Welcome to Steve McCadams' Weekly
Waterfowl Report. Waterfowlers wanting to monitor
activity of ducks and geese here in Tennessee's Kentucky Lake
area, along with reports from elsewhere in the Mississippi
flyway, will want to check in often for the latest migratory
movement, state and federal refuge counts, and other interesting
information for hunters.
(Waterfowl Reports containing
refuge surveys and overall duck and goose hunting activity,
along with interesting tidbits on waterfowling will resume here
in early November)
YOUTH WATERFOWL HUNTS NEAR…AS DUCK SEASON WOUND DOWN SO DID THE NUMBER OF DUCKS
By Steve McCadams - January 31, 2013
For the old folks duck season ended at sunset last Sunday. For kids ages 6-15 there are two more days set aside especially for them.
This year’s Youth Waterfowl Hunting Season will consist of two days and while that has been the case for several years this will be the first time it has been open on two separate Saturdays. Kids will
have a chance to hunt this Saturday and again on February 9.
The Tennessee Fish and Game Commission made the changes this year courtesy of allocations in the federal framework sent down to the states by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
As has been the case in all special youth hunts youngsters must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years of age who is in a position to take control of the hunting device. Multiple youths may be
accompanied by an adult.
It’s a good change to introduce a youngster to the sport or help those already enthused to further enjoy the sunrises of ducks descending, sausage and biscuits in the blind, and the whole waterfowl
atmosphere of fun and fellowship.
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REFUGE DUCK NUMBERS DOWN
Recent aerial surveys taken at both Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge on Kentucky Lake and Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge on Barkley Lake may help tell the story as to the dilemma
for duck hunters as season wound down last Sunday.
Leading up to the last week of season the number of ducks were down significantly on both refuges compared to not only last year at this time but long-term averages. While the waterfowl
estimates are not totally tied to hunting success rates in the region, they are an indication of what hunters have to work with as to ducks wintering here in the general area.
Surveys were flown last Wednesday on TNWR and there were 110,606 duck and 5,781 geese observed. Duck numbers were down 15 percent from the last survey taken in early January when they should
have increased. To put the survey into perspective the numbers were down 20 percent from last year at this time; down 44 percent from the 5-year average; down 28 percent from the 10-year average; and, down 25
percent from the 15-year average according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data.
Aerial surveys taken last Tuesday at CCNWR on Barkley Lake showed 43,870 ducks, a number that was 9 percent below last year at this time. The number of ducks was also 13 percent below the 5-year
No doubt duck hunters faced tough odds in the region as ducks seemed to be down for most folks and the recent flooding across portions of four states scattered waterfowl over a very large area
during the last two weeks of the season.
With the exception of aerial surveys taken back in the third week of November before season opened when dry conditions concentrated ducks wherever there was water, the surveys at both TNWR and CCNWR
were below average throughout December and January. The scenario of low duck numbers throughout the season at a time when they should have been increasing helps paint the true picture for duck hunters this year.
Weather did not cooperate as it was another warm winter and while that no doubt played a role, hunters were still somewhat mystified at times as the lack of ducks seen even when a few cold
fronts andwind descended proved to be disappointing.
There were some exceptions and some blinds enjoyed a few good days that picked up their spirits only to have the activity dwindle quickly. The honeymoon of success for the bulk of waterfowlers
and sweet across the board.
It’s fair to say the season was inconsistent for most duck hunters and while some boasted about bragging rights as to their harvest, they were in the minority.
It was supposed to be a good year with a record high fall flight forecast by the Canadian Wildlife Service and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service based on their estimates and observations
on the prairie
pothole region where ducks raise their broods each spring. Water was there with abundant habitat last spring and the ducks supposedly had a good hatch but just where they wintered is still somewhat of a
southern duck hunters in several states.
DUCK HUNTERS HOPING FOR REBOUND…RAINS AND COOL SNAP SHOULD HELP
By Steve McCadams - January 24, 2013
Duck hunters will begin the dreaded tasks of picking up decoys, storing blinds and boats, and mopping up the mess after season ends Sunday. Tennessee’s 60-day season that began way back on the last Saturday in November
will draw to a close at sunset January 27.
For the lion’s share of waterfowlers across West Tennessee and here in the Kentucky Lake area it has been another tough season. Some hunters have fared well at times with a few mornings of activity that perked them up but the overall picture has been dismal for most duck hunters who struggled throughout late November, December and most of January.
Some improvement occurred the last week to ten days courtesy of heavy rains that preceded a drastic weather change. Cold weather kicked in earlier this week and stimulated activity but flooding across a four to five state region has really scattered ducks, a scenario that contrasted to the majority of season when lack of water plagued many hunters and hunting spots.
For the first time this season some areas were battling ice at midweek after temps dropped into the teens and calm winds allowed shallow areas to freeze up. Icing has been rare this season for backwater bottoms and a lot of hunters didn’t have sufficient water until the last week or two.
Other areas across the region got off to a good start as the first two weeks were productive if you had water. The dry conditions across the region helped those who had water enjoy a good start. Ducks flocked to the limited water and feeding areas early, concentrating them and that really worked well for a portion of the state but the honeymoon was over after a week or two of good shooting.
Drainage areas flowing into the Mississippi River such as the Obion, Forked Deer, and Hatchie rivers were backed out due to heavy rains last week and have been slow to recede as has Kentucky Lake itself. Thousands of backwater acres that had been dry most of the season received quick water last week and lured ducks to the abundance of new feeding and resting areas.
The drastic change can be good for a few hunters who may be mobile enough to move around and find spots ducks are using but it can be difficult on normal flyway areas and permanent blind sights for a few days that rely on traditional routes of duck movement.
That seems to have been the case for most this week but backwaters are now falling or freezing up and that should help traditional spots as season winds down. Reports from local wildlife management areas such as West Sandy, Big Sandy, Gin Creek, Camden and Dover bottoms have had mixed reports with only a small percentage of blinds with bragging rights.
Updated waterfowl surveys were underway Wednesday on Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge as aerial counts were being flown. However, results were not available for this week’s deadline.
Recent surveys were flown by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday at Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge on Barkley Lake. Ducks numbers there were estimated at 43,870, which is up 11 percent from the previous survey taken a few weeks ago but 9 percent below last year at this time. The present number of ducks is also 13 percent below the 5-year average at CCNWR.
