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I hunted over water in ND for the first time today. We hunted in a 30 acre slough that was about waist deep all around. The slough was filled with what I think are freshwater shrimp, but I don't know. They were bunched up on the decoy back that was in the water, the line wrapped around the decoys and anything that was cloth and in the water.

If I had a weak stomach I might have lost it this morning when I reached into the decoy bag after we had put almost all of the decoys out and little critters started crawling on my hand. :puke: Has anyone else run into these? How can you get them off the decoys after you are done for the day? We let the decoys lay on the lawn all afternoon and they are still crawling on them.
 

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Might try a weak bleach solution for a wash.
 

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Ya, they aren't terribly uncommon in wetlands. They are supposed to be the primary food for bluebills. I have no idea why some sloughs have them, and some don't. Perhaps they were bunched up because of the lack of water this year.

http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/1999 ... eeding.htm
Amphipods and pond characteristics in the Parkland.--Amphipods, primarily Hyalella and Gammarus spp., are a primary food of migrating and breeding scaup and for ducklings (reviewed by Austin et al. 1998). Hunters and biologists have long noted that scaup usually are found on wetlands with amphipods, but this relationship has never been quantified. D. Lindeman and R. Clark examined relationships among amphipod abundance, pond morphometry, and lesser scaup numbers in 12 sites in southern Saskatchewan (Lindeman and Clark in review). Because scaup frequently nest within wetland margins and are the only diving duck that nests in uplands (Austin et al. 1998), Lindeman and Clark also examined the role of wetland margins and upland habitats. Use of wetlands by breeding scaup was positively correlated with presence of amphipods, pond area, and absence of wetland margin impacts. Abundance of Hyalella, the more common of 2 main amphipod species in all but ephemeral wetlands, often was a key factor affecting abundance of breeding scaup and occurrence of ducklings. Because of the dominance of amphipods in scaup diets, particularly of ducklings, factors affecting amphipod abundance and relationships between amphipods and scaup also need to be examined in boreal forests.
Do your best to get them off of/out of your stuff because they will begin to smell when they die. Probably a good week to leave your stuff lying out in the yard.

M.
 

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Fear not the scuds!

Funny little buggers aren't they. Here's the response last week from someone who knows his ducks to my question about their relation to where mallrds want to be in the Fall: "Almost all ducks will eat scuds, but they are an especially important invert in the diet for many species of breeding hens - a high protein food. In the fall, I think mallards and pintails tend to turn to grain, when available, though they almost certainly will dine on scuds that are available. Scaup on the other hand are on the lookout for those great scud places."

I never let them bother me because we've had many of our best mallard slough hunts the last few years where we've found shrimp. Don't know if there's a lot of sloughs that have them or coincidence or what, but we've found a high relation to shrimp being present in sloughs where we've found mallards. Like their larger relatives, they are blue/green when living and turn to orange when the dry out. Thousands of little orange kernals in the bed of my truck right now. Maybe they get stinky, but who could tell in the back of my truck - lots of competition in that regard!
 

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Scuds are an important part of the ecology of a wetland. I usually just take my hand and brush them off...it's not like they'll bite. Most states wish they had the amount of scud in wetlands that ND has. The leading theory to the decline in the bluebill population is related to the loss of freshwater shrimp in MN and IA. From Keokuk pool in SE IA to Agassiz NWR in NW MN Scaup are losing 75 grams of body fat and arriving on their nesting grounds a week later and in poor condition for breeding. The wetlands have become so deteriorated, polluted and filled with fish that scud can't survive...and without them neither can bluebills. Basically the wetlands in MN are so crappy that they're causing scaup to go the way of the Dodo...

...and Pawlenty is worried about not his constituents not being able to hunt PLOTS over MEA. Uh, is it just me or are his priorities ***-backwards???
 

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The other major link I've heard is the higher toxicity levels found in bluebills since they've started to feed extensively on zebra mussels during migration and wintering. The mussels are like a sponge for pollutants. The theory is that these toxins could be affecting reproduction.
 
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