After doing a little work on the duck club cleaning out the ditch for water and creating a small excavation area in a very skeptical place I was very pleased to go down there a week later and see this. The water actually filled up the small pond and should make for a decent late season duck shooting spot. That water leaves the pond and spreads to the West where we need it most. A couple of boxes out that way are where I like to hunt ducks later in the season, there is also a chance for a goose on occasion.
Well, keeping an eye on the main lake water level as it normally begins to rise this time of year, I noticed it looked like it had risen quite a bit in just a few days. Suddenly a light went off in my head. It seemed like they were going to be doing some work on the Cutler Dam in Cache County sometime this Fall. Could it be that they are starting that work now? If they are, that would explain why the lake level has risen so much in the last few days. I had to go and investigate and yesterday was a perfect day for that to happen.
As I approached one of the boat ramps up near the far end of the lake (away from the dam), it became obvious there had been a water draw down. This is what the sign says:
The notice is warning boaters and hunters that a drawdown was going to take place and to be dang careful when venturing out. You could get stranded in mud should you take your boat and hunting party out. I have to say, they gave plenty of notice as these signs were at every boat ramp on the lake. It says the drawdown would begin on or about Oct. 27th…..Heck that was this past Monday. That is when I noticed the water in the Great Salt Lake was up considerably. They must have gotten a hair in their butts to begin the draw down earlier. Along the shoreline at this boat ramp you can see just how much the water level has dropped.
Well, since I have to go back home anyway, I figured I might as well go back by way of a trip out to the Bear River Migratory Refuge, heck it’s only about 30 miles out of my way. Besides, you guys need to know what is going on too.
Heading toward Tremonton, I stopped at a little out of the way boat ramp I know about to see what the river looked like at that point. The river was running high, but not overly high at this point. But again, it’s obvious they are pouring a good deal of water out of Cutler Reservoir still.
I hiked over and under the bridge to get this next picture. You can see from the wet mud along the shore the water had been a good 3 feet deeper at one point recently.
So, the main draw down must have been quite a show and it would have been fun to have witnessed it, but that is “water under the bridge” so to speak. Now my curiosity is centered down river at the end the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.
This refuge used to be the largest migratory bird refuge in the nation back in its day, it covers a whole lot of ground and is being managed pretty good. Only about a third of the total property is open to hunting, the rest is left available to the migratory birds that flock through here. Of course it is a great place for the birds to rest on their flights South in the Fall. Our duck club is on the fringe of the South East corner of the refuge. The refuge is broken up into nine different “units” and each of the units has its own water course and control valves. My interest is on those control valves and where they are sending the water that is coming down river from Cutler dam.
Unit number 5 is the main unit that feeds the Great Salt Lake near our duck club and of course this is where I would like to see the manager send all the water, but of course I’m biased. As I travel West out of Brigham City, down what is known as Forest Street, when you get just past Interstate 15, you pass the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge Visitor Center. I didn’t bother stopping there as I still had quite a bit of traveling to do and my “honey do” list back home still had to be completed. As I approached the “Reeder Canal”, which carries the water into Unit 5, I was very pleased to see this flow going into it.
That is a lot of water! I don’t think the canal could carry much more than that amount. So, my wish to have a lot of water going into Unit 5 is being done! YEAAAA!!!!!! This would explain why the level of the water in the Great Salt Lake has risen so quickly. When Unit 5 gets full, there are only a couple of outlets and both of them dump into the “Willard Spur” of the Great Salt Lake. It takes a lot of water to fill the spur before it begins to empty into the Great Salt Lake proper. By the time the spur fills the water is lapping at our duck clubs’ Western boundary! Perfect for late season hunting!
Down the river I stopped at each of the other spillways and recorded the water going out of the river. This series of pictures clearly shows they are dumping a lot of water into the various units and each unit in turn is dumping the over flow into the Great Salt Lake! Every duck hunter in the northern end of the state should be over joyed with this.
While I was out there, they have a road where tourists and hunters can drive around what is known as Unit 2. A lot of hunters utilize this unit to bag tons of ducks, geese and for the few lucky ones with swan tags, they take a lot of Tundra or “Whistling” swans from this unit. A special regulation is in effect for any hunter on Unit 2, and that is, if you are hunting within 50 yards of the center of the dike extending into the unit, you are only allowed to carry 10 loaded shotshells with you. The problem that was created before this rule went into effect was what is known as “sky busting”. Hunters would stand on the dike and shoot at any bird that flew past, whether that bird was in range or not. So to limit the amount of sky busting, they put the 10 shell limit on the hunters. Of course if you have a boat and set up farther than 50 yards from the dike, that rule doesn’t apply.
As I drove around Unit 2 I could see out in Unit 1 to the North, a LOT of birds. Big birds, small birds, dark birds and white birds. Hundreds of swans, thousands of geese and a grundle of ducks. Unit 2 contained a few Red heads and a scattering of Pintails, but mostly coots…..THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of coots….coots everywere! Coots on top of Coots. Continuing around, the South end of Unit 3 (un-huntable area) was loaded with good big ducks. A few coots as well, but mostly Mallards, Pintails, Spoonbills, Widgeon and Teal. I didn’t see any geese on Unit 3. Even up in the “huntable” area of Unit 3 there were a lot of good ducks. That area is almost impossible to get into unless you have a boat (of course for those of you who think you can walk on water, good luck crossing the channel…it’s very full of water….see pictures above), but for those who do have a boat, the hunting would be fantastic! Even on a day like yesterday, blue bird!
After I got back home and cleaned up the Honey-Do list, I got hold of Bob and we went down to the club to look things over. It was getting late in the afternoon and we talked to some young hunters just heading out for an evening shoot. They said they were getting quite a few ducks way out. We allowed them to foot travel through the club and on out to their hunting place. In the meantime we drove Bob’s Rhino out to Baddley Box. The water that is pouring into our club from the sewer plant is not yet down there, which was very surprising to both of us, however, further travel out toward Colmer Island, found us stopping way short as the water level of the lake is up and completely surrounding that spot. YESSSSS!!!! It’s time for a hunt folks!
We had our hip boots on and waded out to Colmer Island. The box needs some repair work and that will have to be done when someone goes out hunting. There isn’t any way you will be able to hunt there without fixing it up. Sorry…work before play!
So, there you have the story! I’m excited to think it is time to hunt and I can’t help but believe we have some Northern birds sitting on the Refuge right now. It can only get better until things freeze up! Grab your shotguns, load up on shells, Don’t forget your HIP number and your duck stamp! A couple of decoys, the call, warm clothing, a thermos of coffee and a sandwich….everything else is a luxury….oh ya, a 5 gallon bucket!
October 30, 2014