Geese were estimated to be only 2,992. That number is 33 percent below the 5-year average and 19 percent below the 10-year average for CCNWR for this time of year.
DUCK HUNTERS HOPING FOR REBOUND…RAINS AND COOL SNAP SHOULD HELP
By Steve McCadams - January 17, 2013
Drastic changes have been underway in the
waterfowling world since last week as heavy rains drenched the
region and flooded portions of five states, a scenario that has
While last weekend’s cold front stimulated
some movement for a day or two with northeast winds and falling
temperatures, the downpours pretty much inundated low lying
areas all across West Tennessee and quickly offered thousands of
acres for waterfowl to feed and rest. Portions of northern
Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, southeast Missouri and west
Kentucky were also soaked.
Although much of the area had been needing
water for the majority of the season, it appears rain in excess
of three inches that fell on already saturated areas has proven
to be too much too quick. A few hunters benefited from the
rapidly rising waters on Sunday and Monday in a few spots along
the Obion, Forked Deer, and Hatchie River bottoms in West
Increased numbers of ducks entered the
backwaters and followed the rapidly rising rivers where soybean
and corn fields that had been dry all season suddenly became
appealing. Some flooded swamps and timber also attracted ducks
but it has been tough for most hunters who have been victims of
too much water.
Here in the Kentucky and Barkley Lakes
area it appeared the flooding to our west robbed a lot of ducks
that had been using local refuges and wildlife management areas.
That’s not unusual as the ducks know when fresh water backs out
in river bottoms and seem to head that direction literally
While a few diver species remain on the
big water areas most hunters report diminishing numbers of
puddle ducks observed the last few days. There have been quite a
few bluebills, canvasbacks, ringnecks, and buffleheads rafting
among huge numbers of coots that have stayed around this winter
and taken advantage of the aquatic vegetation.
Water levels were beginning to recede at
midweek across much of the region but it will take several days
for both reservoirs and backwaters to return normal.
There were a few good reports from hunters
fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time
earlier this week as ducks moved up bottoms toward fresh feeding
areas. Some of the best hunting reports came from areas that had
been dry or unproductive all season until the flood came in on
The most recent aerial surveys available
were taken January 7th by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
showed some increase in duck numbers on both the Tennessee
National Wildlife Refuge on Kentucky Lake and Cross Creeks
National Wildlife Refuge on Barkley Lake near Dover.
Duck numbers have increased to 130,429 on
TNWR, which was up 23 percent from the previous survey taken the
third week of December. However, duck numbers were 11 percent
below last year at this time and 33 percent below the 5-year
average for this time of year at the refuge. The total estimate
was also 20 percent below the 10-year average and 23 percent
below the 15-year average, which further reflects the long spell
of warm weather that descended in mid-December and hung around.
Topping the species list were 74,586
mallards, followed by 15,430 gadwall, 10,370 pintails, and 9,649
greenwing teal. Normally greenwing teal have moved through the
area by now but have hung around due to warm weather.
The Duck River unit of the TNWR was
holding the lion’s share of the total count at 77,574. The Big
Sandy unit had 46,617 of the total with the smaller Busseltown
until holding 6,233 ducks. There were a total of 4,345 geese
observed on the refuge as well plus 39 eagles.
Over at Cross Creeks National Wildlife
Refuge there were 39,463 ducks and 2,862 geese observed in the
aerial survey. The total duck count is 85 percent above the
previous survey and 21 percent above last year at this same
time. The numbers are 17 percent below the 5-year average
With just over a week left in the
statewide season it will be interesting to see how ducks move as
high water recedes. Another cold front is in the forecast for
early next week so that should help as hunters hit the home
stretch in Tennessee’s 60-day season.
Tennessee’s season ends January 27th.
After that, two special youth waterfowl hunts are scheduled for
February 2 and 9. Kids age 6-15 will have two separate Saturdays
this year to call their own.
DUCK HUNTERS HOPING FOR REBOUND…RAINS AND COOL SNAP SHOULD HELP
By Steve McCadams - January 10, 2013
Rain entered the picture for duck hunters across the Midsouth as the weekend approached and most say it won’t dampen their spirits if a cool front follows and stirs up sitting
ducks. Conditions are supposed to change for the better by late this weekend and early next week so that could stimulate some movement and improve the hunting scene.
It has been another unusual week of warm, balmy weather with some days reaching the upper 60’s. According to the National Weather Service that’s some twenty degrees above normal
for this time of year and it has not worked in favor of weary waterfowlers waiting on a cold front.
Duck hunters are hoping the last two weeks of season pick their spirits up and help rebound from dismal days that have lingered far too long for the lion’s share of waterfowlers
across the region. There are a few success stories out there but the overall scenario seems to be tough for most hunters who have battled low water, high temperatures, calm winds, and stubborn ducks
for several weeks running.
Heavy rains were in progress over much of the region as this report was compiled and that could change things in many backwater bottoms and Mississippi River bottom tributaries in
the days ahead. Some places were still in need of water while others pumped up fields but have not gotten usage from stagnant waterfowl which haven’t had to move around much in search of food.
Updated aerial surveys taken Monday (January 7th) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show some increase in duck numbers on both the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge on Kentucky
Lake and Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge on Barkley Lake near Dover.
Duck numbers have increased to 130,429 on TNWR, which is up 23 percent from the previous survey taken the third week of December. However, duck numbers are 11 percent below last
year at this time and 33 percent below the 5-year average for this time of year at the refuge. The total estimate was also 20 percent below the 10-year average and 23 percent below the 15-year average,
which further reflects the long spell of warm weather that descended in mid-December and hung around.
Topping the species list were 74,586 mallards, followed by 15,430 gadwall, 10,370 pintails, and 9,649 greenwing teal. Normally greenwing teal have moved through the area by now
but have hung around due to warm weather.
The Duck River unit of the TNWR was holding the lion’s share of the total count at 77,574. The Big Sandy unit had 46,617 of the total with the smaller Busseltown until holding
6,233 ducks. There were a total of 4,345 geese observed on the refuge as well plus 39 eagles.
Over at Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge there were 39,463 ducks and 2,862 geese observed in the aerial survey. The total duck count is 85 percent above the previous survey
and 21 percent above last year at this same time. The numbers are 17 percent below the 5-year average however.
Hunters here usually see a surge in activity during early January and while that has not occurred for most of the region, things could change by early next week in the aftermath
of heavy rains and warm weather’s departure.
