Duck hunters at the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area bagged a record number of waterfowl this year — 5,754 ducks, 963 more than last year.
This year more than 2,700 hunters visited the wetlands, a managed area in the Missouri River bottoms south of Columbia. Hunters killed an average of 2.11 ducks each, said Jim Loveless of the Missouri Department of Conservation, which manages Eagle Bluffs.
Loveless attributed the success of hunters this year to local weather patterns.
“We had a rather dry fall, and as a consequence, there were very few wetlands other than managed areas,” he said. “The birds came to the area because that was all they could find.”
Tim James of the Conservation Department said that while this year’s numbers are up, duck hunting isn’t easy. But over the course of the hunting season, hunters become more skilled.
“It’s an adrenaline rush,” James said. “You match the duck’s natural senses with the skill of the hunter. And often times the duck wins. It’s not an easy thing to do.”
Mike Warnock has been hunting ducks for 20 years, the last five of them at Eagle Bluffs. Warnock, who hunts two or three times a month with his family, said he killed 30 ducks this season.
Part of his success is “a matter of being in the right place at the right time,” he said. But having a managed place like Eagle Bluffs, where the environment is ideal for waterfowl during the season, is a big help.
“It greatly improves the chances of getting a duck,” Warnock said.