Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Kipp C. Kruse


Hunter activity and waterfowl harvest were studied on 11 public waterfowl hunting areas (PHA) in Illinois which utilized 1, 2, or 3-year duck blind allocation systems from 1979-1983. The number of individual hunters, man-days, and average man-days hunted per season varied for each area in each year. The average man-days hunted per season for all study areas was 5.7 with a range of 4.4 to 6.4. Highly significant correlations existed between blind-days and man-days (r=.99), blind-days and man-hours (r=.97), and man-days and man-hours (r=.98) suggesting that the three variables are equally valid for evaluating hunter activity. On 1-year duck blind allocation areas, 75% of the blinds had ≤100 ducks harvested from each of them. On 2- and 3-year allocation areas, 86% of the blinds had ≤100 ducks harvested from each of them. Irrespective of the allocation system used, 94% of the Registered Blind Builders (RBB) and 89% of the Non-Blind Builders (NBB) resided within a 50-mile radius of the PHA. Overall, RBB made 3.1 more trips per hunter per season than NBB. Three percent of all hunters were non-Illinois residents.

The mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and wood duck (Aix sponsa) combined comprised between 61.8 and 71.8% of the total harvest; all other duck species combined comprised between 28.2 and 38.2% of the total harvest each year. The species composition concurred with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's estimates for Calhoun and Jersey counties.

RBB comprised 56% of the total man-days on days when hunting success (ducks/man-day) was below average. Conversely, when hunting success was above average, and 1 standard deviation above average, RBB comprised 61% and 65% of the total man-days, respectively. When hunting success was 1 standard deviation above average, RBB on 1-year and 2-year allocation areas controlled 9% more of the total man-days than when hunting success was below average, and RBB on 3-year areas controlled 11% more. However, in the 2nd or 3rd year of an allocation system, RBB tended to decrease their proportion of the total number of man-days. This trend is due to RBB in the low-quality duck blinds hunting fewer days (a majority of the duck blinds) and is partially compensated by an increase in hunting by RBB who hunt in the high-quality duck blinds. Thus, the resultant control of the number of man-days by RBB is primarily due to RBB inhabiting the more successful blinds at the most opportune times.

The number of ducks crippled (number unretrieved per 100 birds bagged) varied within each area each year and the overall average was 13.4. A general downward trend in the crippling rate occurred from 1979-1982 with a slight increase in 1983. Twenty-five percent of the total duck harvest and 31% of the total ducks crippled occurred during the first week of the hunting season.

Management recommendations are made regarding 1-, 2- or 3-year duck blind allocation systems.