Ducks Unlimited Podcast

Chris Jennings and Dr. Mike Brasher discuss updates from across the world of waterfowl. Reports are emerging of minor avian flu outbreaks across the US. What do you need to know? How have recent weather patterns influenced migration and hunting. What’s behind above average duck counts in Missouri and record lows in Louisiana? Get the latest update on duckDNA, and learn about new science on the dogs of Chernobyl. Lastly, we dispel myths about HIP certification and harvest estimation.

Creators & Guests

Chris Jennings
Ducks Unlimited Podcast Outdoor Host
Mike Brasher
Ducks Unlimited Podcast Science Host

What is Ducks Unlimited Podcast?

Ducks Unlimited Podcast is a constant discussion of all things waterfowl; from in-depth hunting tips and tactics, to waterfowl biology, research, science, and habitat updates. The DU Podcast is the go-to resource for waterfowl hunters and conservationists. Ducks Unlimited is the world's leader in wetlands conservation.

Chris Jennings: Hey everybody, welcome back to the Ducks Unlimited Podcast. I'm your host, Chris Jennings. Joining me in studio today is my co-host and Dr. Mike Brasher. Mike, what's going on, man?

Mike Brasher: Good afternoon, Chris. It's great to be back in studio with you. It's been, I don't know, a few weeks? Yeah, it's been some time, probably more than that. Probably so, probably so. At least our producer, Chris Isaac, thinks it has. Yeah.

Chris Jennings: Getting the band back together. So, Mike, you wanted to hop on this podcast today and just kind of do something that we've never really done before. And you've been traveling a little bit. I've been traveling a little bit. Everybody's busy. It's that time of year. It's middle of November. I think for me, one of the most important aspects of November is that November is the only month, once we get to the end of the month here when Mississippi and Alabama open, it is the only month out of the year that waterfowl, regular waterfowl seasons are open. throughout the entire U.S. Is that right? It is. Because by the time you get to December, you start having like… Some closures in Michigan, Minnesota. Minnesota, yeah. Locks up North Dakota. But that week between basically like the 20th and the 25th is that time of year where just about everyone in the country can take a crack at them.

Mike Brasher: You know, I was talking to somebody recently, and I think I said this last year also, but it again, it hit me this year. So used to, the only sort of hunting season that I was aware of and was tuned into was the one for the state in which I live, whether it be Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio. And so you've got that 60 to 80 day window whenever you're thinking about it and you're planning it. But now, with the things that I do here for DU at our national headquarters and working with you, certainly on the podcast, I think about and I'm aware of and I'm staying in tune with the hunting seasons from September all the way through, really into February. It's like, holy cow. I feel like I've already gone through, and I have, two months, two and a half months of the hunting season, and haven't even fired a shot. Haven't hunted yet.

Chris Jennings: You're starting off in Alaska, in Canada, September 1, we're talking to Scott. Stephen's up there who's chasing them on September 1. I mean, it gets started then, and now we're middle of November, and we're still waiting on, what do we got, Tennessee, Mississippi, I think southeast of Missouri. Yeah, they're all going to open up here towards the end of this month. I don't know the exact date, so I don't want to get put on blast for that, but now we're getting, like Arkansas will be opening here this coming weekend. We're recording this on the 14th, Um, so November 2023, there you go. Timestamp timestamp. So, I mean, that's really, you wanted to come on here and do kind of a November update. Talk about kind of some of the things that you wanted to talk about. I know we have a big avian. influenza update, at least a good size one. We've got some migration information coming. We've got plenty of things to discuss this time of year, but I think let's go ahead and kick off with that avian influenza update because I know waterfowlers throughout the country were really, really tuned into it last year. And it really hasn't popped up, but it sounds like, from the science side of things, you're starting to hear a little bit here and there.

