Central Waterfowl Migration Reports

October 11, 2010
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Name: David Ortley

Location: Kalispell, Montana

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This season was all about the frequent weather changes! Early in the season we were hit with a significant cold blast which froze all of the small water. In a three day period we had and lost the largest migration of birds we would see all season. What followed was a pattern of warming and freezing which affected the migration of birds from the north and the length of time they remained in the area. Because the freeze-thaw pattern was frequent we had fewer birds in the area at one time and those that were here stayed for a shorter time. This continued throughout the season and even impacted the diver migration.

Winter Snow Summary: We are currently at 115 percent of our normal snowfall. The snow began early and came in waves with the pattern described above. The accumulation which resulted from frequent storms was lessened by the rain that followed in the warming trend. The local mountains have more snow than we have seen in years and it appears that we will have good stream and river flow this coming spring and summer.

Season Water Conditions: The river froze early and did not open for several weeks. Most of the small water froze early and stayed hard! Once the river opened the flow slowed as expected with some rain adding to the volume. Overall the water levels were average it was just the unexpected early freeze that adversely affected the season.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Feeding was great for most of the season. Because of the very wet fall the farmers and ranchers were not able to get into the fields to plow them. As a result the stubble provided forage throughout the season. This proved to be advantageous for the birds that did stay in the valley.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Numbers appeared to be much lower than in previous years. One exception was the large number of pintail that came through. During the first hard freeze in late November we saw significant numbers of mallards but never saw that again in any species. Late season brought fewer divers than normal.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers were up overall. It appeared we had more geese in the valley for a longer period of time. Once again, we saw a huge migration during the late November freeze. Our “resident” population continues to grow.

Notable Duck Migrations: The only notable migration was late November when we saw massive flocks arrive and leave before and during some harsh weather.

Notable Goose Migrations: Once again, late November was remarkable as thousands of geese arrived and blew right on by. More geese came and went but there was not a noticeable migration as seen in past years because so many left early.

Overall Hunting Report: Hunting was tough! The weather was a major factor and often it was hard to predict what was going to be productive. Filed hunting proved to be the better option during those times we had birds in the area. Overall it was not a productive year for most hunters.

Name: Kirk Steffensen

Location: Lincoln, NE

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Nothing really notable, fall / winter weather was pretty normal. Several mild low pressure systems moved through but never had that majority system that pushed everything through in one day.

Winter Snow Summary: Not even close to the amount of snow we received last year. We received very little snow during duck season but got a couple good snow storms during the later part of goose season.

Season Water Conditions: Good! Early on the rainwater basins were in good to great shape. All the area lakes and ponds were also in good shape. We locked up around Thanksgiving which is pretty typical for our area.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Great! Corn and bean harvest was completed early giving birds plenty of time to utilize the fields.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Lots more observed this year. It seems like this was the first time in the past several years that eastern Nebraska received a good migration of duck, especially late season ducks.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Similar to years past.

Notable Duck Migrations: There was never the “big push” day in eastern Nebraska. Whenever there was a low pressure system push through the Dakota’s, we received new ducks.

Notable Goose Migrations: Same as the duck migration. The past several years there has been a day or two when almost all the snow geese push through the area. This didn’t occur this year, just smaller pushes on north wind days.

Overall Hunting Report: Good – our group was above average on ducks and geese this year.

Name: Jared Shepard

Location: Gering, NE

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This season seemed to be quite a bit milder than last year with a little less snow and a lot less wind.

Winter Snow Summary:We did not receive as much snow as last year but the snow we did get stuck around longer than the snow last year.

Season Water Conditions: Due to the warmer temperatures this year the river froze only twice. The majority of area ponds remained frozen for the duration of goose season with only a few of them opening for short periods.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Great! There was a lot of corn this year and most of it came off early or on time, providing the new birds with plenty of feeding opportunity throughout the entire season.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: I observed about the same number of ducks as last year but they stuck around longer than usual due to the mild temps, lack of snow, abundance of food and open water on the river.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: I believe we had more geese this year than last and they too seemed to stay longer, probably due to the same reasons as the ducks.

Notable Duck Migrations: It seems strange that we had the same number of ducks as last year with no notable migration. Unlike last year when we received a good number of ducks on only a few different occasions, this year we received a few ducks throughout the whole season.

Notable Goose Migrations: This year was very similar between both the ducks and the geese. The geese also seemed to trickle down until all of a sudden there seemed to be a lot around with the exception of the last week in November where we received a good push.

Overall Hunting Report: This seemed to be a good year for just about everyone in the area. I heard a lot of good reports from the locals in regards to the number of birds seen and bagged. Overall, I would rate this season as great!