Tennessee’s season runs through January 27th so a series of north winds and cool snaps could help erase a sluggish scenario to some degree and help hunters go out on a good note
as season winds down. A few good days can do wonders for the morale.
DUCKS DODGING WEARY WATERFOWLERS
By Steve McCadams - January 03, 2013
Despite a few cool days during the holiday period ducks have dodged the decoys spreads of weary waterfowlers over a large portion of western Tennessee and Kentucky, along with
several areas of eastern Arkansas and the Bootheel of Missouri. Northern Mississippi has reported tough sledding too.
A lot of veteran waterfowlers are somewhat mystified at the duck dilemma given that some cold weather arrived this week. Up north cold conditions were underway this week too, which
should be sending ducks winging to southern wintering grounds but hunters haven’t been seeing them in big numbers.
There are still lakes and ponds which have yet to freeze up serving as staging areas in northern states and that has provided a haven for ducks ride it out above the Mason-Dixon Line.
Colder weather was in progress so changing conditions to our north should continue to freeze up shallow water areas and stimulate some movement in our direction.
What was supposed to be a record high fall flight of ducks based on estimates by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service has yet to materialize for a large
portion of the Mississippi Flyway. The southern states have not fared well but a portion of northern states have had slow hunting too so it’s been rather unusual.
Northern Missouri had been holding on to a lot of ducks in late December and their season expired last week as did northern Indiana where reports from there indicate open water was
still in existence. Duck numbers increased in the upper portion of the Hoosier State during the holiday period as their season was winding down.
Across the West Tennessee and Kentucky region ducks were still below average as to numbers seen and harvested the last week or so. However, January usually brings an influx of ducks
and change can happen literally overnight once weather acts up.
Reports from some popular hunt areas in extreme west Tennessee were struggling to see and bag ducks even after they pumped up corn and soybean fields after a dry start in the early
season. Reelfoot Lake duck hunters have had a tough year too as low lake levels there have plagued them since season opened.
A big portion of the blinds at Reelfoot Lake have not had enough water to hunt this season and those that have reported below average harvests.
Around the Kentucky Lake region most of the public wildlife management areas such as Camden bottoms, West Sandy, Big Sandy and Dover bottoms on Lake Barkley have had suffered similar
fates. Some of the more popular blinds are experiencing below average takes as ducks have not flocked to their usual areas in significant numbers. One exception has been Gin Creek WMA where a few blinds
have done well.
In the open water of Kentucky Lake ducks have been down too after hunters got off to a good start in the early season. Numbers of diver species increased this week as several flocks of
bluebills, canvasbacks, and ringnecks were observed darting about as were a few goldeneye and bufflehead but mallards, gadwalls, widgeons, and pintail numbers diminished over the last couple of weeks.
No recent aerial surveys have been taken by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge or Cross Creeks Wildlife Refuge but updates will likely occur next week.
Hunters have just over three weeks left in the season so ample time remains to catch some good weather and see the sluggish season rebound. Tennessee’s season will run through January 27,
COLD FRONTS IMPROVE DUCK PICTURE
By Steve McCadams - December 27, 2012
Drastic weather changes usually work in favor of waterfowlers and it seems ole’ Santa delivered this year with a cool snap to the region that dropped temperatures dramatically.
The last few days duck hunters have had to zip up their coats as snow pushed by gale force north winds made it clear winter was here.
Hunting has improved for some areas as no doubt more ducks have entered the area and those already here have been out and about more searching for food. Areas to our northwest
experienced more snow than the Kentucky Lake area and further west most of Arkansas and Missouris, along with west Kentucky are still digging out from the snowstorm that really hammered them.
Another front is expected to arrive this weekend too, which should continue to work in favor of waterfowlers. The second half of season is starting off much better than did the first
half when above average temperatures dominated for several weeks.
From the local scene comes reports of some improvement for a few wildlife management areas that have endured tough times since season opened due to both water and weather conditions.
West Sandy had some increase in activity at midweek, especially in the upper end of the bottom where fresh water likely appealed to ducks looking for new feeding areas.
Big Sandy and Gin Creek WMAs saw some improvement too as did some blinds in Camden bottoms. Still, some hunters were reporting low numbers of ducks seen and taken at midweek as their
expectations after the front came through were not met. Ducks can be disrespectful you know!
The weather to our northwest really dropped a lot of snow across that region and ducks should be moving to our locale in the days ahead with the approach of another cold front. However,
hunters in much of extreme West Tennessee had not fared well lately. And, many blinds at Reelfoot Lake were lacking water and waterfowl prior to this week’s cold front.
Things are changing this week and the overall waterfowl picture should improve across a vast area. Surveys on several state refuges to our north and from various hunt clubs report a lot
of ducks were still hanging around up there despite the recent snow storm as open water was still holding them.
No aerial surveys were updated in the Kentucky/Barkley Lakes area this week but watch for updates here by next week from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
There is still a lot of hunting time left as Tennessee reached the half-way mark of season at midweek. January is traditionally a good month for duck hunters here as weather usually
The second half of season is certainly getting started on the right foot in terms of weather patterns that should push ducks down south to their wintering grounds. Last year the lion’s
share of ducks didn’t migrate here in big numbers but things are shaping up to be quite different.
Duck hunting and football seasons sometimes have a lot in common; last year’s season doesn’t mean much. It how the game goes this week that matters most!
WATERFOWLERS HOPE CHANGE IMPROVES STAGNANT SEASON
By Steve McCadams - December 20, 2012
Duck hunters across the region are hoping Santa comes a little early with a cold front hidden in his bag. It appears a long overdue weather change has indeed arrived,
filling a portion of the wish list of weary waterfowlers who have endured a stagnant season for the most part.
As this waterfowl update was underway a significant weather change was on the threshold and knocking at the door with thunderstorms preceding gusty winds and falling
temperatures. Wednesday’s high was around 66 degrees but a 25-degree change was part of the forecast as the weekend approaches. That ought to boost things as hunters will finally have to button
up their shirts.
Since season opened back in late November duck hunters have had only two or three days when north winds entered the picture. Cold fronts have been rare this season so
the one now in progress is a nice early Christmas present.
Aerial surveys taken last Monday on the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge here on Kentucky Lake help paint the picture that waterfowlers were facing. Although duck
numbers have increased from the previous survey taken about two weeks ago, the count indicates numbers are 20 percent below last year at this time.