Mike Brasher: We're starting to hear a little bit. You know, this year, we were, I guess we were more prepared on the communication side of things. We had put a lot of messaging together last year. We had worked with USDA APHIS on that whole border crossing, those restrictions, getting those things opened back up. And so, we continue to have those communications with them this year. We worked with them to achieve some agreement on relaxing those restrictions. People could bring skin back on their birds that they harvested in Canada this year. And I was able to stay in touch with a few folks and was checking to make sure those types of communications were actually making it to the people that need it. Because the way that works is, you know, we worked with USDA APHIS. They're the ones that kind of manage some of those import-export restrictions. and help establish those. But then what happens is that they communicate those things to Customs and Border Protection. And so we were staying in touch with folks and we heard from a few people that did have some difficulty getting birds back across. Apparently there was some miscommunication or that information, that revised restriction, didn't make it all the way down to a particular agent in the CBP office. We were able to reach back out to USDA AFIS and their offices, and they said, yep, we're aware of it. We've heard from a few other folks, and so they reissued some communications back to Customs and Border Protection and tried to get some of that straightened out. I'm certain there were a few issues out there, but hopefully they were few and far between. And just again, thanks to our partners with USDA for their cooperation and wanting to help make some improvements there. What's it going to look like next year in terms of those import-export restrictions? I guess we're talking about kind of importation into the U.S. We don't know. We do anticipate eventually, hopefully, getting to a point where we go back to kind of life before the outbreak a couple years ago. or last year. So, anyway, stay tuned for that. With regard to your question about what we're seeing on avian influenza outbreaks here in the States, I received a report a couple weeks ago from our friend and colleague, co-worker out in Oregon, Kelly Warren, DU biologist out there, They were starting to see, actually a couple of things, starting to get reports of aspergillosis and some cackling geese, I think, but also some avian influenza, reports of that in some geese out there. to the point where ODF and W Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife were issuing some alerts or putting up some, making some postings, making hunters aware that, hey, we're seeing some of this again, and be aware, be ready to call, report any sick or dead birds, be cautious about picking up, retrieving sick or dead birds, you know, don't let your dog go chew on a on a sick or dead bird that you don't know the cause of that death. So that's in Oregon. We've also heard of a few outbreaks at poultry facilities in the upper Midwest. I think Iowa, maybe Minnesota. Nothing like what we saw last year. I think by November, late November, we were talking tens of millions of commercial poultry that had to be euthanized as a result of some outbreaks in a lot of different facilities. So we haven't seen it at that level this year, thankfully, but it's still there. We know it's out there. We know that Waterfowl are going to be moving it around because they are a reservoir for avian influenza viruses of all types. This one in particular is that high pathogenic avian influenza, the H5N1, I think, if I'm remembering that right. And so, yes, it's out there. Waterfowl hunters still have a responsibility to be safe, to be wise about going into backyard flocks or going in proximity to any kind of commercial facility. We still have all the information up on our website, forward slash avian flu. There's some new information on there. So go check that out. But that's where we are right now. And just a reminder to if you see those sick or dead birds, report it to your state fishing game agency. Have that number with you before you go out in the field. It's still something that we have to be aware of.

Chris Jennings: Absolutely. Driven across duck country there in Arkansas several times the last couple weeks. Yeah, have you seen any evidence of that? None. And you know, last year it was very visible. As soon as the snow geese showed up, you could look out in the field and see a hundred of them floating.

Mike Brasher: It was super, super dry for an extent, like through what, late November last year?

Chris Jennings: Yeah, I think we did not, yeah, you're probably right. We didn't get really a good douse of water until like that first week of December.

Mike Brasher: Yeah. But this, so it was dry going into November this year and geese were showing up, but we've had some rain over there recently, right?

Chris Jennings: Yeah, some areas have had some pretty good precipitation. I mean, the area where I hunt just west of Stuttgart. A couple weeks ago, we ended up with like seven inches of rain on some of these guys' gauges. Now, that was not widespread throughout the state, but some areas did get it. I mean, I know some people closer to Memphis got like three. And while that's not really going to do anything for the river systems out there, it definitely helps when we do get some more water. So, there's water on the landscape out there. I've talked to a lot of people who are, you know, fields are pumped, they're ready to roll, you know, it's here.

Mike Brasher: That will hopefully help with regard to any kind of AI outbreak that may occur in some of these more southern states this year compared to last because, you know, one of the, and there's a bit of speculation here, but it's informed speculation based on the way we know viral concentrations work and susceptibility to that among birds is the less dense the waterfowl are concentrated, the less likely we are to have a severe outbreak. There can still be some transmission, but you're spreading those birds out, you're reducing that interaction, and that's a good thing. in theory, reducing the concentration of the virus in that water. So, we still need a lot of water in Louisiana. It's a parched landscape down there. But yeah, I think we're optimistic that we're in a better position this year, down in these latitudes, whenever the geese start arriving with regard to avian flu.

