Seth Gibson, Water Resources Coordinator
One of the most important factors in whether a waterfowler has a success hunt or not is the hide. As the season goes on, the birds get more pressure and the need to blend into your surroundings becomes crucial if you want to fool those late season migrators. Most duck hunters understand how important the hide is, but how many of us understand the impact that the hide can have on the sport? Just as it’s important to get hid, it’s important to know what you’re covering your blind in to help prevent the spread of invasive species. Here are a few species you should be on the lookout for when covering your blind.
Phragmites (Phragmites australis)
This is probably the most common invasive species duck hunters unknowingly cover their boat in. It is a dense growing semi-aquatic grass variety that can be up to 13 ft tall and grows along waterways. The concern associated with brushing your blind in with phragmites is that any piece of phragmites that falls off your boat later on has a chance of sprouting roots and establishing a new stand. This will rapidly degrade the quality of habitat. Various organizations put tons of money into the treatment of phragmites. It has even been listed as a restricted species under Michigan law, so be on the lookout the next time you need some cover for your blind. Click on the link to learn more about phragmites and the impact it can have on the environment. MISIN – Invasive phragmites
Black Swallowwort (Vincetoxicum nigrum)
Black Swallowwort or BSW, is a herbaceous vine that tolerates a broad range of soil types and light conditions. It is commonly found wrapped about other herbaceous plants and shrubs, allowing it to be easily tucked into the grasses that you may grab for your blind. New plants can sprout from an existing root crown, and, during hunting season, the plant has fluffy seeds which can attach to you or your blind traveling to every spot you visit. The concern associated with black swallowwort is that monarch butterflies mistake it for milkweed and lay their eggs on it. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars end up dying due to BSWs natural toxins. This one may not mess up future duck hunts if it becomes established, but it’s a good one to keep an eye out for. You can get more info on BSW at the link below. MISIN – BSW
Narrow Leaf Cattail (Typha augustifolia)
If you’re like me, you’re probably surprised to learn that we have an invasive species of cattail in Michigan. The narrow leaf cattail or a hybrid between our native cattails and the narrow leaf, makes up a majority of what we see in the marsh nowadays. Using these to brush in your blind seems perfect, they’re sturdy and are usually green or brown at the same time as the rest of the foliage. The issue associated with them is that they can reproduce through seeds and fragmentation meaning that any piece of cattail left in a new area can sprout roots and spread rapidly through rhizomes. Narrow leaf cattail can very quickly take over an area, pushing out the native species, reducing its benefit for wildlife and making it difficult to hunt. Click on the link below to learn more about narrow leaf cattail. MISIN – Narrow Leaf Cattail
Most of the time it’s impossible to know every plant that you’re brushing in your blind with, but familiarizing yourself with several species to stay away from will help you be a better steward of the land and help maintain the quality of hunting habitat that you utilize. Good luck this season everyone!