Season Summary: Updated February 6, 2017
Name: Michael Clement
Location: Devils Lake, North Dakota
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: A lot more wet then the past couple seasons. Temperatures were about normal.
Winter Snow Summary: Around 40 inches of snow this season which is a lot more than the past couple seasons.
Season Water Conditions: Water conditions should be abundant this spring with the amount of snow we have already received.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Normal.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: A few less birds around compared to other years because spring conditions were pretty dry.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers were good once some early migrators came down from Canada.
Notable Duck Migrations: Duck migrations were about normal this year maybe a little behind schedule with the warm weather we had for the first half of the season.
Notable Goose Migrations: A lot of snow geese stayed in the Canadian providences into November this year because of the warmer first half of the season. Once the temperatures cooled off they dropped fast causing the birds to push through the state pretty fast.
Overall Hunting Report: This season was fairly good overall. A lot of crops came off earlier this year because of drier conditions. Bird numbers were a little lower than in the past but overall bird numbers are still good. With how much snow we have received so far, this winter it should make for good breeding conditions this coming spring.
Name: David Ortley
Location: Kalispell, Montana
Notable Weather Changes/Differences: This season was marked by early high water and record river flow which affected hunting throughout the first half of the season. Areas normally exposed were under water and edges of usable cover that could be hunted were removed from most decoy spreads. The added water in adjoining wetlands made retrieval of downed birds quite difficult. Cold weather did not materialize until later than normal and then it turned very cold with all water normally open frozen solid for most of the balance of the season. The extreme cold was a couple of months early and set numerous records. By the time the weather moderated late in the season the significant migration of birds was done.
Winter Snow Summary: Snow started as usual just after thanksgiving but was not significant. We then started receiving significant amounts of snow on a regular basis. For several weeks, it snowed multiple times a week. The snow accumulated to levels not seen since 1996. We currently have twice as much accumulated snow as normal and it continues. The mountains have received near records amounts of snow throughout northwest Montana.
Season Water Conditions: Due to sustained rain in the early fall the river levels rose dramatically and the flow of the river was at times three times its normal flow. This massive flow continued well into November and was followed by a very hard freeze. The rain saturated area fields and should pay dividends in the coming year.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Feeding conditions were great notwithstanding the water we received. Stubble in fields was accessible up until the snow and freezing temperatures made them inaccessible. Once the snow stated piling up the feeding conditions became dire.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: The overall population appeared to be down. This was largely due to the unseasonably warm and wet fall that kept birds north for longer than normal. When they started moving it appears that we were passed by for the most part due to the snow and bitter cold. We had a few periods with plenty of birds but they were few and quite unpredictable.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: The goose population was down significantly. It seems as if the local population was up, and that they stayed for a long time. However, the migration appeared to be way off. Once again, the birds may well have just flew on by the frozen snow covered Flathead Valley.
Notable Duck Migrations: We had a couple of notable migrations of mallards early, but then it appeared as if all species came in small groups periodically. There were significant numbers of gadwall and wigeon mixed in but not near the number we expect to see.
Notable Goose Migrations: Strangely enough there wasn’t a noticeable migration. We had geese but not in large numbers at one time. Once the cold hit it appeared that the geese left and we just didn’t see more arrive in waves as we normally do.
Overall Hunting Report: Early hunting was good if you could access smaller water and sloughs. The high water hampered river hunting. Once it got cold the spring fed smaller water produced birds. Field hunting for geese was great until the snow hit and them feed disappeared. Soon after the brutal cold hit and the birds left for warmer weather. All in all it was the season that wasn’t!
Name: Kirk Steffensen
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Highly variable temperatures as temperatures were abnormally warm during the early part of the season then very cyclic. One week would barely get into the teens then the next would be in the 50s.
Winter Snow Summary: Very little snow during the waterfowl seasons, most of the “big” forecasted snows missed our area or came down as rain/ice.
Season Water Conditions: Good water conditions in ponds and lakes but the low-lying basins were mostly dry.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Typical, lots of corn and bean fields in the area and farmers got them picked on time.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Below average, I still don’t understand when ducks pushed through the area. We had one major duck migration over us.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Dark goose numbers seem to increase annually. City limits were holding thousands and thousands of birds.
Notable Duck Migrations: One main migration pushed the majority of mallard through the area in late-November but still don’t understand when-where the grey ducks and divers pushed. A lot of our big winds were northeast so I speculate ducks likely pushed into Iowa.
Notable Goose Migrations: Similar to the duck migration but more geese hung around. Never saw the mass snow goose migration.
Overall Hunting Report: Overall, our duck numbers were slightly down from previous years. Early teal and early brown duck numbers were terrible but late season mallards were fair. Goose hunting was above average chasing them in the fields late.