Chris Jennings: Yeah, and they definitely got it in the Pacific Northwest last week, too. We had a migration alert come in and it really, it quoted Kelly and some of the guys from Washington Game and Fish as well, who were saying that they got a bunch of water across the landscape, which really spread those birds out. There's some big landscapes out there, lots of, you know, and they did get a ton of water, so.

Mike Brasher: And I think another couple of systems are coming into the West Coast this week and into the weekend, so that's even more.

Chris Jennings: Yeah, and then the one that's supposed to be hitting Louisiana.

Mike Brasher: I mean, it's… Yeah, I saw the weather this morning, and I don't think it dropped quite as much water as they were hoping it would. It stayed a little off the coast a bit, based on what I saw. It helped. I mean, anything is going to be helpful down there, but I think they still have a long way to go.

Chris Jennings: Yeah, they definitely do. And, you know, that really reflects last week. We also did a migration alert for Louisiana. Oh, yeah.

Mike Brasher: We're going there.

Chris Jennings: Yeah. I mean, survey came out. It's the survey. It's nothing we can, we can't change it. And it was expected. Yeah. I mean, it was, it was what I, and I don't want to dig the exact numbers, but you know, it was the lowest on record for November. That's right. But that can change, you know, we can get a bunch of water that can change pretty quick for those guys. I know that I know some guys down there who, who are hunting and having some success. So it's not as widespread and terrible as it sounds, although it sounds pretty

Mike Brasher: There are some places that are really bad. I was talking to somebody who said there's some clubs that aren't sure if they're going to be able to even have a season because they don't have any water or they don't have, there's not water in the canal to access their camp. You know, they can't even get to their camp. There's some of that that's happening. Saw some of the video from the aerial survey Jason Olzak shared whenever he sent that report around. I mean, vast expanses of of that marsh landscape that typically has water over it, but just dry, just absolutely dry. So, when you've got, I don't know, hundreds of thousands of acres that's not holding water, not providing habitat for ducks, you're not going to have a whole lot of ducks. So, the results from that survey weren't shocking, or at least they weren't unexpected. But yeah, hopefully they get, and they will. I think we've talked with Mike Schumer, Dr. Mike Schumer, about this being a pretty strong El Nino winter that we're going into, which means generally we would expect cool, wet conditions in the Southern U.S. and we need that. So, hopefully what we're seeing there, that low pressure system, kind of spinning up some moisture on the Gulf Coast right now, hopefully that's the startup.

Chris Jennings: No, that's perfect. And I think that's a good little roundup for our kind of the migration. You and your idea of doing this podcast was kind of like, hey, what do you do working on? What am I working on? Just kind of a little discussion. And that's, you know, one of my focuses throughout the year, that migration alert program. And that's That's thumping right along. So, you know, if you want to subscribe to those, it's forward slash migration alert. We do them by flyway, pretty much by state. You get a very credible reports from state biologists, state and federal agency guys. The freelance writers who do it, do a great job. And they really provide credible, valuable information for hunters looking at certain areas now. We don't do them for every state every week. That's a lot, but keep your eyes peeled on your flyway and you'll definitely get some valuable information. I'm subscribed to all of those flyway alerts.

Mike Brasher: So the other thing kind of related to the whole migration, the thing that I found interesting is like what we roll back the clock two or three weeks and we had a super strong cold weather outbreak there and people in the Dakotas and Canada were screaming about, oh, it's the season's over, it shut down abruptly. I think for a lot of people it did, but We've also had a pretty remarkable warm-up since then. A lot of those wetlands have thawed, providing additional hunting opportunities. I know I've seen some colleagues and friends that have been able to do some additional duck hunting that they thought they weren't going to be able to do. The one thing it did do, and I think You tell me if you've heard anything different, but I've heard a lot of reports of people seeing pretty significant movements of birds into those mid-latitude states where we're talking about some states like Colorado and maybe Oklahoma, Kansas, certainly Missouri. They released some of their survey numbers last week and they were up about 60-70% from their long-term average for this time of year. That's a reflection of that very strong early cold front that came through, that polar vortex disruption, I think.

