Hunters in the Midwest patiently await the waterfowl migrations out of Canada’s Arctic as the waterfowl fly south to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Those of us who enjoy hunting waterfowl on the Central Flyway should have decent flights through our area.
South Dakota’s chief waterfowl biologist, Rocco Murano, pointed out that “ducks and geese are beginning to migrate out of the north and through the Dakotas, along with gadwalls, widgeons, green-winged teal, pintails, Canada geese, cedar geese, and even a few small flocks.” of snow geese.”
Hunting opportunities and bird concentrations should be plentiful in South Dakota, with duck and geese numbers increasing in some areas. Dry conditions along the Central Flyway continue to affect waterfowl hunting opportunities and bird concentration, but duck and geese numbers are increasing in some areas.
As of last month, Murano has stated that “they’re starting to see new ducks and geese arriving in South Dakota.”
“The northern counties bordering North Dakota in the northeast corner of the state are probably where we’re getting the most reports, and that’s the region with the best water conditions,” Murano said. “Larger bodies of water in this part of the state are also home to larger concentrations of diving ducks, including redheads, buffaloheads, and some scaup and canvasbacks.”
Only in the last few weeks have birds taken advantage of shallow inlets on large lakes to respond to increased foot traffic on public land by pheasant hunters, as well as the few mornings that we have had ice on some of the smaller sloughs. The birds really have no reason to leave the state, but they do roam. These larger bodies of water are a good place to explore when trying to find ducks that seem to have left an area.
But Murano said, “Hunters looking to settle on these larger bodies of water will have to contend with lower water levels.”
According to Bruce Toay, director of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited in South Dakota, “We’re just getting drier and the wetlands that were in pretty good condition a month ago are now showing a muddy border. Hunters who want to be on the water may need to get a little creative with their camouflage to be at the water’s edge.
“On the other hand, Feldjäger will benefit from the pace of fall harvest.”
“For mallard hunters, we’re still waiting for a meaningful push by these ducks into South Dakota,” Toay said. “Based on what I’m hearing about how dry North Dakota and southern Saskatchewan are getting, I wouldn’t be surprised if when the weather changes up north we see a large influx of ducks and geese, like there there’s just not much water between there and here to stop them.”
Water levels are low across Nebraska, but the state and its federal partners are doing what they can to irrigate the landscape, according to Ted LaGrange, director of wetlands programs at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
“Hunters in Nebraska are facing extremely difficult conditions as the state continues to experience an extended drought that has left wetlands, canals, streams and even rivers high and dry.”
“I think in my 30 years of work here in Nebraska I’ve seen the Platte River dry up several times. It’s not normal, but it’s not entirely uncommon either,” LaGrange said. “There are obviously no guarantees, but the portion of the river that is dry near Grand Island will usually come back up as upstream farmers complete their surface water allocations for crop irrigation and temperatures begin to drop. But we could still use a good shot of rain.”
There is evidence that in some areas, as long as they have had decent rainfall, waterfowl numbers should be good.
The best waterfowl hunting in our area occurs when the weather in both North Dakota and South Dakota is cold, when the ponds and other bodies of water that waterfowl depend on are icy.
When cold weather hits the waters north of I-90, the waterfowl will be driven south, and if we still have open water and open fields we will have excellent waterfowl hunts in southeast South Dakota and northeast Nebraska.