For those practicing voluntary restraint on long-billed, chicken footed, pint-sized, toothy, non-duck species, here is a run down of happenings across the Continent:
The first reports of Snow Geese are finally drifting in from Alaska. Full-plumage divers are starting to arrive around the Kenai Peninsula — including Golden Eye, Scaup and Bufflehead. Fall temperatures persist throughout much of a frost-free southern Alaska that is still holding fair numbers of teal. In the lower forty-eight, Youth Seasons are wrapping up and General Seasons is fast approaching. Scouting has made the difference in success for those who have had the opportunity to venture afield during the early goose seasons and youth hunts. Harvest reports are as spotty as wetlands in the Pacific Northwest leaving hunters still hoping for a windfall of precipitation. In California, Speckle Belly Goose numbers continue to build in the north and the first Teal and Sprig sightings are trickling in.
Despite bluebird days and record high temperatures on the Prairie, successful reports of an incredible Opening Day rolled in from North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. Healthy pockets of Pintail were reported as far south as Nebraska and it is guessed that a number of local mallards have moved from North Dakota back into Canada on recent southerly breezes. As expected teal harvests were low in these northern states and reports from Texas indicate teal numbers reducing as they head south of the border. In the other central and southern portions of the flyway, early teal seasons and early goose seasons continue with moderate success.
Crowded public lands and balmy temperatures kept Opening Day in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan interesting — to say the least. Success in most areas was determined by how close your neighboring waterfowler was and who shot on who\’s swing. For those that escaped the masses, the expected bag of teal, woodducks and pre-molt mallards graced the lanyard. Surprisingly, sizable flights of Ringnecks have been moving steadily throughout Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin over the past few days. Woodduck numbers were on the rise in Iowa and Northern Illinois the past week and teal, while scattered in pockets throughout the flyway continue a hard push south. In Louisiana, teal numbers decreased over the last week, as they have in Texas, indicating that teal are continuing their migration south of the border and into Mexico.
Early Goose Seasons continue to produce exceptional harvests along most of the eastern seaboard. Northern goose hunters are reporting excellent numbers of black ducks, teal, and woodducks — the primary bag of most northern Youth Hunts. With only a few early teal arriving in North Carolina the early season in Georgia is, at best, a mosquito festival for those daring to head to the field.