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Part of this, some believe, was the fact that the farmers in the Dakotas were now growing corn and a friend of mine who farms in our area called the seed they planted 90 day corn. They have a shorter growing season up north than we do in our area and the hybrid developed was for the northern states. When corn had worked it’s way to $7.00 per bushel the farmers went into the corn business. Unless there was an early snow covering the ground after harvest, the birds hung around.
Second, some believe that the reserve at De Soto bend had changed the type of game it attracted. Many years ago the managers would cater to waterfowl at the museum and there was a viewing area built where visitors could come and watch the birds. Besides snow geese, the reserve would hold a couple of hundred thousand mallards. What would the birds do but feed in the surrounding fields and our pits are only 20 miles straight north as the crow flies. The farmers that farmed the fields on the reserve owned by the government were required to leave one third of the harvest on the ground. This would keep a lot of birds around. Corn is cocaine to a mallard duck.
The new manager several years ago began managing the reserve for deer. Waterfowl was not a primary goal and the birds kept going without the banquet on the ground waiting for them. Recently, that has changed again and in checking reports at De Soto it was holding at one time up to fifty thousand mallards. However, with the nice weather up to the Dakotas, nothing came down. I called several times and asked the people at the reserve where the mallards were. They said they were in the Dakotas. I told them we were waiting for the migration, and they said they were too.
Anyway, one can always hope.