Chris Jennings: Yeah, that middle of Missouri, right in there, I mean that, they picked up a bunch of ducks. And that, I'm hearing that from everybody who's hunting up there, as well as those reports. Now, that survey's only done, just to clarify, it's only done on state and federal lands. That's right. So, it's not complete landscape level like transects, like the Louisiana one, necessarily. But, It shows, I mean, they're holding almost 400,000 mallards in these areas, and that's significant. I mean, those are the birds, and that's exactly what you expect to happen. Dakotas, northern Minnesota freezes, prairies freeze, those birds hop. They're going there, wait till they get froze out, move south a little further. Hopefully that's the case here within a couple weeks. Once we start hunting down here, they'll get a little bit of water and that would help us out, would help everyone out. Except for those guys up there, I guess.

Mike Brasher: But I mean, like you said, North Dakota.

Chris Jennings: They've been going at it for quite some time. Yep. South Dakota, I'm hearing nothing but positive things out of South Dakota. They got some water up there. And so, I mean, I know John Pullman's been after it. You know, we've had Jay Anglin on the show several times. Talking about northern Indiana, Illinois. Illinois picked up a bunch of ducks when that freeze came as well. Those norms from the Forbes Biological Station, they do a great job with the reports. You can find those on Facebook and we tie them into the alerts. But they picked up a ton of birds at that time. I mean, they jumped significantly, kind of like Missouri. I didn't actually see those numbers.

Mike Brasher: You saw the numbers from Forbes?

Chris Jennings: I did, yeah. Okay. And it was pretty, it was early, but it was pretty significant, so that's good. And then we've talked to, you know, Jay Englund, who's up there, you know, they're hunting Canada geese across Michigan, northern Indiana, and he says it's just phenomenal.

Mike Brasher: Has he been up to Harsin's Lake or Harsin's Island yet? Not yet. Okay.

Chris Jennings: Not yet. He probably will be here pretty soon, but I know he talked to the guys up there, part of his alert. They were not holding a ton of birds. That's what he talked about on the podcast, which is really weird because they usually do hold a lot of birds. A lot of redheads up there, right? But the number of ducks killed per hunter at the state hunting ground is significantly higher. Wow. So what they just think they're holding, the birds are spending the evening in Canada, right across, what is that, Walpole? There's a bunch of big areas where those ducks can hang out, and then visiting the refuges there and the hunting areas on Harsin's Island during the day, which is exactly what hunters want to happen. Right. Well, good deal. Yeah, so right now it's all positive. We'll wait till Arkansas kicks off this weekend and see how that goes. I know it's going to be a little slow for a lot of the public land hunters. That's kind of the expectation. Should have a migration alert here within the next day or so.

Mike Brasher: Now you think it's going to be slow because why though? Not as much water as we'd like to have?

Chris Jennings: Well, you know, you've got like the white and the cash don't have any water. A lot of those public areas, I haven't even looked and their waterfowl report will come out tomorrow that'll show who's going to have water and who's not. It's probably going to be… The majority of them won't have water. Now, the cool thing about Arkansas is they've got that W Rice program that a lot of those guys are really pushing right now. And it's rice fields where you can put in for a draw. You get it for a couple of days. You'll have to look at the details of that program. But I've put in for those before and it's a pretty interesting program for guys to get out on a rice field. I think it's a great thing. Yeah. It just opens more opportunities for more hunters out there. We need more of that for sure. Now, one thing to skip off, you know, jump off the migration, because we'll get enough into that probably later in the week and next week. You mentioned last week you were at a conference and wanted to talk about some of the cool scientific research that's going on in the wildlife world. So, which ones? I know you sent me a picture of one that was a little wild, but I can't remember what it was. Did I? You did. I don't remember what it was. Sorry. So, what were you doing at that conference? Oh, what was that? It was about wild dogs or something. I don't even know.

