These Waterfowlers Average the Most Birds Per Person
I've always been a stats geek, whether it involved baseball, football or waterfowl hunting.
My journal is filled with numbers and averages only I understand ‚ and that certainly only I care about. One column reflects the number of ducks I average per hunting trip, and another reveals my shooting percentage. I even have separate entries to indicate how many ducks my little crew averages per open-water hunting trip.
Maybe that's why I'm so fascinated by the state-by-state seasonal duck-harvest-per-hunter column in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's annual harvest estimates. I guess it provides some perspective about what an average hunter in those states might expect from duck season. And the info also holds some surprises.
That's why I thought it would be fun to run through the top eight states in average harvest per hunter from the 2016 season.
Surprise. Sorry, but I wouldn't have guessed that Mississippi ranked this high. Yet Magnolia State waterfowlers averaged 15.9 ducks per hunter in 2016. To be fair, the state's relatively low number of active waterfowlers ‚ about 13,700 ‚ contributed heavily to the ranking, but you cannot dispute that those somewhat scarce hunters enjoyed great success on average.
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Surprise again. Volunteer State wing-shooters averaged 16.3 ducks per person in 2016. Like its neighbor to the south, that's largely because fairly few folks ‚ about 11,600 ‚ were classified as active duck hunters. Still, when you see 16.3 birds per man and hear about Reelfoot Lake, you realize something good is happening in Tennessee.
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No real jaw-dropper here. Oregon might not get loads of national attention, but it's sandwiched between harvest heavyweights Washington and California in the waterfowl-rich Pacific Flyway. As such, hunters there averaged 16.9 ducks per person. The state's hunter numbers weren't high ‚ about 18,700 ‚ but you can't argue with the dandy average.
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Admittedly, I figured the Sportsman's Paradise would rank a bit higher. Its overall 2016 harvest of about 857,000 ducks is spectacular, but the state also had about 49,900 active duck hunters, so its average was 17.2 ducks per person. Sounds to me like Louisiana's bayous were busy and full of ducks in 2016.
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Ahem. What? Yep. In a state known far better for big-game hunting, about 15,500 active duck hunters shot about 268,000 ducks in 2016, good for a 17.3 ducks-per-hunter average. Apparently, the Idaho hunters who occasionally trade in their bow or rifle for a shotgun know what they're doing.
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Now we're getting to the big boys, and the numbers start to jump. In 2016, about 21,500 active duck hunters brought home a whopping 427,500 ducks, or an average of 19.9 per hunter. It's no wonder M.D. Johnson, Realtree.com's Pacific Flyway reporter, moved back to Washington after years in the Midwest.
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The Natural State produced eye-popping numbers across the board. In 2016, about 53,900 active duck hunters shot almost 1.14 million ducks, good for a 21.1 ducks-per-hunter average. All those stats point to Arkansas as an undisputed duck mecca.
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Ultimately, the contest wasn't close. Golden State waterfowlers averaged 24.5 ducks per hunter in 2016 (that's more than 1.15 million ducks taken by about 47,100 folks, if you're interested). And it was no fluke, as state hunters averaged 27 ducks per person in 2015. Perhaps access is an issue for some folks in California, but the lesson is clear: If you can find a place to hunt, you'll kill ducks. Anyone up for a West Coast trip this winter?
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