By the Numbers
The ring-necked duck, aka blackjacks, jacks or ringers, continues our list of the top ten ducks hunted in Texas based on reported harvest numbers. For the 2014-15 waterfowl season an estimated 50,723 ringers were taken in Texas. Compare those numbers to 2013-14 and similar to the #10 ranked bluebill, overall harvest numbers jumped up by 14,398 ducks taken. For the 2013-2014 season there were 36,325 ringers harvested in Texas. Ringers also held steady coming in at #9 for both the 14-15 & 13-14 season.
Opportunity to Hunt
Historical band recovery data provided by Bands Across America shows an even distribution of ringers taken across most of the Eastern half of the state. The primary banding location is heavily concentrated in Northern Minnesota with much smaller areas in Canada & Arkansas. Only one banded ring-necked duck was reported in Texas during the 2014-15 season not surprisingly banded in Northern Minnesota. For the 2013-14 season 11 banded birds were report and 17 in 2012-13. The TPWD daily bag limit can be filled with six ringers in hand.
As with other diver ducks the blackjack isn’t tops of the list as far as eating quality but its not at the bottom either. Known as a “diving puddle duck” due to how often they are taken along side more desirable puddle ducks it can often be hard to tell the different between the two if prepared correctly. The most common line of thinking is if the duck is taken on waters, usually smaller ponds, where its primary food is vegetation then its good to eat. If it is taken on larger water or an area where mollusks and other invertebrates are on the menu then you might get a little more fishy taste associated with divers.