The tug of war between fall and summer weather continued this past week. As more states opened their regular season, the unsettled weather pattern brought mixed results from coast to coast. Good, bad, or in between it was still better than a day in the office.
Hello, folks, and, as always, welcome to Waterfowler.com.
The northern tier states are open and the migration is ramping up to head south. Now is the time to make intercept plans, and the Waterfowler.com Timber Hunt is a great place to do it. This year’s Timber Hunt will take place in the storied wintering grounds around Stuttgart, AR with Mallard Retreat Lodge. Waterfowler.com Members and staff will gather at Mallard Retreat from January 4th – 7th to hunt ducks in an area famous for greenheads in green timber or over rice. Booking this year will be done through the Waterfowler.com ProTravel Services in the Online ProShop. Spaces are limited so book your spot now and let the anticipation begin!
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And now, on to the Migration Report
Cold fronts continue to roll down out of the northwest and across the Canadian heartland but most have been mild at best. The migration across most of Canada has been slow but steady and looks to be on the same track for the week ahead.
Diver and goose numbers continue to build around central MB but locals report that “the big push” has yet to arrive.
Southern BC has been producing heavy game straps for both puddle ducks and geese this past week, and with no major cold on the way, numbers in the province should remain steady, possibly building slightly over the next week.
Eastern portions of Canada have also been affected by a lack of colder weather, but said lack has kept birds from pushing further south and into the US. Sea ducks, divers and dabblers are continuing to stage along the border, and with any luck, hunters should not see a mass departure of birds for the upcoming week.
Washington and Idaho both reported good opening weekends. Western WA hunters where loaded with Wigeon while the mallard bag was better on the east side of the state and into Idaho. Rain and mild weather for the upcoming weekend will most likely mean hunters are after wiser birds that escaped the opener.
Farther down the flyway, fair numbers of teal, pintail and wigeon continue to be reported, but no recent movements of new birds have been seen. Waterfowlers along the lower end of the flyway should expect “calendar ducks” to continue to arrive as the days shorten, but will have to keep their fingers crossed and wait for a cold front before the geese and large puddle ducks move any further down the flyway.
Renewed warm weather made for tough hunting over the weekend for most hunters in the upper central flyway. Both ducks and geese seemed to settle back into lazy late summer patterns, and what birds were around were less than cooperative.
The mid-section of the flyway did report a fair increase in wigeon and gadwall numbers early this week and the return of cooler weather should have birds behaving more favorably for waterfowlers able to get out before the weekend.
Minnesota hunters report heavy concentrations of divers and puddle ducks already in the state. Hopefully these early arrivals will hang around as a slight cooling trend moves across the upper flyway.
Farther east across the upper tier, bird numbers are not as impressive and pressure is making every webfooted thing edgy and distant. Hunters who have put aside spinning wing decoys are getting better results with the wise localized flocks.
Toward the far eastern edge of the flyway heavy rains will change things as cooler weather invades the Lakes region and a shift of birds down from Canada should be expected as the temperatures drop.
Overall, the Upper Mississippi Flyway should begin to see more migration as this and another cold front sweep across the region over the next week.
Rain and winds will bring more seasonal weather back to the upper Atlantic Flyway late this week. Ahead of the front, early reports are already filtering in of geese moving into Maryland and other coastal states. Local duck numbers in New England have been good over the past week and should not be dramatically altered by the return to more normal temperatures.
Mid-latitude states may see a slight jump in bird numbers as some of the less hardy locals bug out ahead of the cold front rolling across the upper coastal states.
The upper reaches of all four flyways are open for business now and with any luck Mother Nature will cooperate and put some frigid force behind the lingering flocks holding north of the border. Fall, at least by the calendar, is upon us and waterfowlers are waiting to see what will arrive on the winds of the first big front of the season.