Comparisons to long-term averages further reveal the tough times duck hunters have been facing lately as duck numbers are 39 percent below the 5-year average; 28 percent
below the 10-year average; and 30 percent below the 15-year average for this time of year on the TNWR.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Robert Wheat’s aerial survey showed a total of 106,138 ducks estimated and 2,669 geese on the three units of TNWR. Topping the list
were mallards at 67,725, followed by gadwalls at 15,041 and greenwing teal at 5,762. Ringnecks were estimated to be 5,700.
Other diver species such as bufflehead, goldeneye, and scaup were low, a further reflection of the warm weather that has dominated the region and the northern portion
of the flyway as well. No freezing has occurred to our north on staging area and big lakes or rivers but change is now in process as the strong cold front blows across the upper and central
portion of the flyway.
A breakdown between units of the refuge showed Duck River holding the lion’s share with 66,154 out of the total estimate. The Big Sandy unit had 39,136 and the small
Busseltown unit had 848 ducks.
While there are enough ducks in the estimate to provide decent hunting in the area the mild weather has not stimulated much movement from lazy waterfowl basking in the sun.
There have been a lot of “bluebird days”, a term used by waterfowlers to describe the clear blue days full of calm winds and above average temperatures more favorable to fishermen than fowlers.
The cold front in progress will have quite a thrust to it as snow has entered the picture across a lot of the Midwest where mild conditions have lingered the last few weeks.
Hunting should improve here and across the region for a few days but to keep the migration active and stimulate movement duck hunters will need more cool snaps and brisk north winds to sustain the
Given the long stretch of mild weather it comes as no surprise that overall activity has been off for most of the region, although there have been some mornings when
activity perked up if wind arrived. Generally speaking, hunters have been hunting the same ducks now for two or three weeks and that’s quite challenging. Some “new kids on the block” are badly
West Tennessee hasn’t been alone in the dismal duck picture lately either. Arkansas duck numbers are down compared to the average for the last four years.
Last week’s aerial waterfowl survey showed a population estimate that’s much lower than the 2009-2012 average. Based on observations by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
biologists, the state’s Delta has an estimated duck population of less than 800,000 ducks, a number similar to what biologists counted during the November survey but a significant decline from
the 2009-2012 average for the December survey period.
Meanwhile, a snapshot of the local hunting scene in several wildlife management areas such as Camden Bottoms, West Sandy, Big Sandy, Dover Bottoms and Gin Creek indicates
action has been below average. Some of the more popular blinds in the public hunt areas have struggled lately, despite increased water levels over the last week to ten days.
A few success stories were coming in from some private hunt clubs that only hunt two or three days each week but even those have been inconsistent the last week or so due
to a lack of new ducks entering the area. Ducks that are here have been reluctant to move around and when they do their behavior has been skittish.
Duck activity should change quickly as the dramatic change underway will bring more ducks to us and stir up what’s here. The next few days will see cold nights and chilly
mornings enter the picture.
There is a lot of hunting time left as Tennessee’s season hasn’t reached the half-way mark just yet. Season here runs through January 27, 2013 so ample time remains for a
turnaround. Most duck hunters know action can change literally overnight.
WATERFOWLERS WAITING ON WIND AND WEATHER CHANGE
By Steve McCadams - December 13, 2012
Duck hunters in the Kentucky Lake area and all across West Tennessee welcomed Monday’s strong north winds and weather change after some overdue rain drenched much of the region
last weekend. Cooler temperatures entered the waterfowl scene, breaking the hold of an extended spell of warm weather that had dominated for almost a month.
Once the warm spell released its grip cooler conditions have hung around this week, bringing temperatures back to a normal range for mid-December. However, since the cold front
on Monday winds have diminished dramatically and ducks have been a bit sluggish to move around. Several days of back to back stagnant winds have not favored movement from ducks that are rafting up and
basking in the sun.
Hunters had a good day or two with the cold front but now need another push of weather to stimulate things and put ducks in the air. No doubt a few ducks migrated into the region
but even with cooler temperatures duck hunters need the wind to stimulate activity.
Some additional rain is in the forecast for Saturday and perhaps a cool front will enter the picture by the middle of next week if not sooner.
Last weekend’s rain helped many low lying gain water for the first time this season. It may have scattered ducks out a bit too as the new flooded areas were appealing to ducks
searching for puddle water and new feeding spots.
Hunting improved in several bottoms and swamps across West Tennessee this week. Open water areas on Kentucky and Barkley lakes were still producing too but the number of ducks was
down from a week ago. Still, several gadwalls, mallards, pintails and greenwing teal were moving on the rivers as were a few scaup and ringneck.
Aerial surveys were updated this week after being flown by USFWS back on December 3rd. While duck numbers increased in the survey it’s important to note that this survey was taken
prior to the cold front that arrived on Monday. So duck numbers have likely increased since this survey.
Meanwhile, the most recent aerial survey showed duck numbers on the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge here on Kentucky Lake increasing to 85,379. The estimate was a 43 percent
increase over the previous survey taken back in mid-November but actually 19 percent below the 5-year average, 12 percent below the 10-year average and 2 percent below the 15-year average for this time of year.
Mallards topped the list of species at 45,370, followed by gadwalls at 14,246. Next on the top five roster was greenwing teal at 5,755 followed by ringnecks at 4,690 and pintails at
4,480. There were 1,500 geese using the refuge as well, along with 41 eagles.
The Duck River unit was holding 55,859 of the total count and Big Sandy had 29,301.
Over on Barkley Lake at Dover Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge was holding 21,291 ducks and 1,513 geese. Numbers there were 54 percent over the previous survey but like TNWR the
long-term averages were down, a likely result of the warm weather during and prior to the survey.
Duck numbers were 5 percent below the 5-year average but 22 percent above the 10-year average according to USFWS data.
Now that water levels have increased in many wildlife management areas duck hunters that were high and dry the first two weeks of season will now enter the shooting scene.
Pretty much all duck hunters need wind and that has been lacking most days but things should improve as the weekend approaches and another cool snap enters the forecast with those
precious north breezes.
COOLER WEATHER COMING…DUCK HUNTERS READY FOR A CHANGE
By Steve McCadams - December 06, 2012
Duck hunting across the region has had another week of mixed results where high temperatures and low water levels have thrown off the normal flight patterns of waterfowl activity.
