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Thread: duckin soldotna

  1. #1
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    Default duckin soldotna

    is there a decent amount of birds that fly near soldotna in the fall? moving up in a month and tryin to learn all i can. thanks for any info.

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    I would say yes that there are a decent amount of birds in that area. Keep in mind that that area of the KP is one huge swamp, so the birds will be scattered and stay scattered through out the season. Since we start so early up here the birds almost never flock up and they stay in small family groups scattered all over the place. Also keep in mind that just because there is a lot of wetland swamp it does not mean that said swamp is waterfowl habitat. No food means no ducks.

    What few folks from the area that ever provide reports on here have said that the past few years the waterfowl hunting on the Kenai flats has been very poor. Some of that is due to rule changes for blinds and safety areas for shooting. I don't hunt the area, so you will have to get first hand knowledge from the actual locals down there. One guy mentioned that the birds were in for one day and then nothing the rest of the season. That was a fall when we had some huge storms that pushed the birds out of Cook Inlet and over to the Copper River Delta where they spent months before moving south. One very boring fall along the Knik.

    There are folks that "cast and blast" on the middle Kenai during September, hitting the side sloughs while trout fishing and jump shooting birds. You will see a lot of divers and saw bills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    I would say yes that there are a decent amount of birds in that area. Keep in mind that that area of the KP is one huge swamp, so the birds will be scattered and stay scattered through out the season. Since we start so early up here the birds almost never flock up and they stay in small family groups scattered all over the place. Also keep in mind that just because there is a lot of wetland swamp it does not mean that said swamp is waterfowl habitat. No food means no ducks.
    It's pretty interesting to see how many "baby" ducks you get around here compared to Arkansas or Tennessee or anywhere down the flyway. I bet first-year mortality for ducks is huge overall, but you really see it in your bag here. A flock of ducks comes into your decoys in September here and it's a mama duck and a bunch of her ducklings, so if you and your partner drop three, there's a good chance they're all juveniles.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinnyD View Post
    there's a good chance they're all juveniles.
    Yes indeed.

    The first month we shoot a lot of really small ducks out of very small flocks of 5 to 6 birds. I've taken teal sized mallards and pintails. Teal so small they didn't have enough meat to breast out.

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    Waterfowling in the Kenai/Soldotna area can be tough and frustrating with an occasional bout of good hunting. As AK Ray points out, the Kenai River flats, which is one of the few real “duck areas” here has been pretty dismal the last couple of years. Not getting near the number of ducks from western Alaska that stopover that we have in the past. Local birds get shot up pretty quickly and after that you have to work pretty hard.
    This goes for the Kasilof River flats as well, very hit and miss although there is fairly decent diver hunting there especially late in the year after the lakes freeze up.
    The Skilak Lake is a jump off point for the upper Kenai River duck hunting and there are decent numbers of birds but there are so many fisherman there in the fall now it makes hunting the area pretty difficult, at least from the lake downstream to where you start getting into areas with cabins where you can’t shoot. There are some pockets around the lake that can be good and there are lots of Goldeneyes and a fair number of mallards that stay clear until the end of season but the lake is big, it blows up quickly and it is dangerous as heck trying to get back in from the south side of the lake. A good sized boat would be a big plus and offer a bit more opportunity, this goes for Tustumena Lake up the Kasilof River as well although recent years the duck numbers on the lake itself have really dropped too.
    Perhaps the best duck hunting in the area is in southern Katchemak Bay out of Homer. Late in the year the mallards get in some of the bays there and you can have hunting like you were in the prairie pothole region (where I originated so I know what good waterfowling is).
    Goose hunting as well as fairly good duck hunting can be had on the Chickaloon Flats but it is a long way in a road that requires a pretty substantial four wheel drive rig that cannot be an off-road vehicle. Plus there overnighting there is tough without a cabin and there are only a couple and very hard to get.
    There is the truth of it but having said all that, I hunt ducks here 60-80 days out of the season, always have a great time and usually do okay on birds. If limits on every outing is what you are looking for then you will be disappointed. If having your dog out in a blind or a boat, watching the place come alive at dawn, having a few birds come in and taking a few in some of the most beautiful country a hunter can hope for, and usually with very few hunters around, then you’ll won’t be disappointed.
    As an aside, money is often times the answer to many things. For duck and goose hunting here, if you are willing to spend some money and fly to the west side of Cook Inlet there is some fantastic waterfowling to be had.

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sameyer View Post
    If limits on every outing is what you are looking for then you will be disappointed. If having your dog out in a blind or a boat, watching the place come alive at dawn, having a few birds come in and taking a few in some of the most beautiful country a hunter can hope for, and usually with very few hunters around, then you’ll won’t be disappointed.
    Could not have stated it better.

    Thanks sameyer for chiming in on the situation down there.

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    so are there sea duck oppurtunities near by in the cook inlet? or do you need to go further down.

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    Sea ducks need shellfish like muscles for food, so you need to look for rocky spots that hold muscles. The majority of the coastal area from Gull Rock south to Homer is gravel with mud/sand flats. There are a few glacial erradics sitting out there in the mud but not much habitat for sea ducks. There is just no food for them.

    From Soldotna your choices are to head to Homer and then cross K-bay to any of the several smaller coves. OR head to Seward and ummm...lord only knows how sea ducking is out there. Lots of Puffins, but they are not on the waterfowl menu.

    Also keep in mind that sawbills are listed as sea ducks here in Alaska, so you can shoot those in freshwater if you want and take your puddler limit as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    Also keep in mind that sawbills are listed as sea ducks here in Alaska, so you can shoot those in freshwater if you want and take your puddler limit as well.
    That's the best-kept secret in Alaskan waterfowling and you should take as many mergansers as possible. Put them straight on the grill - no marinade or rub - and you'll have yourself a tasty treat! I'll trade you a limit of greenwings for hooded merganser any day.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Too bad you won't see a hooded merganser up here. Maybe in Juneau in mid summer if one gets lost.

    Meganser is like grilling a piece of beef heart marinated in spawned out salmon roe. True test of your culinary skills.

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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    We should have a thread "Eating merganser is just like _______."
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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