Mike Brasher: Yeah. Yeah, sorry, so that was the annual conference of the Wildlife Society. That is the professional society of wildlife biologists. It's based here in North America. I've been a member of the Wildlife Society for probably going on two decades or something of that nature, but actually it's going to be over two decades, but this was the first time in about 10 or 15 years probably closer to 15 years, that I had been to the annual conference. I have a lot of options for conferences and sort of continuing education, meetings and so forth that I could attend in a given year and you have to just select, right, one or two a year. And typically I'll go to maybe the American Ornithological Society or the Society of Wetland Scientists. Then occasionally, every three or four years, we have the North American Duck Symposium. That's actually happening in February. This year, the Wildlife Society Conference was in Louisville, Kentucky. It's drivable from Memphis, a convenient drive from Memphis. and a couple of our conservation science assistants and I wanted to go there and some networking opportunities for them, catch up on some of the latest research in our field, and also reconnect with a lot of colleagues in that professional society that I kind of lost touch with. Over 2,000 attendees, one of the largest conferences I've attended, A mix of undergraduate and graduate students covering every aspect of wildlife science and wildlife research that you can imagine, from game species to non-game species, turkey, deer, songbirds. There's a bit of research from outside of North America. There wasn't a whole lot of, let's say, waterfowl research presented there. I think a lot of folks that are doing that research are holding back, waiting on the duck symposium, which will be held in February in Portland, Oregon, to present a lot of that research, present their findings. But I did, there were some there, then several people that we've had on the podcast before, Dr. Casey Ctash. Dr. Casey Ctash, we can say now, she graduated, successfully defended her dissertation earlier this year. She was studying waterfowl nesting ecology and flood irrigated lands out in Colorado. She presented on a part of her research that was evaluating the effectiveness of that particular practice for nesting and brood-rearing waterfowl. There's also Cheyenne Beach. She is now, I think, a PhD. Yes, she is a PhD candidate and I forget which university. She's at a university in Illinois. Was she the one that did the fleas? Nope, not the fleas. That was Vanessa. with DU Canada. Cheyenne is the one that was working on SCOP, working on parasite loads in SCOP, and I'm not even going to try to say the scientific name for those parasites that she's looking at. But some of her master's research was, I think, well, I'm probably going to get it a little bit wrong. Part of her research was evaluating the effects of implant transmitters on scot. Back to this issue of evaluating whether the technology that we're using to track waterfowl movements is having any kind of behavioral or physiological or… effect on the birds. And so she presented the findings from that aspect of her research at the conference and they found no significant effect. This is actually some work that was sponsored by and conducted in partnership with Panola Aviary in Shreveport, Louisiana. We've talked with them before on the podcast, and so it was kind of neat. We were over there earlier this year, and we saw these scops swimming around. They had this antenna coming out of their back, and it was associated with Cheyenne's project. And so now this paves the way for the next phase of Cheyenne's project, where she's going to be radio marking scop at their spring staging areas there on the Mississippi River, and then tracking these birds as they go back up through different migration corridors and looking at how those paths may translate into any kind of differences in reproductive output. The idea being that there are some of those paths that are going to expose them to areas where it is known to have much higher concentrations of those parasites. So, that's sort of a proxy for exposure to these parasites and see if there's any kind of effect on a parent. breeding activity. So, if Cheyenne's listening, I hope I got that right.

Chris Jennings: Well, here, I just looked at my text to see exactly what you said. I mean, you need to probably schedule this for a DU podcast. Not sure how it ties in, but it's the population genetic analysis of free breeding dogs of Chernobyl.

