Central Waterfowl Migration Reports

February 1, 2013

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Name: Kirk Steffensen

Location: Lincoln, NE

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Unseasonable warm again this season with very little moisture.

Winter Snow Summary: Very little snow, we receive one snow storm during the season.

Season Water Conditions: The summer drought caused most of the rainwater basins to dry up and area ponds and lakes were down several feet. However, due to the warmer weather, lakes didn’t freeze solid until mid-December.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Good, again because of the dry weather most of the corn and bean fields were picked by mid-September.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Fair to poor -- we didn’t stage many birds until late December when our duck season was closed.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Above average – there were a lot of birds in the area throughout the season.

Notable Duck Migrations: We had two or three good migrations which produced a couple great duck hunts but nothing staged in the area.

Notable Goose Migrations: Goose migration was more of the trickle migration when any north wind would move new birds into the area. Never saw the massive snow goose migration like in years past.

Overall Hunting Report: Poor on ducks / above average on geese.

Name: Jared Shepard

Location: Scottsbluff, NE

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This season brought much warmer weather than last year and we didn’t see the usual western Nebraska wind until late in the season. Lots of sun and few clouds made the challenge a bit greater.

Winter Snow Summary: This hunting season echoed our spring and summer with very little moisture. We saw very little snow this winter.

Season Water Conditions: The North Platte River has remained open the whole season with slush forming only once that never developed into ice. Ponds froze later than last year providing many waterfowl a place to loaf and roost without current.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Despite a severe drought this past growing season, crops did well on average mainly due to the fact we had only one major hail storm. Good crops led to an average amount of waste grain that was readily available to the multitude of waterfowl that chose to stick it out in this area.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: We definitely held an above average number of ducks compared to the past few years.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: The number of geese in this region is nothing short of phenomenal! The complaints of “decoy shy” birds never occurred.

Notable Duck Migrations: This year we had no real huge push of ducks at any one given time. The trickledown effect took place up until about three weeks ago.

Notable Goose Migrations: The most notable goose migration was probably a reverse migration about two weeks ago when it warmed up after a cold front pushed through.

Overall Hunting Report: This was a great year all around for waterfowl! Whether you hunted ponds or the river, agricultural fields or dirt fields, there were birds here, there and everywhere in between. Mild weather and plenty of food kept an above average number of birds in the area and if you were fortunate enough to be able to hunt on the days we got weather it was just plain lights out!

Name: Vance Stolz

Location: Johnstown, Colorado

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: The early part of the season started off with cold temperatures and moderate snow fall. As December progressed we went through a series of cold fronts, which at times brought very cold temperatures, but not much snow fall. Early January started off cold, again with little snow giving way to unseasonably warm and dry weather patterns through the present time.

Winter Snow Summary: In early November we received moderate snow fall with several cold fronts that pushed through the Front Range of Colorado. Since then, Colorado has received well below its normal snow accumulation. As of now, the Front Range is experiencing one of its driest years in recent memory.

Season Water Conditions: Due to the dry conditions last summer, most bodies of water and rivers have remained well below their normal levels throughout the season. On a positive note, most large bodies of water did not freeze until later in the season allowing for roosting options.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Feeding conditions were very good for the birds this season. With a very large corn and winter wheat crop in the area, and below average snow fall, the birds have had numerous options in all food sources.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: For most of the season, duck numbers were well below average for this area. Although there were certain areas that held ducks throughout the season, numbers were down until early January. During the first week of January we had a very significant push of Mallards which remained in the area throughout the remainder of the season.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: The numbers of geese along the Front Range of Colorado have been very good throughout the entire season. We are fortunate to have strong numbers of resident geese in this area and a significant migration each year. This year has been well above average for the geese. We had an early northern cold front just before the regular season opened that many believe prompted one of the most significant goose migrations in this area, fortunately most the birds have remained up and down the Front Range throughout the entire season.

Notable Duck Migrations: Although we had some ducks here through most of the season, the only real notable migration, mostly of mallards, took place during the first week of January. Many hunters were reporting seeing several thousand of migrating mallards during that first week. The birds remained here through the end of duck season which ended January 27th.

Notable Goose Migrations: One of the biggest migrations of dark geese in recent memory pushed into the Front Range of Colorado a week before the regular season opener on November 17th. Fortunately the birds had open water and plenty of food sources when they arrived. Thousands of geese staged in our area and really never left. The birds will migrate short distances up and down the Front Range depending on weather patterns throughout the season. Depending on weather conditions, we experience some “reverse” migration late in our season, which is typically late January until our season ends in mid-February.

Overall Hunting Report: The 2012-2013 goose season has been one of the best in several years. The weather patterns and migrations lined up extremely well, which led to one of the most productive hunting seasons in this area of Colorado. Many hunters said there were geese in areas that we typically don’t see geese, which is a true statement. Some of this is due to low water levels in certain roosting areas, and some of this is due to the large numbers of geese staged in the area. For most, harvest numbers of geese are well above average this year. The duck season has certainly been an up and down year in this area. With the low water levels in this area of Colorado due to a dry summer, the ducks had fewer options of water. This along with the only significant migration coming late in the season made for sporadic harvest numbers of ducks. For hunters’ fortunate to have access to water where the birds wanted to be, their season was much more productive. The most significant migrations of mallards arrived during the first week of January, which made for a strong finish of the duck season for many both on the rivers and in the cornfields. Overall the Front Range Colorado waterfowl season has been one of the best in several years. Hunters throughout the area have experienced a season where the geese showed up in large numbers early and have remained here throughout the season. Although the ducks were not as consistent for some, others certainly had a very productive season.

Name: Jerrod Watson

Location: Northern Colorado, Greeley, Loveland and Fort Collins Area

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: It was a pretty mild season; we had only one really bad cold blast. For the most part the weather was nice and really didn’t affect the birds in any way.

Winter Snow Summary: It took us awhile to see snow this year but we did get some. Recently it has stuck around because of the dips in temperature but most of the accumulation was in the mountains.

Season Water Conditions: Water was better than expected. With the drought we have been having in Colorado we were scared of the water levels and water in general but for some reason the lack of water may have helped us out a little.

Overall Feeding Conditions: The feeding conditions were great. Corn was harvested sooner than normal which meant we got to get into the fields earlier than years past. Plus because of the mild weather conditions snow did not cover feed up and the river feeding was exceptional.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Well this was a hard one because overall we had the best year in 3 years in northern Colorado but I believe the number of birds were about the same as last year. I really do believe though I saw different species of ducks than I have in the past few years as well.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers I believe were way up. I believe there was a much larger migration and I really believe it could have been because of this mild weather. When talking to other hunters they seem to agree that goose numbers were up and the season was a good one for geese.

Notable Duck Migrations: Nothing really spectacular to report here, I think it was pretty normal for any year. The cold snap that we had for about two weeks really sent the birds through this area quickly.

Notable Goose Migrations: Last week was probably the largest migration of geese I have ever seen. I was on the South Platte last week just sitting in the blind and I bet I saw at least 100,000 geese going both ways north and south. It was most certainly a sight to see.

Overall Hunting Report: Like I have said throughout this report it was the best season we have had in years. Everyone I have talked to has killed more ducks and geese than in years past and me personally it was a record breaker. I am not sure what I can contribute to the success. Was it weather, dumber birds, bigger migration, smarter hunters, better dogs sweeter set ups. Maybe it was we are just shooting better. But all that I can say these types of seasons keep us true waterfowlers motivated to keep on doing it year after year. Until next year, fear God, love your neighbor and hunt DUCKS!!!!!