As seasons start to close down in the eastern half of the Central Flyway, waterfowlers in the western section are still getting birds, as recent cold temperatures and the resulting freeze-up have both ducks and geese on the move. In the southern region, hunters are either seeing birds or still waiting for them to show up.
Late week I went to the marshes of eastern Louisiana in the hopes of finding some big ducks there. Unfortunately, Hurricane Isaac had flooded the freshwater marshes with saltwater, killing off the food and sending ducks elsewhere. I did manage to scratch down my very first canvasback, which made the trip for me. And we managed to get in on some of the spectacular redfishing action offered by Cajun Fishing Adventures.
When I got back home on Friday, my phone lit up with reports of friends’ success. Most notably, four of my hunting buddies set up in one of our Panhandle cornfields and had their straps filled by 9 a.m. Their take? Twenty mallards, plus one bonus pintail and a four-man limit of big Canadas. That kind of success seems to be the norm for hunters on the North Platte right now as several other folks have checked in with similar reports.
Up north, hunters in Montana are closing the season down with some success on the tail end of the migration there. Terry Honkanen of Trophies West Outfitters e-mailed me the above photo late last week, along with the following report:
“I just shot geese for the last time this season. We lost some ducks and geese last week when it got down to zero and the rivers almost locked up. Some geese stayed and we shot limits Sunday and Wednesday. That was our 103rd limit for the season, so we ended up killing 515 greater honkers. Pretty good for starting December 1. Friends of mine are still killing some mallards in western Montana, but eastern Montana where I’m at has been slow for ducks. All in all, a great season. Now it is going to snow and I’m hopefully going to tree a lion this weekend.”
Farther down the Rocky Mountain Range, Avery Pro Staffer Vance Stolz is reporting the gunning there is still going strong in Colorado, with lots of ducks and geese in the area.
“We still have very large numbers of dark geese staged in the area. Birds are very concentrated on certain roosts due to most bodies of water being frozen. We have noticed a large increase in mallards over the past week in the area; however, like the geese, they are very concentrated on what few bodies of water are open.”
Still, hunting hasn’t been easy for Stolz and other hunters in his area.
“Most hunters are having to work at getting their birds. We’ve had a lot of the same birds throughout the season, so they tend to get in their patterns. For those willing to keep at it and spend the time in the field, the rewards have been good. We’re starting to get mallards; this next week should be good for the field duck shoots!”