It appears change is on the way as rain is forecast throughout the weekend with a long overdue cold front entering the picture early next week. The approaching cold snap should
stimulate movement as ducks have grown complacent lately during the long stretch of above average temperatures that have hung around since early November.
Since the second segment of Tennessee’s season opened last Saturday, weather has not worked in favor of waterfowlers with record high temps last Monday reaching the 74-degree mark
in some areas. Hot and dry conditions have had an adverse effect on the hunting for a lot of blinds scattered across West Tennessee but there have been some exceptions where ducks have flocked to water
and a few hunters experienced good shooting.
I’ve had some decent mornings where we bagged pintails, widgeons, mallards, greenwing teal, gadwall and even a black duck.
The approaching rain should help inundate some bottoms and fields where many blinds haven’t been hunted due to lack of water. Others have been pumping and managed to create their own
backwater but the ducks have been reluctant to fly normal patterns and some spots with good reputations for attracting ducks have not fared well.
Several Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wildlife management areas in the Kentucky Lake area and elsewhere across the region have been somewhat below normal pool levels during the
drought conditions but will likely see normalcy return with this weekend’s rains.
Hunting should improve early next week as ducks have been sitting around basking in the sun for several weeks now, not having to move around much in search of food. Once lazy ducks sit
around for a spell drastic weather changes make them nervous and stimulate movement so next week’s cold front should put ducks in the air.
Hunters in this area, and elsewhere for that matter, have not seen any new ducks migrate to the region since mid-November. So an influx of new birds is badly needed and should occur next
A recent report from Ducks Unlimited’s migration report shows big numbers of waterfowl still hanging out in South Dakota.
"The most recent survey of waterfowl on the Missouri River had around 750,000 mallards and just over 300,000 Canada geese using those waters in the central part of the state," says Rocco
Murano, chief waterfowl biologist with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. "There are still a large number of both ducks and geese using the pothole country of eastern South Dakota as well."
Right now warm weather remains to our north where ducks are still holding up in the upper portion of the Mississippi flyway. Our neighbors to the north report big numbers of waterfowl still
hanging around up there where no lakes or ponds have frozen up and temps have been above normal throughout November and early December.
Decent numbers of ducks were reported in portions of Missouri and northeastern Arkansas in late November but since the early season opener for those areas the activity has diminished.
Locally, a lot of pintails, greenwing teal, gadwall, widgeon, and mallards have been using the big reservoirs and entering some private clubs that have water. However, I’ve been out almost every
morning and witnessed a lot of big bunches of ducks headed back north.
The movement of big groups of birds headed back north is somewhat of a mystery but lack of water may be contributing to the unusual flight patterns and redistributing them.
The most recent aerial waterfowl surveys report by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service taken back on November 19 showed Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge near Dover holding 13,835 ducks.
Duck numbers there were up 179 percent from the previous survey taken in early November and up 45 percent from last year at this time. The figures were also up 49 percent above the 10-year average
for this time of year at CCNWR.
Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge here on Kentucky Lake, which was surveyed the same day, showed 59,727 ducks and 1,257 geese. The duck numbers were up four percent from the early November survey
and four percent above the 10-year average.
Aerial surveys will be flown in the next week to ten days to update the waterfowl scene.
DUCK SEASON OFF TO GOOD START FOR SOME…OTHERS NEEDING RAIN
By Steve McCadams - November 28, 2012
Our duck season got off to a good start
here on Kentucky Lake last weekend thanks to a variety of
factors. We bagged a variety of species and numbers were above
average. Across the region reports were mixed as some popular
zones didn’t have much water and were also short on ducks.
After a 5-day closure Tennessee’s duck
season resumes on Saturday for a 58-day straight stretch, taking
waterfowlers all the way through January 27, 2013 before the
Duck hunters were hoping for another nice
north wind and cool snap as was the case last week when brisk
weather arrived right on time to kick off opening morning.
However, it appears conditions this weekend will be more akin to
fall fishing weather as mild sunny days are in the forecast with
temps expected to climb into the low to mid 60’s.
Still, several ducks are in the area and
after a few days free from hunting pressure and boat activity
the second opening could be decent for some areas, although many
are still in need of water.
Last weekend’s two-day segment was a good
one for some hunters as big numbers of greenwing teal, gadwall,
widgeon, mallards, pintails, and some diver species such as
ringneck and scaup were taken. Many open water areas fared well
as water was the issue, along with the abundance of aquatic
vegetation that attracted ducks to shallow areas.
Several TWRA wildlife management areas in
the Kentucky Lake area and across West Tennessee were low on
water, a scenario that likely sent ducks winging elsewhere. Some
blinds did fair if they had water; others simply did not have
enough water to hunt or were too shallow to access by normal
West Sandy, Gin Creek, and Big Sandy were
all somewhat below average as to water levels. Hunters in those
areas reported mixed results with a few wood ducks taken in the
early morning hours but overall the harvest results were down as
to big ducks in several public hunting areas.
Camden Bottoms wildlife management area
had decent water levels but hunting success there was down
compared to years passed. Normally a few blinds harvest big
numbers on opening weekend but that was not the case last week.
Same report for Big Sandy and Gin Creek as duck numbers were
down on both units and West Sandy hunters were also in the same
Open water areas along Kentucky and
Barkley reservoirs did well last weekend as normal lake levels,
an abundance of aquatic vegetation, dry conditions elsewhere,
and a perfectly timed cool front coincided to produce good
shooting. This year’s record high fall flight forecast for ducks
may also have sent good numbers to the area early as dry
conditions persist along the Mississippi River drainage area
throughout the 5-state region.
Several different species of ducks were
taken with the most abundant being gadwalls, mallards, pintails,
greenwing teal, widgeons and a few lesser scaup and ringnecks.
(See photo of our 38 duck bag on opening day).
Lack of rain has been a factor in the
overall waterfowl picture and those who have water have done
quite well. Ducks have concentrated in areas where puddle water
exist. For the most part those who have water have ducks.
Some private hunt clubs are attempting to
pump up soybean and corn fields while others are still doing a
rain dance and hoping for runoff. Dry conditions remain across
much of the Mississippi flyway and the soil is really soaking up
light rain and pumping efforts.
