Duck hunters who are regulars at the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge know which blinds are historically the best producers, and select those first with low reservation draw numbers. Typically, Blind 3 is the first one gone from the board each day; its duck harvest is the greatest. Recently, Oregon Duck Hunters Association supported a program to plant wild millet in wetlands surrounding a few of these blinds on a trial basis to see if birds would be attracted to those areas and provide better hunting. Blind 12 and Blind B4 were planted in the summer of 2018 and the duck response has been very impressive.
The chart above shows the duck harvest from opening day through November 25 (the latest day for which data is available) for the last five years (2016 data is missing), comparing Blind 12 and Blind B4 to Blind 3, the benchmark for good shooting. The blinds with wild millet are shooting just as well now. Based on this success, ODHA will support another round of wild millet planting at Umatilla for the 2019 season.
Thanks Chris, Melissa, Larry, and Dave Rogers at River Refuge Seed Company for the generous help, I couldn't be more blessed to be surrounded by such awesome people. Here is our accessible duck blind, Accessing Oregon is on it's way to making real differences for folks with disabilities. Thanks also to everyone who has supported us this point, I am truly honored.
- Jordan Meekins
Buster Toms, from Louisiana, gave us a call wanting to order some Wild Millet. For years their duck club planted Browntop Millet, Japanese Millet, and Milo or Sorghum. A few years ago some Wild Millet volunteered in one of their ponds. Last year a large stand volunteered. He says this was their best season even though most of the other clubs in the area had poor hunting. He attributes this to the Wild Millet. He said that the birds come in and strip the seed of other feeds in a week, but the Wild Millet seed shatters off the heads, falls down into the straw, and the ducks keep working it week after week. He ordered 250 lbs and will be planting more of the club in Wild Millet.
- Dave Rogers
I live outside of the main flyway and one of my goals for this pond was to improve it enough to get more geese and pintails to start using it. One of my goals has been met. Thank you River Refuge for the help. The wild millet seems to be working quite well.
- Carl Eckhold
We were really excited to hear from Josh Kling. His club is located near Parma at the confluence of the Boise River and the Snake River. Last summer we made up a special mix of seed for him of native grasses that can be submerged when established. He planted the seed mix and as it grew he let the cows graze it. A few weeks ago we had a cold snap across most of the country. It drove a ton of birds south from Canada and west from Montana. Last week he flooded it. The next day he estimated there were over 10,000 ducks, mostly Mallards, feeding these fields.
The submergible grasses have tender shoots and hold lots and lots of invertebrates that ducks adore. Josh tells me his group limited in less than 30 minutes the first day and 15 minutes the next. These are memories for a lifetime. We’ve been working with Josh for a bunch of years on seed mixes for waterfowl projects. He’s become a good friend. We sure appreciate hearing about successes like this.
- Dave Rogers
Thanks to River Refuge for a spectacular place to hunt and photograph wildlife.
My friend Jim May, maker of KumDuck calls (www.KumDuck.com) let me know that his planting of Wild Millet worked just like it was supposed to. A few weeks ago he had several thousand ducks feeding in that field for about a week. Their shooting was terrific. During that week he and Joe and Terry got multiple limits. Then the ducks were gone. He figured they had eaten all the seed and were on their way to other fields. A week later, lo and behold. they were back to stay for another week! They had more great Mallard shoots.
This goes to show the value of Wild Millet as an attractor. As the crop matures, most of the seed shatters of the head, falls into the straw. When flooded, the birds flock to it and have to work for their supper finding all that seed hidden in the straw. They never get it all, even the second or third time. I will bet those birds will be back yet again and Jim, Joe and Terry will get another chance or two.
- Dave Rogers
I just looked out this morning to a bunch of ducks swimming around in the millet. I'm a happy camper. I'm very happy with the seed and advice from River Refuge.
- Dan Borden
Here is a picture of Willie Brockmoller’s successful duck plot planting. Willie planted a mixture of wild rice, wild millet, duck potato, and pennsylvania smartweed. He needed plants for seasonal bank areas that transitioned to areas that are covered in water year round. In the first picture below, you can see the layering affect of the different species starting with wild millet and smartweed on the shore areas to the right that then transition to areas of shallow water, 1-12” deep, where the duck potato really thrives. Finally, to the left the wild rice starts right after the duck potato and continues in to the areas where the water deepens to 12-36”. These areas will all be flooded up in the fall and winter and provide excellent feed and cover for the ducks.