I noticed today that all of the ducks were resting/feeding on the adjacent field where the rice had been cut later and there was no standing rice.
I took a minute to compare the two fields. They are literally adjacent to each other with only a small levee separating them. The water levels are similar. The main difference between the fields was that the stubble was about 8 inches tall in the recently cut field, and you could see much more water in the rows where the combine passed. This seemed to be where the ducks were sitting, not necessarily in open areas of water.
The field I am hunting has full heads of rice and the stalks are about 12 to 16 inches tall. Also, because of the full heads of rice and tall stalks, you cannot see any of the water below the rice. It has about 8 to 10 inches of water, but looks like a big hayfield because the full rice plants cover the field like the forest canopy in the woods.
I am wondering now, did we make a poor choice in picking the field that had been harvested early? We assumed that the standing rice would be a buffet to the ducks, but at this point, they sure seem to like the cut field where there is no heads of rice. My guess is that they are attracted to the standing water, not necessarily the standing rice.
Give me your thoughts and your experiences on rice field hunting. Will the rice plants die off and fall over the season? Will the ducks continue to bypass this field? Will the standing water become visible from the air?
I see a challenging season ahead that may rely heavily upon my concealment and calling techniques. I may not have as many opportunities as I initially thought, so I must minimize my mistakes to be successful.
Looks like I may have a lot to learn about this rice field business!