No doubt things will change as there are
58-days left in the long season. Rains and cold weather will
come sooner or later and redistribute waterfowl across the five
The most recent aerial waterfowl survey
report by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service taken early last week
prior to the season opener showed Cross Creeks National Wildlife
Refuge near Dover holding 13,835 ducks but only 572 geese.
Duck numbers there were up 179 percent
from the previous survey taken in early November and up 45
percent from last year at this time. The figures were also up 49
percent above the 10-year average for this time of year at
Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge here on
Kentucky Lake, which was surveyed early last week as well,
showed 59,727 ducks and 1,257 geese. The duck numbers were up
four percent from the early November survey and four percent
above the 10-year average.
Numbers have likely changed somewhat since
the surveys but it will take another influx of weather to
stimulate some movement in the migration as waterfowl have grown
complacent across the flyway with the extended spell of mild,
TIME TO RISE AND SHINE...MARSH MADNESS BEGINS
By Steve McCadams - November 21, 2012
Waiting in the wings have been big numbers of waterfowlers since season closed back in late January. The wait is almost over as duck hunters will rise and shine this
weekend when the first of Tennessee’s two segment duck season kicks in Saturday morning one half hour before sunrise.
It’s another big window of opportunity for duck hunters here in Tennessee and across the nation as a 60-day season and six-duck bag limit returns thanks to another good
spring in the prairie pothole region where ducks raise their broods.
In fact, the fall flight forecast will be the highest on record since the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service began gathering data in the early
1950’s. That alone is reason for optimism among the ranks of knee-booters who are already under the spell of “marsh madness”.
After a two-day (November 24-25) weekend opener, waterfowlers in Tennessee will have a five day closure before the season resumes December 1 for a 58-day straight
stretch, ending on January 27, 2013. Season for Canada geese parallels the duck season dates but this year the bag limit has increased to three daily.
Although mild weather has dominated the outdoor scene the last week or two, several ducks are already in the area as recent aerial surveys by U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service biologists indicate good numbers are using the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge here on Kentucky Lake and also Cross Creeks NWR on nearby Barkley Lake.
Dry conditions have concentrated ducks around water and good numbers have been observed on reservoirs and in some of TWRA’s wildlife management areas that have recently
received water from pumping efforts by the agency. A few private hunt clubs have also been pumping grain fields and where there is water there are ducks.
Drought conditions earlier this year across portions of the north and Midwest could work in favor of southern duck hunters as not much corn was planted in areas that
hold on to ducks during winter months, especially with warm and wet conditions linger as they did last year.
So the stage is set for a much better year here in Tennessee. And, low water along the mighty Mississippi River and its tributaries should also help push ducks to
southern states which have water and flooded food.
Waterfowl surveys taken earlier this month on both refuges reported duck numbers were well above average for this time of year. And, since season hasn’t opened it’s
quite likely more ducks are off the refuge than on, thriving in the off-limits wildlife management areas this week and partaking of the abundance of aquatic vegetation up and down the Tennessee River.
The most recent aerial survey was flown on Monday by USFWS biologist Robert Wheat who reported 59, 727 ducks and 1,257 geese observed on TNWR at Kentucky Lake. This
week’s tally was 15 percent above the first survey taken in early November but Wheat indicated a lot of ducks were using areas near, but not necessarily on, the refuge boundaries.
Dominating the specie chart were mallards at 33,971, followed by gadwalls at 9,082 and greenwing teal at 5,273. Ringnecks were estimated at 1,823 with lesser scaup
at 1,423 and widgeons at 1,406.
It should be a pretty good opening weekend for duck hunters who have water. Some areas to the west and many private clubs are still doing a rain dance as most rely
on rainfall and runoff. A few are pumping around the clock in an effort to flood grain fields but extremely dry ground and a low water table are really sucking up the moisture.
There’s a long season ahead and ample time for cold weather and rainfall to enter the picture but a lot of waterfowlers are enthusiastic about opening weekend and
Some areas benefit from flooding conditions along the Mississippi River drainage when it backs out and inundates thousands of acres. Others like it cold and dry, a
scenario that sends ducks to areas with water and food.
Right now the cards favor Dixie duck hunters as season opens. We’ve got a little water in places and a lot of southern hospitality. It’s a recipe that should appeal
this year to hungry, thirsty ducks that stopped short last winter but may well venture further south this year to meet their needs.
DUCK NUMBERS HIGH IN EARLY SURVEY…OPENING DAY LOOKS PROMISING
By Steve McCadams - November 15, 2012
The first aerial surveys of the fall were taken last week (Nov 7th) by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Robert Wheat on both Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge and Cross
Creeks National Wildlife Refuge.
A series of cold fronts over the last two weeks have pushed several duck into the area, setting the stage for good start for a season that opens in just over a week. Tennessee’s
statewide season will open for a two-day segment on November 24-25. After a 5-day closure the second segment returns on December 1 and runs 58-day straight, ending January 27, 2013.
Duck numbers in the fall flight forecast this year are the highest on record. The forecasts began in the mid to early 1950’s and each year biologists with the USFWS and Canadian
Wildlife Service fly surveys on breeding grounds to gather an idea on the hatch and survival rates and waterfowlers have a reason for optimism this year.
On the local scene ducks have been filtering in for a few weeks, pushed by a couple of cold fronts and gale north winds that stimulated some early migration to our area. Both
Kentucky Lake and Barkley Lake regions are attracting good numbers of ducks as dry conditions elsewhere have made the big reservoirs and some of their backwater attractive.
A lot of aquatic vegetation has helped attract ducks to the shallow mudflats this year too. There is an abundance of milfoil, duckweed, coontail moss, spiny leaf naiad and some
hydrilla in shallow water areas. The variety of aquatics are appealing to species such as gadwall, widgeon, greenwing teal, shovelers, mallards and more.
Meanwhile, aerial survey numbers indicate duck numbers are up on the refuges compared to last year at this time and also above the five and 10-year averages for this time year.
Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge here on Kentucky Lake was holding 52,072 ducks when the survey was taken back on November 7th. Compared to last year at this time ducks are up a
whopping 216 percent. The present numbers are also 60 percent above the 10-year average and 63 percent above the 15-year average.
A breakdown of species shows mallards already topping the list at 20,485 followed by gadwalls at 14,473. Third on the roster were greenwing teal at 7,742, followed by widgeon at 2,400
and pintails at 1,843.
