I totally agree with the statement that immature birds are extremely vulnerable to spinners. Those smaller, poorly colored drake mallards would land on top of them. Eventually with patience, the bigger drake mallards would follow into gun range.
The best thing about spinners is that they give inexperienced hunters a better chance of picking drakes. A few of the guys in our group have trouble identifying ducks in their hands. With a spinner and a lot of patience, I have them shooting mostly drakes, now. I am not saying that without a spinner they shouldn't be able to identify, it just gives them a little extra time to choose their shots.
The thing is, if you do things right in ND you are going to shoot a limit anyway. They do not replace scouting, calling, and decoy placement.
I don't know ??? In a State with so many young birds can this be a good idea ???
As other states take steps to limit or ban motorized duck decoys, Texas monitors situation
By SHANNON TOMPKINS
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle
Results from the most in-depth study to date on the effectiveness of motorized duck decoys indicates waterfowlers who use the increasingly popular machines take significantly more ducks per hunt than hunters who do not use the "spinners."
Preliminary data from the study, conducted in Minnesota this past autumn, indicates 80 percent of the mallards taken during the 220 hunts studied were killed when the motorized decoys were on.
Of the 510 ducks of all species taken during the study, 71 percent were killed when the spinners were on.
Whether that increase in duck harvest justifies prohibiting or limiting use of the spinners or modifying bag limits or other hunting regulations to compensate for the additional ducks taken remains an issue facing waterfowl managers.
Among some waterfowl hunters, use of the motorized decoys which employee a battery-powered motor to turn "wings" as an imitation of a hovering or landing duck, the ethical and social considerations surrounding use of the devices are as much a part of the discussion over the mechanical aids as the decoys' impact on waterfowl harvest.
While biological and ethical implications of motorized decoys have generated considerable heat in some states, Texas' 130,000 or so waterfowlers have been fairly quiet on the topic.
"It's just not been a big thing (among Texas waterfowlers), " said Steve Cordts, assistant waterfowl program leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's wildlife division. "There really hasn't been anyone really complaining about them."
That doesn't mean Texas waterfowl managers and hunters are not watching how the issue plays out in other states, or that they are not concerned about the controversy over use of the motorized decoys.
If use of the motorized decoys can be linked to greatly increased duck harvest rates, managers would be forced to address the issue, either adjusting hunting regulations (bag limits, season length) to offset the increase or banning use of the spinners.
Some states already have taken such steps. Use of motorized waterfowl decoys is prohibited in Pennsylvania and Washington, and will be banned in Oregon beginning with the 2003 hunting season.
Minnesota and California prohibit use of motorized decoys for part of their waterfowl seasons.
Little more than a decade ago, motorized decoys were not an issue. They weren't around.
The first commercially produced and mass-marketed models appeared in the early 1990s. Today, more than a dozen manufacturers offer motorized decoys. New models and designs appear each year, with most carrying price tags of $100-$200.
A battery-powered motor turns the decoys wings, imitating a landing or preening bird.
It is that motion, absent in regular decoy spreads, that seems particularly convincing to flying ducks.
Anecdotal evidence and data from a couple of relatively small research projects (the largest, in California, involved about 40 hunts on a pair of areas) indicates using spinners does increase hunter success.
The Minnesota study, commissioned by the state's Department of Natural Resources, bolstered that evidence.
The study was coordinated by Alan Afton, adjunct associate professor and assistant leader of wildlife research for USGS' Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit at Louisiana State University.
Afton, who coordinated much of the recent research into the effectiveness of using electronic callers for hunting geese, was familiar with Minnesota, having worked there as a waterfowl biologist for the DNR.
Research and field work were headed by LSU graduate student Mike Symanski, a North Dakota native.
The project involved investigators accompanying waterfowlers on hunts in 17 counties, public and private land.
Some of the 370 participating hunters were randomly selected from a list of state-licensed waterfowl hunters, contacted and asked if they would participate.
Others were picked at random at access points to hunting areas and asked if they would participate.
The project lasted through the state's 60-day duck season, and involved 220 hunts and almost 400 hours of hunting time.
Study protocols involved allowing the waterfowlers to hunt as they normally would, picking their own hunting locations, methods of hiding and calling, etc.
Researchers would provide a pair of spinning-wing decoys -- a mallard drake and hen -- for the hunt.
During the hunt, the spinners would be turned on for 15-minute periods, then off for 15 minutes, then back on for 15 minutes, with that cycle used throughout the hunt. Hunts lasted as little as 90 minutes and as much as 195 minutes.
A coin toss decided if the hunt would begin with the spinner "on" or "off."
Researchers noted number and species of ducks taken during the periods, number and species of ducks that came within 100 yards of the decoys and the number and species of those birds that then came within about 45 yards.
Some of the study's results:
·Of the 510 ducks taken during the study, 71 percent were killed with the spinner flapping and 29 percent with them "off."
·Mallards, the continent's most populous duck species and the bellwether used by waterfowl managers to monitor overall status of North America's duck population, were particularly susceptible to motorized decoys.
Mallards accounted for 43 percent of the ducks taken in the study, and 80 percent of them were taken when the spinner was "on."
·Few hunters took limits of ducks, even with the spinners.
The average per-hunter bag during the study was 1.23 ducks.
Fewer than 5 percent of the hunters took their six duck limit. Fewer took more than six birds, despite researching having a federal permit allowing hunters to take as many as 24 ducks per day.
·Ducks flying within 100 yards of a motorized decoys were much more likely to come within shooting range than those flying within 100 yards of a standard decoy set.
Half of the 1,775 flocks that flew within 100 yards of decoy sets using a spinning-wing decoy came within shooting range.
One-third of the 1,552 flocks that passed within 100 yards of the standard decoy set flew into shooting range.
·Effectiveness of the spinners was unchanged throughout the season, with ducks as likely to decoy to them late in the season as during the first week.
While research coordinator Afton and TPWD waterfowl manager Cordts, both serious duck hunters as well as scientists, say there is little doubt the motorized decoys increase hunter success, both caution against reading too much into the data.
"If you look at that 1.23-birds-per-hunter number, you see that spinners are not a silver bullet," Afton said. "Just putting one out doesn't mean you're going to shoot a limit of ducks."
"I've used them, although not a lot," Cordts said. "Overall, you'll kill more ducks with one. On certain days, they make a real difference, but sometimes they don't seem to be a help."
More important, both say, is the issue of how many hunters employ the motorized decoys, and how that affects overall harvest.
"How does (use of motorized decoys) translate into harvest rates?" Afton said. "That's the million-dollar question."
Currently, waterfowl managers don't know the answer.
A survey a couple of years ago indicated only about 10 percent of Minnesota's 135,000 waterfowlers used spinner decoys.
That percentage has grown, Afton said. But managers don't know by how much.
In some waterfowl-rich areas of other states, as many as half of the hunters may be using spinners.
Until more research is conducted, don't look for Texas to make any moves to restrict use of motorized decoys. (Federal waterfowl managers have been strangely silent on the issue, leaving research and any regulations up to the states.)
"Right now, there is no evidence to show (spinners) are having a significant impact," Cordts said. "If everyone had one and used it every day of the season, they certainly could have an impact. But that's not what we're seeing."
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