Mike Brasher: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's pretty fascinating, I'm not gonna lie. So one of the things that I try to do, it's difficult, I have to make myself do it at these conferences, is attend a presentation or a workshop that exposes me to something that I don't know as much about. You know, puts you in a bit of a, if it's a workshop where you're having to participate, you're putting yourself in a bit of an uncomfortable position because you're like, I don't know anything about this, but Somebody, I think I was telling somebody in a text message, like they were asking, why are you at that workshop? And I said, well, like the old saying, if you're not putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation, you're not growing. You're not learning, right? So that's kind of what I was trying to do there. And this was just… I saw it in the program and I said, that looks cool. I want to find out what they're studying there at Chernobyl. And they found some pretty… They were looking at the genetic signatures, genetic differentiation between wild dogs on the Chernobyl site. I forget exactly how they… define that and then compare that to some other wild dogs nearby. And there were some pretty stark differences in the genetic signatures, almost like they're genetically distinct populations that the authors of that study weren't really expecting based on the proximity, how close they were, and so they were like, we don't really know. why they're differentiating so strongly, it's inbreeding or whatever it is. But anyway, it's just kind of cool to learn about a topic and a place that ordinarily I don't think about. And I sat in on a couple of other genetics related genetic studies and sat in on a lot of… workshops and sessions that were where even our own Dr. Karen Waldrop was a special presenter. Ducks Unlimited, our leadership, our volunteer and staff leadership were very well represented in some of these sessions that talked about the future of wildlife management and a lot of the changes that are happening in society and a lot of people getting more involved and interested in contributing to conservation and natural resource decision-making. Dr. Karen Waldrop was on a couple of panels. Dr. Mamie Parker was on a couple of panels. She is a board member for Ducks Unlimited. Dr. Christine Thomas is also the chair of our conservation programs committee. She was on a panel. also associated with some of those activities. And I think, is there anyone else from our DU leadership that was on those panels? I remember those three, seems like there might've been another that might come to me. But anyway, we were well represented and it was really cool to see our leadership there and being recognized by the larger wildlife profession as critical figures in helping to define sort of the future of where we go as a larger wildlife and natural resource profession, management profession. Let's see what, yeah, Ben Lukanen, PhD student at Michigan State, presented on some of his research. involving Great Lakes mallards and looking at differences in movement and survival and other aspects of demography and behavior. And I think he tried to relate that to some of the genetic information that he's collecting from those birds. That kind of links to this whole issue of game farm mallards and wild mallards. I wasn't able to stick around for his presentation. That was the unfortunate thing is that Nearly all of the presentations that related to waterfowl occurred on the final day, in the final afternoon session. We had to get back that afternoon because the very next day we had to turn around and drive to Louisiana for a wedding on the following day. wedding of Ashley Tunstall, our other conservation science assistant. So, we missed out on those presentations. Maren Murphy presented on emperor geese and some of her work. Bram Verheijen is a postdoc at the University of Missouri studying distributions of wintering… distribution of duck harvest in the Mississippi and Central Flyways over the past 60 years. We'll have some more information about that in the future. Been working with Bram and others on that project. It was fun. I got to catch up with a lot of colleagues that I hadn't seen in a long, long time and heard about a lot of research that I typically don't and reminded me that it's a conference that has a lot of value and I'm probably going to try to go to it more frequently. Well, definitely will go to it more frequently than once every 15 years.

Chris Jennings: We need to get you to start scheduling some of these people who are doing this research.

Mike Brasher: Let's get them on the show. I know. What I need them to do, if y'all are listening, send me an email. Meet me halfway. Send me an email telling me that you want to come on to talk about your research. Help me do half my job.

Chris Jennings: Help me do my job. Well, you know, you kind of touched on it several different times just when you've talked about genetics and things like that, but do you have any update on the Duck DNA program? Boy, do I. Which we've done a podcast, we've done everything about it, and let's hear about Duck DNA.

Mike Brasher: Yeah, so that's one of the reasons why I haven't been on as many episodes this fall is because that has consumed a lot of time kind of getting, because we started that from scratch, you know, and we've been dealing with so many, every aspect of it. But the response has been pretty incredible. I've been very pleased and very thankful to everyone that has commented, everybody that has signed up, everybody that has asked to participate. People have offered to pay to participate in it. And we're like, no, it's free right now. It's free. We don't know long-term what this is going to look like. We're sticking with our random draw. As a reminder, we're trying to enroll about 300 waterfowl hunters into this program this year. We're asking each of those hunters to submit tissue samples from five harvested ducks. You can go to to find out more of the details on this if you have not already familiar with it. But just a few updates here. We completed our first round of selections in, boy, what was that, early October? And we had to run through some of the logistics associated with the pilot project. We had some leaky sample vials, and we had to correct that issue. I got a phone call about that. Had to correct that issue. You got a call about that? Did you? Yeah. Totally, did I know about that?

Chris Jennings: Yeah, it was the same guy that had reached out to you, but you were out of it.

