My contacts in the Central Flyway are strangely quiet this week, which tells me we’ve hit the mid-September lull. After getting a quick fix on early teal the last few weeks, waterfowlers now have a small window of inactivity before the duck opener.
North Dakotans have it easy as their opening day of waterfowl is this Saturday, September 22, and their neighbor to the south starts a youth season the same day. Those of us that live even farther south in the Flyway have to wait until October to unsheathe our duck guns once again.
Still, I did hear from a few people who capped off teal seasons with a bang. In the Nebraska Panhandle, Sam Arterburn and three of his buddies snuck out Sunday, the last day of Nebraska’s teal season, and managed to bring home a limit of blue-wing teal. Online pundits, including myself, were speculating that some cold fronts late last week would likely push most of the blue-wings south into Oklahoma and Texas, but these teens showed us so-called experts otherwise, and sent along this photo to prove it.
Kansas hunters get a couple more days of teal season, and it looks like this weekend could be the best yet. According to Kansas wildlife officials, bird numbers have been rising on almost a daily basis, with many of the reservoirs and refuges starting to hold good numbers of teal. Cedar Bluff and Glen Elder were both reporting teal numbers in the 400 to 500 bird range. Over at Jamestown, officials put the total duck count at nearly 4,000, a majority of which are teal, with some woodies and shovelers mixed in.
A bit farther south, Avery Pro Staffer Dallas Branch checked in from Ponca City, Oklahoma, where conditions look to be tough for the coming season. Reporting little to no migration in the past week, Branch did say cooler temps and evening showers are at least making things feel like fall, even if rainfall amounts aren’t anywhere near enough to mitigate the drought.
While most hunters in the Central Flyway are anxiously awaiting the big birds to start showing up, Canadian waterfowlers are already enjoying September success. Phil Francone e-mailed in some photos from Winnipeg, where he reports the gunning for dark geese has been good.
“We hunted a harvested wheat field east of Winnipeg,” said Francone. “We had over 3,000 (probably closer to 5,000) geese land in the field we were hunting, but unfortunately they didn’t land with us. Around 8:30, they all got up at one time and then started to come back in small groups. That’s when the shooting started. We ended up with 11 birds, should have had a lot more, but early season shooting was a bit off.”