a pond east of Austin.  If so, there is a $20/hunter charge and we won’t be using my boat.  We’ll walk a short distance and hunt behind a blind or camo netting or use natural cover.  If we hunt the pond we can take up to five hunters, counting Chris Campbell, the host.

NOTE: Do not attempt to arrange a hunt with Chris.  To be fair to everyone these hunts need to go through me.  If I decide that it won’t over-pressure the pond, I will first contact Chris.  If he is agreeable to it I’ll let everyone on the rotation know so the other people on the rotation will have an opportunity to go.  If guys are trying to arrange their own hunts it is bypassing the other guys on the rotation.  That’s not fair to them.  It would also contribute to over-pressuring the pond.  If we over-pressure it then it will ultimately result in poor future hunts, as ducks will start to shun the pond.  That’s why good guides have a half dozen or more ponds that they rotate their hunters to.  I have asked Chris to refer any hunt requests from guys on the FCS rotation to me.

In addition, Chris is concerned about guys letting their friends know about the pond and then them starting to contact his grandfather directly.  If you have friends who might want to hunt have them contact me and I’ll add them to the rotation.  If we have people start knocking on his grandfather’s door asking to hunt it will shut the door on this property and ruin it for everyone.

How the Rotation WorksHunters who want to participate must sign, if they have not already, a lifetime FCS Liability WaiverYou do not have to be an FCS member to be added to this rotation; however, the Event Hierarchy (pecking order) applies. 

The following people are on the Duck Hunting Rotation list for the 20XX season (this is fictional):

  1. Tim
  2. Ron
  3. Bob
  4. Roy
  5. Jim
  6. Joe

So, let’s say that Tim, Ron, Roy, and Joe all want to go on the Belton trip.  As my boat can only bear the weight of four hunters (counting myself) and it only has spots for four hunters to shoot, I’ll only take three of them.  In this case, Tim, Ron, and Roy would get to go, as they are above Joe in the rotation.  After a hunter goes on one of my self-guided duck hunting trips I move him or her to the bottom of the rotation.  So, after the Belton trip, the rotation would be revised to:

  • Bob
  • Jim
  • Joe
  • Tim
  • Ron
  • Roy

Whenever a hunter asks to join the rotation I start him or her at the bottom of the list.  If someone who is on the rotation says no or doesn’t respond to an offer to go on a trip he or she will never drop in the rotation.  Nor can anyone leapfrog him or her in the rotation.  The only exceptions to the rotation are the boat captain (me) always gets to go on trips where we’ll bring my boat and the host (Chris Campbell) will always get to go on trips where we hunt the farm pond, as will I as I have the decoys and blind.  Just as rotating ensures that everyone on a volleyball team has an opportunity to serve and play by the net, rotating the event lists in this manner ensures that everyone eventually will be near the top of the list.

Cost:

  • We’ll split the vehicle and boat gas (the amount depends on the distance traveled and the number of people sharing the gas).
  • There is also often a per person park entrance fee (usually $5 each) or a boat launch fee that we will split (no more than $5 each).
  • If we take a toll road, because we’re running late, we’ll split that fee.
  • If we hunt the pond east of Austin, there is a $20/hunter charge.
  • We’ll stop at Whataburger on the way to the lake/pond and will probably stop for second breakfast or brunch on the way home.

What to Bring:

  • Hunting license, state migratory bird stamp, federal duck stamp, and possibly the annual public hunting permit (if we’re hunting Granger or the TPWD section of Somerville).  If you bought a super combo license it includes your hunting license and migratory bird stamp, but does not include a federal duck stamp or the annual public hunting permit, so you’ll have to also buy them.
  • Shotgun (a 12 gauge piston operated semi-automatic with a 3″ chamber is recommended)
  • Camo or dull shotgun case (a floating case is recommended as cloth cases will get wet and muddy)
  • Shotgun shells (Winchester Xpert shells or equivalent) in 2 shot (the 1550 FPS variant) chambered for 3 inch (if your gun is also chambered for 3 inch) are recommended.  I do not recommend anything smaller than 4 shot.  10 gauges and 3 1/2 inch shells in 3 1/2 inch chambered 12 gauges are overkill for ducks, in my opinion.  Steel shot (if of adequate size) will kill ducks – there is no need for Hevi-shot, Tungsten, Bismuth, etc.  You’ll pay a lot more for those shells and they aren’t needed.  You’ll not need more than two boxes and will probably shoot a lot less than a box.
  • Camo or dull shotgun shells bag, vest, or bandoleer (a floating blind bag is recommended)
  • Headlamp or cap light
  • Camo outer hunting clothes (including a face mask or face paint – absolutely essential).  If rain is predicted bring rain gear.
  • Waders (absolutely essential except on the pond hunts).  Breathable waders are recommended for warmer hunts.  Neoprene waders are recommended for colder hunts (if you wear 5mm thick neoprene waders on a November hunt you’ll probably cook yourself).
  • Drinks and snacks (optional; drinks are highly recommended).  There are storage compartments in my boat to put your drinks and snacks in.
  • A small ice chest to take your ducks home in (if you get any)

If we hunt from my boat you’ll not need a bucket, stool, or a chair, as my boat has fishing chairs and benches.  However, if we have to hunt from shore (because the cover is too far from shore and my boat will stick out like a sore thumb) we’ll use my boat to ferry us to where we’ll hunt, park it 100 or so yards away, and sit in the cover.  If we hunt the pond to the east of Austin you’ll need a bucket, stool, or a chair.