Mike Brasher: He's probably listened to this. Yeah, and so we quickly got on that, ordered some new sample vials and shipped those out to everybody. We also had some issues with the box, you know, in terms of it being too strong, you know, you're supposed to have this little pull tab that you can rip it open, but it just, you end up having to kind of tear the box apart whenever you do that, so we end up having to tape it, and we advise people to cut the tape in order to open it. So, you know, those types of things. We knew we would encounter some hiccups along the way, just kind of rolling this thing out the way we did. But everybody has been very understanding. We've had a number of people reaching out to us through the dedicated email address for this program, asking us questions, keeping us up to date on various things. We've had over 3,000, I think I'm safe in saying over 3,000 people apply to participate in this as of right now. As of last week, it was almost 2,900, so I feel pretty safe in saying it's now over 3,000. that have applied to participate. I did not get selected, by the way. Did you apply? I did. Well, so this is what I'm going to say now. Our next round of selections is going to occur in the next couple of weeks. We may do that as early as next week. We were going to wait until early December, but the one thing we learned from this first round of selections is that there's a bit of a delay. By the time we do the selection, we then have to get the addresses to our colleagues at UTEP. They have to prep the packages, print the address labels, and then get those out, and then the U.S. Mail Service, U.S. Postal Service has to get those out, and it's taking a little bit longer than what we anticipated, and we're having some delivery problems with some of those. We may, we'll probably look into FedEx shipping next year or something of that nature. So, that next round two selections will occur shortly. I don't think, in that first round of selections, what we did is excluded hunters that indicated to us, excluded hunters from states whose season wouldn't even be open before, let's say, before late November. I think what we did is, if a state was only open for a couple of days in November, And then the rest of their season, the majority of their season would be in December and January. They weren't even eligible to be drawn that first round. So you wouldn't have been eligible. That's what we, in that application process, that's why we ask what state do you primarily hunt in.

Chris Jennings: I figured you just removed my name from the whole lot.

Mike Brasher: Just out of spite. I'm going to go with the first option there. So yeah, that's going to be happening soon. And next year, whether this continues next year, I think is going to depend on the response that we continue to receive. I mean, the response we've received thus far is like, clearly, there's interest in this. People are stoked to participate. They have talked to some people in person. They're like, thank you for doing this. This is really cool. I want to be able to give back in this real neat way. And so thank you to everybody that has shown that interest, has applied, and certainly to the people that have participated. We have started to receive some samples. I say we, our colleagues at UTEP, and they're beginning the process of analyzing those samples. I see posts online every now and then, people putting those things in the mail, and so thank you for that. But yeah, I do imagine that we'll try to go forward with this again next year, exactly what it looks like and whether it increases in scale, and I think it's going to depend on Well, a number of things. We'll just see. But there will continue to be updates on our website as we kind of continue on. We'll try to summarize the results of this year. And it's a pretty cool thing. And thanks to everybody that's been part of that. Yeah. No, it's great. And cross your fingers, you might get selected, Chris.

Chris Jennings: Might get selected. Man, I figured I knew a guy.

Mike Brasher: Figured I knew a guy. You know, there's been a few people here in the office that have reminded me on more than one occasion that they weren't selected the first round. I said, hey, you weren't even eligible to be selected in the first round. Don't get hurt. Don't get your feelings hurt.

Chris Jennings: Not yet anyway. It's too early for that. Cool. Well, that sounds like a fun program. Awesome little research project, you guys. Kind of a citizen science type thing. Participation with DU members. That's fantastic. It's just a cool story all around. So what else? We're wrapping up. November, we're coming to a close.

