If it’s not one thing, it’s another, as the old saying goes.
As I write this, the United States and, specifically, Arkansas are wading through unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact has even trickled down to waterfowling. For the first time in its 65-year history, the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey has been cancelled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian Wildlife Service and their state partners due to COVID-19 restrictions.
No survey reports to cuss and discuss this year. Will it matter? Time will tell.
How will COVID-19 impact how we duck hunt? Social distancing is difficult to achieve in pit blinds, boats and side by sides. Your favorite duck call may not sound quite the same if blown through a mask. Social time around a fantastic meal or the fire pit may require adjustments to our norms.
Doubtless, an interesting season will be upon us in a few months and we’ve put together an outstanding lineup of stories for our 11th edition of Greenhead to whet your appetite. The magazine continues to find a way to get better and better, from the look and feel to the original stories and photography. The team behind Greenhead hopes you enjoy the 2020 edition.
This year we feature the fascinating story of the famed Bill Byers Hunter Club in southeast Woodruff County. Facing a declining duck population, Byers made the difficult decision to transition 1,200 acres of prime, duck-friendly timber into farmland that somehow, some way, still holds ducks to this day.
We tackle the much-debated issue of whether or not we, as hunters, should be shooting mallard hens, but with a twist. Waterfowl biologist Mickey Heitmeyer posits his Super Hen Theory, which examines what’s in the pile versus how many. I gathered input from several leading waterfowl scientists as well to make a case for easing up on the hens.
Contributor Mark Friedman details how local motion decoy company Banded Mallard competes with the big boys. Managing Editor Todd Traub explores the work of harvest information programs and the science of duck banding. Todd also gets some cooking tips and learns kitchen tricks from some all-star cooks at Arkansas duck camps.
Photographer Kody Van Pelt shares his experiences from a trip to Chesapeake Bay last season. Kody compares and contrasts hunting in this part of the world versus Arkansas-style waterfowling, with an array of photos showing how far apart, and close together, the two worlds are. Contributor Jeff Krupsaw talks to duck call maker Maverick Dunn to learn what hunters seek in a good call and how a skilled craftsman puts it together.
Sticking with tradition, we present another solid lineup of Arkansas executives for our popular Executive Q&As.
We also take a poke at the virtual brag board that social media has become for waterfowlers. Sometimes, it is hard to determine if guys just like wearing the latest slick gear and photographing themselves for the likes or if they truly enjoy the sport, honor traditions and are good stewards of resources.
Once again, we hope you find the magazine engaging, educational and energizing for the coming duck season. Habitat conditions appear to be promising everywhere but in southern Saskatchewan. Of course that is where Arkansas gets a sizable number of our mallards. If we can get a little cold weather and enough water to hold the ducks, this season could line up to be productive, COVID-19 or not.
Good luck this season,