I have some extra items, such as waders, floating gun cases, headlamps, cap lights, a bucket, a stool, etc.  If you need to borrow an item(s) let me know before we leave.

I usually start out with an improved cylinder choke.  If the ducks aren’t coming into the dekes and the shots are passing shots, I’ll switch to a modified.

I have 94 decoys (23 redheads, 17 pintails (four of which are on a jerk rig that I use when it’s not windy), 14 gadwall, 14 mallards (counting two quiver ducks, a pulsator duck, a motoized duck, and a wind duck – I only use the wind duck when it’s windy enough to spin the wings and when it’s too windy to use the motorized duck), 13 teal, six canvasbacks, six buffleheads, and a widgeon.  In addition, FCS has 33 decoys (25 teal and 8 wood ducks) in its inventory.  Combining my decoys and the FCS decoys I have 127 decoys.  However, I’ll only bring decoys for the types of ducks found on the lake that we’re going to.  For example, I’ve never seen canvasbacks or buffleheads on Somerville or Granger, so those will stay in my garage when we go there.  I usually bring five dozen decoys on the big lakes.

I’ll hunt at least one local lake.  If the lakes are as bad as last year we’ll concentrate on the pond Southeast of Austin.  Tentative dates are as follows:
  • Saturday, 11/9/19
  • Monday, 11/11/19
  • Saturday, 11/23/19
  • Saturday, 12/7/19
  • Sunday, 12/8/19
  • Tuesday, 12/10/19
  • Saturday, 12/21/19
  • Saturday, 1/18/20
  • Saturday, 1/25/20

Being on this rotation is a privilege and is not a FCS membership benefit.  This rotation is a service to FCS members and guests, but I will not tolerate the below actions.  I can and will remove a person from the rotation for any of the following reasons (this list is not all-inclusive):

  • Not hunting in a safe manner, including deliberately not following my instructions and the FCS Safety and Shooting rules, Hunting and Fishing Rules, and Game Law Clarifications during a hunt.
  • Not paying for your share of the gas or fixing items (that are not yours) that you broke (including decoys that you shot and sank).
  • Not helping during a hunt (including not helping get my boat back on the trailer).
  • Not talking quietly, especially when ducks are coming in to the decoys (ducks can hear you and will veer away).
  • Not controlling your dog during a hunt (a dog that wants to go play with the decoys or charge the ducks as they are coming in will ruin the hunt).
  • Indicating that you will attend a hunt and then not showing up.
  • A pattern of being more than a few minutes late.
  • A pattern of canceling at the last minute.
  • Not returning my phone calls and/or emails.
  • Contacting Chris Campbell directly and attempting to arrarge your own hunts, which is effectively bypassing others on the rotation.
  • Letting your friends know about Chris’ family pond and then them contacting Chris or his grandfather asking permission to hunt.

The following people are on the Duck Hunt Rotation for the 2019/2020 season:

  1. Ryan Rowley
  2. Steve Ritter
  3. Ragan Brock
  4. Mike Walsh
  5. Earl Prochnick
  6. Blake Brosig
  7. Seth Parkey
  8. Brad Holbrook
  9. Wayne Weilnau
  10. Ian Daniels
  11. Zack Tumlinson
  12. Ken Miller
  13. Wiley Beale
  14. Steve Fusco
  15. Chris Rowley
  16. Burl Fulenwider
  17. Chris Campbell
  18. Jonathan Fleming
  19. Edwin Zamora

The following people are on the permanent Duck Hunt Rotation:

  1. Roy Brigman
  2. Tim Price
  3. Kevin Wall
  4. Bill Bebee
  5. Jerry Stafford
  6. Thomas Palmer
  7. Jim Gault
  8. Robby Wilson
  9. Will Peterson
  10. Justin Painter
  11. Ron and Nathan Petru
  12. Ron Palmer
  13. Bruce Crockett
  14. Bill Smith
  15. Ron Denison
  16. Wayne Weilnau
  17. Jeff Cates
  18. Kyle Wickham
  19. Brian Suter
  20. Steve Bird
  21. David Lesser and son
  22. Mike Thibodeaux and sons
  23. Jonathan Sherwin
  24. Kelvin Cheung
  25. Robert Butts
  26. Sam Martin
  27. Ian Daniels
  28. Chrispy Harden
  29. Garrett Eklund
  30. Colin Jackson
  31. Jake Dumaine
  32. Binh Chu
  33. Ryan Rowley
  34. Steve Ritter
  35. Zack Tumlinson
  36. Ragan Brock
  37. Clayton Carrier
  38. Jonathan Fleming
  39. Mike Walsh
  40. David Pruitt
  41. Warren Moorman
  42. Jim McGee
  43. Earl Prochnick
  44. Raul Pena
  45. Chris Rowley
  46. Ken Miller
  47. Jeff Morris
  48. Blake Brosig
  49. Seth Parkey
  50. Brad Holbrook
  51. Wiley Beale
  52. Steve Fusco
  53. Burl Fulenwider
  54. Chris Campbell
  55. Jonathan Fleming
  56. Edwin Zamora

Let me know at randywrowley@gmail.com (my preference) or 512-922-2484 if you would like to be added to this rotation.  Also let me know if you have any questions.

Categories : Duck Rotation

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