Mike Brasher: Thanksgiving is next week. That is hard to believe. Crazy. Absolutely crazy. You and I are going to try to get together. I don't know if we'll do it this week. I know our producer over there wants us to try to do it for the end of the week. A pintail. I think we'll just go ahead and commit to a pintail species profile. There will be a lot of people. out there way more qualified to talk about the details of the newest scientific research on pintails than me, and we'll try to get those folks on at some point, but I think we're overdue in delivering a species profile, so we'll get something out there. I know that material well enough to kind of give the basics of it and what we understand about that species right now. It is one of the more fascinating species that we've studied, and the evolution of our understanding of what has happened with that population. It's pretty interesting, and so we'll bring that to folks here in the next little while. Cool. Well, I think that's all for me. That's all of our update. Oh, wait. I do have something else. Okay. And this was in response to a couple of questions that I've received and maybe a few things that I've heard. And it's something that we can't… It's worth reminding people of every now and then. Harvest information program, HIP, HIP certification. Two of the common questions is, okay, whenever I'm completing my HIP certification and they're asking me to answer those questions, how many ducks did you harvest last year? Your answer there does not… determine harvest estimates. They don't use that for estimating, for generating those, you know, total harvest numbers. What they use those numbers for is to categorize you into different levels of, let's say, harvest success or how much harvest you're likely to, assuming that your harvest success last year is reasonable predictor of what you're going to harvest this year, they're going to put you into these different bins. The high harvest hunters, medium harvest hunters, and then those that just kill a few birds each year. Then they stratify their sample of hunters based on those three bins because you want to be able to sample those hunters in the high harvest category at a different rate than those at the low harvest. Ben, if you want to improve the precision and accuracy of your resulting harvest estimates. So, what they then do is send out, after they select those individuals, they'll ask you to participate in one of two surveys, being the parts collection survey, that's the one where you send in the tails, or there used to be the wings. I don't even… The wings and the tails for geese. I don't know if they even still do the tails for geese. I think some things are changing there.

Chris Jennings: As I said, I haven't done it for three years now.

Mike Brasher: Yeah. And then the other is the Hunter Diary Survey. That's where you're just asked to keep a record of your duck or goose harvest.

Chris Jennings: And that comes typically from the U.S.

Mike Brasher: Fish and Wildlife Service. Both of those come from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Chris Jennings: But now I will do say a reminder, because I just realized this last week. kicking off early spec season in Arkansas. This is my first year being on the AGFC app, using that only. You know, you don't even have the printed out licenses. You can have it all electronic, including your federal duck stamp. But if you do, like if your state offers a renewal, an auto renewal, which Arkansas does, which I check the box, It does not auto-renew your hip. That's right. So, it'll auto-renew everything else, but not your hip.

Mike Brasher: The other thing related to that, and I've had two people ask me the two or maybe three people ask me this question this year, if I hunt in more than one state, do I have to get hip certified in each of those states? The answer is yes. Your hip certification is specific to the state in which you're hunting. And if you get a, if you're sampled, if the Fish and Wildlife Service selects you to participate in one of those surveys, it will tell you, should tell you, which of those states you have been selected for. If you did your HIP certification for more than one state, it should tell you to kind of record your harvest or your wings or, yeah, your wings for which of those states, right? So, just a couple of clarifications there. HIP certification specific for each state and then, yeah, if you're selected, Oh, that's the other thing. Whenever you're, let's say I go to Louisiana this year, whenever I get my HIP certification for Louisiana, and I'm answering those questions for Louisiana, like, how many ducks or geese did you harvest last year? I answer relative to my harvest in Louisiana, in that state. That's the other part of it. So, yeah. And coots and gal. Coots, gal, yes.

Chris Jennings: Well, good deal. Yeah. The only update I have and it's did a little bit of a early spec hunting, uh, got shoot a few birds. It was pretty decent. Got bit by a spider in a pit. on some heavy antibiotics right now. All good, but ready to kick off the regular season. Yeah, you saw a snake too, didn't you? Yeah, lots of snakes, lots of frogs. That's like 75 degrees in Arkansas on opening morning, and they were out. They were there for sure. Well, Mike, this has been fantastic. We're gonna go ahead and leave it with everybody for the rest of the month of November. We'll come back with hopefully some additional shows, some Pentel profile that Mike just promised the audience, so now we can't back out.

Mike Brasher: Let us know, I guess, let us know if you like this type of little roundup type thing. Like I said, it's the first time we've ever done something like this. I don't know if it's something we could do more of. If folks want something like this, let us know.

Chris Jennings: Email us at dupodcasts at I'd like to thank my co-host, Dr. Mike Brasher, for joining me on this little November roundup and getting a little bit of information out there. I'd like to thank our producer, Chris Isaac, for being awesome, putting the show together and getting it out to you. And I'd like to thank you, the listener, for joining us on DU Podcast and supporting wetlands conservation. Thanks, y'all.