Small Wetlands Produce Big Results | Don’t Underestimate the Little Guy By Chris McLeland, Professional Waterfowl and Wetland Biologist In today’s modern society, all too often we think bigger is better. I can’t hardly go to any fast food restaurant and not “supersize it”. It’s ingrained in our DNA these days to make the association that the larger something is or the more you receive, the better it is. This is no different in the wetland world. We tend write off small marshes as being unimportant and focus primarily on the large wetland areas as we plan our hunting trips afield. I am here to tell you that if you can break that philosophy, you might just reap the BIGGER rewards this fall. Wetlands provide a wide range of benefits including flood storage, reduced soil erosion, improved water quality and last but certainly not least, habitat for wildlife such as waterfowl. Small wetlands provide these same benefits. In fact, they might be more important than the larger ones. Why? Well, small wetlands in or adjacent to farmlands serve as important islands of habitat providing food, cover, and water for everything from white-tailed deer to marsh wrens. Waterfowl are especially attracted to these wetlands during the spring and fall migrations. From a recreational standpoint, some of the finest waterfowl hunting occurs on small 5 to 10 acre wetlands embedded in crop fields. These idled areas can easily pay for themselves and then some by leasing the hunting rights. During the 2013 season, I was fortunate enough to receive an invite to hunt with a good friend on his farm in Northwest Missouri. The goal of this trip, to shoot a limit of greenheads! My hunting partner had been going on and on about the CRP CP23 wetland that had just been completed on his farm. Once we reached the blind, I was amazed to see that the wetland itself was only 20 acres, with really less than 5 acres of water available. To say that I wasn’t very confident was an understatement. Nevertheless, we slid the layout boats into the water and set off on what I expected to be a fun afternoon of laying on my back, watching the sky and “BS’ing” with my buddy. A hunt that started with low expectations quickly became one of my best hunts all year! Heavy hunting pressure on the surrounding public and private lands had several thousand birds looking for a place to sit and relax; these 20 acres had been offering them applicable refuge for many days. A detail my partner just happened to forget to mention. I learned a very valuable less that day, size doesn’t matter! Well, at least in terms of wetlands… When allowed to function as natural refuges, remnant sloughs and pothole wetlands can provide many benefits. Some are obvious, some not so obvious. Aside from the wildlife habitat they provide, they also provide flood storage during wet periods reducing crop loss as well as the need to run pump out facilities. In addition, these wetlands filter out sediments and slow soil erosion reducing the need to clean drainage ditches. All these minor contributions add up to one thing, a stronger bottom-line for the farm producer and more habitat for the ducks. You can find all of our Waterfowl Hard Goods in our catalog here Chris McLeland is a professional waterfowl and wetlands biologist from central Missouri. Chris is an avid waterfowler, and has recently been added as an expert contributor to HardCore-Brands.com. Look for more of Chris’s articles every month!