Name: Vance Stolz

Location: Johnstown, Colorado

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This season we have had much less snowfall along the front range of Colorado in comparison to the last two-to-three years. The temperatures have been much milder for the most part with the exception of three or four cold fronts that brought very cold temps, but only for short durations.

Winter Snow Summary: Overall snowfall so far has been less than the last few years. The snowfall that we have received has not stayed on the ground very long due to warming temperatures between the few storms we have experienced. So far this season, we have not had snow on the ground for any extended amount of time.

Season Water Conditions: Larger water systems such as rivers, large reservoirs and ponds, stayed open until mid-December due to the mild temperatures. Since that time, we have had a mix of cold temps then warming trends, which has caused water/ ice conditions to change several times. Currently most bodies of water are frozen with only larger rivers flowing.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Feeding conditions have been very favorable for waterfowl this season. Most crops were harvested on time and very short periods of snow cover have allowed birds plenty of feeding options on varies types of crops.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Our duck numbers were somewhat difficult to count due to the birds remaining very concentrated with sporadic movements throughout the season. Early season numbers seemed to have been about average. The first significant migration of ducks took place around the third week of November and the birds remained here until our first substantial cold front in mid-December. We had a new push of mostly mallards, with some wigeon and pintails mixed in during a short time in mid-January. Those birds mostly pushed on in the later part of January.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Dark goose numbers were up this year along the front range of Colorado. Resident numbers seem to increase each year and plenty of geese migrated in during the early part of November. For the most part, the birds have stayed in the general area most of the season with some pushes in and out with varies weather fronts. Overall, goose numbers were substantially higher than in recent years.

Notable Duck Migrations: Early season duck numbers were about average for our region. A large push of mallards took place around the third week of November which boosted the numbers in our area to several thousand ducks. These birds stayed in our area until a cold front came through around the middle of December. From mid-December until mid-January, duck numbers were somewhat scarce. Starting about January 12th a substantial increase in mallards took place increasing our numbers. This was short lived however, when most of the ducks spread out and pushed on approximately one week later, which was the end of our duck season.

Notable Goose Migrations: Several cold fronts north of Colorado starting in early November, pushed large numbers of geese into our region. Fortunately, our weather patterns at the time were very mild, water systems were open, and most crops were harvested. This set up some of the best situations possible for hunters throughout the front range of our state. The cold weather stayed just north of us and caused several pushes of migrating geese right into our area all the way through December. Although we have had several cold fronts, starting in mid-December, they have been relatively short in duration. This has allowed the birds to settle into our area and not completely push on south. We have already experienced some reverse migration of mostly small geese, but this has been somewhat sporadic due to some recent very cold weather.

Overall Hunting Report: Waterfowl hunting has been very good during the 2010-11 season. The goose hunting has remained very consistent for most of the season with only very short periods of slow bird movements during certain weather patterns. Duck numbers were average for the season and migrations were sporadic, but when the birds were here, the hunting surpassed most expectations. Overall, this season will be one to be remembered by most hunters in this region. For the hunters who scouted, used the correct tactics, and hunted hard, this year was one of the best in several years along the front range of Colorado.

Name: David Williams

Location: Choctaw, Oklahoma

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This season was impacted heavily by severe drought conditions in much of the state. The extended dry weather produced poor water conditions in most area sloughs, ponds and lakes.

Winter Snow Summary: Limited snow accumulations were seen throughout most of the season. However, the state is currently blanketed with snow after a strong snow storm passed through on February 1st.

Season Water Conditions: This season’s water conditions were poor at best following a severe drought that goes back to summer of 2010.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Ducks were quick to recognize the poor water conditions and focused primarily on beans in the afternoons and evenings. Geese transitioned to winter wheat in early November and never left it. Dry conditions in the state had most farmers working their corn grain multiple times during the fall leaving little grain on top for the birds.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers were really good during Oklahoma’s first season with better than average numbers in November and December. But Oklahoma’s second season was below average compared to previous years as the big migrations usually seen in late December and January staged heavily in Kansas.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers were good all season long. Oklahoma’s abundant resident goose population provided good early season shooting in November. Excellent numbers of Canadas and white fronted geese followed up in December and January providing good opportunities on winter wheat.

Notable Duck Migrations: Early season migrations were light to moderate but consistent following persistent northerly winds. Late season migrations were less than impressive with unusually low snow cover in Kansas holding the birds tight just north of the state this season.

Notable Goose Migrations: Goose migrations were right on time this season, providing good hunts in December and January.

Overall Hunting Report: This season was full of highs and lows, probably ranking right on average overall.