After last week’s report stating freezing temperatures up north were sending ducks winging south into Texas, several readers in the Lone Star state chimed in to say they were waiting, maybe not so patiently, for birds to show up. Thus is the nature of a late, and spotty migration. Hunters on one side of the road can be into birds, while nearby waterfowlers watch empty skies and wait. Still, as duck numbers up here in the north continue to decrease in direct proportion to the amount of ice on area lakes, hunters down south should continue to see more birds.
That was the case for Field & Stream blogger Chad Love, who last week reported that his “little corner of the state is mostly duckless, due to lack of water and food.” Not long after the blog went live on the site, I got another e-mail from Chad singing a much more positive tune, or as positive as that guy gets:
“[It] figures. The day your duck report comes out, things around here change completely. Went out yesterday, nothing (besides geese), not even a few gadwall I had been seeing. Went out this morning, snowing and sleeting like hell, but between yesterday and today we finally got a big push of mallards, I’m guessing thanks to the system that just grazed us. Only shot three (greenheads even, no hens…) because I had to leave early but lots of mallards on the open water on our lake, quite a few gadwall and some scattered divers. Small water’s still locked up, but we’re just above freezing and the lake’s got a little open water, as do the creeks.”
Officials in Kansas also reported a big push of birds over the New Year’s break. Reports submitted on Thursday, January 3, show high concentrations of mallards. At Glen Elder, the mallard migration index is registering at 9 on a 10-point scale, with an estimated 19,000 mallards using the reservoir, along with another 8,000 diving ducks, 14,000 Canada geese, and a whopping 50,000 snows. The water at Jamestown is locked up under ice, but at Lovewell an estimated 10-15,000 ducks and 5,000 dark geese are resting there. Unfortunately, Kansas waterfowl hunters in the Low Plains Zone are also locked out, as the season there closed on Sunday. Hopefully the birds will stay in the area until the Late Season reopens January 19.
In Nebraska, the Low Plains Zone 3 season ended on New Year’s Day, but not before hunters snuck in a few late season hunts. Hunter Sean Sutherland reported he and friend Chad Bragg had a good end-of-the-season hunt in the central part of the state. “Decent late-season duck number and some open water,” Sutherland reported via e-mail. “Very few geese in the central part of the state, it seemed.”
Sutherland also spends a lot of his time hunting in the western part of the state in the High Plains zone and he reports gunning there has also been good.
“Geese are dying with reckless abandon out here if you are close enough to key river roosts. Corn is heating up as well with the cold temperatures. Ducks are stellar on warm water near roost areas.”
I can confirm the hunting has been good here in the Panhandle, but it’s not enough to keep Sutherland at home, proving that no matter how good you have it, there’s always some greener grass somewhere else.
“Heading to Arkansas for my annual timber hunt on Saturday,” said Sutherland.