I’m not a big fan of hunting rice ground. Rice makes great duck ponds, but I’ve never experienced a really good duck hunt in a rice paddy. It’s not uncommon to see lots of waterfowl, but typically the birds are passing by overhead and out of range. The club we hunted is located between the Sutter Bypass and Knight’s Landing
Today’s experience was similar to my previous hunts from rice-check blinds, except we didn’t really see a lot of waterfowl, at least nothing exceptional. White-front geese passed over and a few ducks worked the decoys. We fired at a spoony, a greenwing teal, a hen mallard and a pintail. We came home with nothing.The hen mallard sailed down a check away from us, but it got up and flew away when my friend caught up with it. Unfortunately, his follow-up shot missed and then his gun jammed. Bummer.
The club we hunted today has a good reputation for success and blinds are $3,000 per hole ($9,000 for a three-man blind). A good two-man blind in the grasslands goes for about $7,500. You can kill more geese and mallards in the north, but the teal-oriented grasslands clubs can be very consistent.
Rice ground does produce some good hunting, but it’s primarily during prime duck-hunting weather – storms, wind or fog. On nice days, like today, rice typically does not hunt well.
One of my hunting partners commented that rice harvesters are so efficient now that very little rice stays in the fields, reducing significantly the attraction for feeding ducks.
We stopped by Mayberry on the way home and one of our group had killed a few ducks this morning, including a couple mallards. Nothing great, but at least they got something.
It was the first time my guest had seen Mayberry since the conversion to permanent marsh. He was a shocked. Anybody who knows what a good marsh looks like would agree that the new Mayberry, with its cattail mass and deep water, has little to attract waterfowl in winter. My guess is that Mayberry, on average in winter, holds less than one percent of the waterfowl it once did. In other words, when it used to overnight 5,000 birds, it now has less than 50.
Looks like hunting will be a bit slow during the holidays, but we’ll be out there trying. Sooner or later the hunting generally picks up.