Numbers of geese were low, however, with only 412 observed in the survey, which is down 54 percent from last year.
The Duck River unit of the TNWR was holding the lion’s share of ducks as a few impoundments there had water and food. Out of the total count some 42,263 ducks were there leaving a
balance of 9,717 on the Big Sandy unit and a mere 92 using the small Busseltown unit.
Over on Barkley Lake at Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge at Dover there were 4,954 ducks observed and 877 geese. Duck numbers there are up 118 percent over last year at this time
and geese are up 127 percent.
In additional to the waterfowl there were 721 white pelicans, 141 loons and 46 eagles using the TNWR.
Wheat indicated another aerial survey will be taken next week so check back for updates in next week’s posting.
DUCK POPULATION AT ALL TIME HIGH…REASON FOR OPTIMISM
By Steve McCadams - July 10, 2012
Be quiet and listen up! Ducks are coming
in a big way. No kidding so be still and watch the sky.
Waterfowlers have a reason to perk up and
pay attention. Good news quacked its way into the web footed
pipeline this week as the annual report from U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service was released
and it’s a doosie!
North America's total spring duck
population is the highest ever recorded, according to the annual
Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey.
Conducted each May by the USFWS and the
CWS, the survey puts the duck population at 48.6 million birds.
That represents a 7 percent increase from 2011's record number
of 45.6 million.
"This is the highest duck count since we
started the survey in 1955," says Dr. Frank Rohwer, Delta
Waterfowl's scientific director. "We had excellent wetland
conditions in 2011, the second-highest pond count ever. So last
year, we made a pile of ducks. This year, we're counting them."
Mallards, blue-winged teal, green-winged
teal, gadwalls, canvasbacks, northern shovelers and scaup are
all up significantly from last year, with both species of teal
and shovelers at all-time highs. Blue-winged teal are estimated
at 9.2 million, green-winged teal number more than 3.4 million
and shovelers now top 5 million.
Mallard breeding numbers sit at 10.6
million, a 15 percent increase over 2011 and 40 percent over the
Gadwall increased 10 percent over last
year, and now total 3.5 million. The population is nearly double
the long-term average for gadwalls. American wigeon are up
slightly to 2.1 million, but are still 17 percent below their
Scaup numbers are up 21 percent to 5.2
million, the seventh-straight year that the bluebill count has
gone up. Scaup are at their highest breeding population since
Redheads declined slightly to just under
1.3 million, but still registered the second-highest population
estimate in the history of the survey. Canvasbacks jumped 10
percent to 760,000, the fourth-highest count on record.
"All in all, this is a great duck count,"
Duck hunters in Dixie---and everywhere for
that matter--- are glad to hear the optimistic report. The
lion’s share of duck hunters sure sent a lot back north last
season as an unusually warm winter didn’t treat us very nice.
Overall numbers of ducks were down below the Mason-Dixon Line
and harvests were off as a lack of cold weather and wind didn’t
push ducks to their normal wintering areas.
Ample water was present in much of the
flyway but ducks hung around up north where puddle water never
froze up and abundant food was present. So, they pretty much
rode out the winter there fat and sassy, leaving a lot of duck
hunters in our region scanning empty skies during most of the
Every year is different and all
waterfowlers depend on weather to stimulate the migration and
move ducks around once they get here. However, knowing a record
number of ducks are in this year’s fall flight sure sounds
Just knowing the ducks are there gives
every duck hunter a reason for optimism this season as the
resource has to be there before weather can push them. So the
big ingredient for a successful recipe this year has already
been added to the soup, namely a record high flight forecast.
Season dates and bag limits will likely be
similar to last year yet official dates won’t be set until
Tennessee’s wildlife commission meets in mid-August. Prior to
that, USFWS will send framework to the Mississippi Flyway states
and from there specific dates and limits will be chosen.
"As good as the population news is this
week, waterfowl and wetland habitats continue to face
significant long-term threats. The Farm Bill and North American
Wetlands Conservation Act are up for renewal by Congress this
year and both are crucial to our ability to conserve this
critical habitat. We are also fighting to increase our
investment in wetlands conservation by raising the price of the
federal duck stamp," said Memphis based Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale
Hall. "Conservation is indeed at a crossroads this year."
Nesting habitat across the Prairie Pothole
Region continues to decline, particularly following the mild,
dry winter. In many places in Canada, the mild conditions
allowed farmers to tile and return shallow wetlands to
production. On the U.S. side of the border, expiring
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts, high commodity
prices and other economic factors are not only pressuring
wetland drainage, but also pushing conversions of grasslands to
YOUTH WATERFOWL WEEKEND ARRIVES…DUCK NUMBERS DECLINE
By Steve McCadams - February 2, 2012
Young waterfowlers have a special weekend
hunt coming up to call their own. It’s the annual Youth
Waterfowl Hunting Season, a special two-day hunt held each year
the week after the regular season closes.
It’s open to youngsters age 6-15 years of
age. And yes, they are required to be accompanied by an adult at
least 21 years of age.
Each year several states offer the special
weekend hunt to youngsters in hopes of introducing kids to the
sport of waterfowling in a different atmosphere from the regular
season hunts where they often compete with adults for shooting
With the youth hunt it’s the kids who
either hit or miss. Odds are they will shoot a few holes in the
air but it’s a nice opportunity to see kids participate with
their young buddies during a hunt specially designed for them.
Hopefully, the adults will steer them in
the right direction as to gun safety and hunting tips while also
providing a nice atmosphere in the blinds where hot biscuits and
sausage help pass the down time if ducks are scarce.
Here’s hoping the kids have a couple of
good mornings and share those sunrises with friends and family
in the great outdoors.
# # #
DUCK NUMBERS DOWN
Recent aerial surveys taken on Kentucky
Lake at the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge and on Barkley
Lake at Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge confirm the
decline in duck numbers the last week or two of season.
Refuge biologist Robert Wheat reported
duck numbers on TNWR on Kentucky Lake were down 35 percent from
last year’s survey at this time and also down 26 percent from
the 5-year average and down 13 percent from the 10-year average.
Is it any wonder that most duck hunters in
this area suffered through a long, dreary season with very few
good days throughout the 60-day season? No doubt the warm winter
has been a factor.
Meanwhile, the survey estimated 138,925
ducks using the three units of the refuge. There were a mere
4,151 geese observed, which showed a whopping decline of 63
percent compared to last year at this time and 56 percent below
the 5-year average for geese here. In the 10-year average the
numbers of geese wintering here were down 45 percent!
Numbers of diver ducks such as canvasback,
ringneck, scaup, bufflehead, and goldeneye were down
dramatically compared to times past, a further indication that
cold weather never pushed these species down south as lakes up
north never froze over during the unusually mild winter.
Over on Cross Creeks National Wildlife
Refuge at Dover the aerial survey showed 48,413 on ducks and
only 2,596 geese. Ducks were actually up 13 percent compared to
last year’s count at this time but down 4 percent on the 5-year
Numbers of geese were down 42 percent
compared to last year at this same time and off a whopping 50
percent compared to the 5-year average.
The aerial surveys were taken back on
January 18th at CCNWR and January 20th at TNWR.
WATERFOWLERS WINDING DOWN FROM WARM AND WET SEASON
By Steve McCadams - January 26, 2012
Duck hunters are tuning up their calls for Sunday’s swan song. Tennessee’s 60-day season draws to a close at sunset for both ducks and geese.
Although it has been a warm and wet winter, it appears a cold front will arrive this weekend and perhaps end the season on a good note. Most hunters deserve a reprieve as it has been a slow and unproductive season for the majority of waterfowlers across West Tennessee and the region in general.
There have been a few good days when rare cold fronts delivered change and ducks responded favorably but the north winds and cool spells have been rare and overdue. To put the season in perspective hunters have won a battle or two but lost the war.
Not everyone has had a tough season as there have been some success stories scattered among the torn and tattered moral of mallard seekers. However, for every blind or hunter that boasted of good hunts there have been ten that reported negative results, empty skies and below average harvests throughout the long, weary season.
Some very popular hunt locations across the Kentucky Lake region and West Tennessee that have a proven track record recorded one of their worst seasons in recent memory. Ducks just didn’t arrive in numbers sufficient to supply southern duck hunters with replacements when needed.
It was supposed to be a good year with a fall flight forecast that projected record high numbers of ducks coming off a wet spring on the breeding grounds where several species were at or above long term averages in their population.
Despite the optimistic forecast weather played the dominant role and a very mild winter across much of the north did not stimulate much of a migration. Ducks remained north of the Mason-Dixon Line in record numbers, partaking of ample food and open water that never froze.
Once hunting seasons in states to our north expired ducks and geese had no hunting pressure so they road it out there, fat and sassy as mild weather lingered for months in one of the warmest seasons on record.
Heavy rains inundated a large portion of a four state region back in early December and some areas never recovered from the scenario that scattered ducks in backwater acreage that was high and dry this time last year. Once those areas got slash water it never iced over so ducks and those hunting in a few select areas experienced favorable conditions while the lion’s share of hunters stared a hole in empty skies.
Locally some blinds in Big Sandy, Camden bottoms, and West Sandy chalked up some good days and actually started the season on a high note only to fall from grace once season matured. Not many blinds in local wildlife management areas held up to their reputation this year.
Most private hunt clubs in and around the Kentucky and Barkley Lakes area suffered too. Even flooded corn fields and water controlled dikes that offered excellent feeding and resting areas just didn’t appeal.
Elsewhere across the region the popular Mississippi River drainage areas such as the Obion, Forked Deer, and Hatchie River backwaters never attracted ducks in sufficient numbers. Beautifully flooded corn fields were no match for the abundance of backwater and shallow rice fields in the Bootheel of Missouri and eastern Arkansas or the high waters of the Mississippi and Ohio River once they back out.
Even those areas were inconsistent for most of the season despite a few surges in activity at times. Bottom line is that duck weren’t here in very high numbers and those that did visit didn’t have to move around much. Extended spells of bluebird days where stagnant winds hung around were appreciated by winter fishermen but despised by dreary duck hunters.
As the season winds down for us old folks the youngsters get another crack at it when a special youth waterfowl weekend arrives February 4-5. Kids ages 6-15 years of age have a waterfowl weekend to call their own if accompanied by an adult who cannot hunt ducks but can participate in other open seasons for geese such as snow and white-fronted species.
TOUGH SEASON WINDING DOWN FOR DREARY DUCK HUNTERS
By Steve McCadams - January 19, 2012
In real estate there are three key words
for success: location, location, location. For waterfowlers
there are also three key words for successful seasons: weather,
Duck hunters across the region had a very
short honeymoon the last week or two with rare visits from cold
fronts. Last week saw a major migration take place one day when
a dramatic weather change brought falling temperatures and gale
winds to the area but within 24 hours a south wind took over and
temps bounced back above the norm for this time of year.
week was almost a carbon copy as a minor cool snap passed
through at midweek but it only lasted one day before moderate
weather chased it away. Forecasts for the weekend indicate temps
will climb into the upper 50’s and low 60’s, a weather pattern
that has pretty much dominated the duck season here in Tennessee
and elsewhere across the southern region.
While a few hunters
enjoyed significant improvement last week for a day or two,
action quickly slowed as bluebird days filled with high skies
and no wind seemed to curtail the short surge of activity. Ducks
have been sluggish to move around much, a scenario that had been
common throughout this year’s mild and wet winter.
No doubt the
warm weather in states to our north has been a big factor. Lakes
that normally ice up this time of year have remained open and
big numbers of ducks have stayed north of their normal wintering
grounds where ample food and open water have met their needs.
The National Weather Service recently reported a January day
when some 163 cities across the nation set record highs and some
65 others tied a record.
It has been an unusual winter and added
to the above average temperatures over an extended time has been
wet weather that further scattered ducks.
Although local hunters
had a brush with cold weather on a few rare days it hasn’t
enough to erase some two months of mild weather. Overall it has
been tough season for most hunters south of the Mason-Dixon Line
yet there are always a few success stories and isolated spots
that have fared well.
Generally speaking, this year’s duck
season has been disappointing for many hunters, and mild weather
is a likely culprit. Many weather stations in the Dakotas and
other parts of the northern plains were recording record high
temperatures earlier this month. In fact, the mercury soared to
73 degrees at Rapid City, S.D., on Jan. 5, which was 4 degrees
warmer than the high temperature in Miami that day.
neighboring Arkansas, high temperatures reached 60 degrees
somewhere in the state on more than a third of the days between
Dec. 1 and Jan. 15, according to a recent waterfowl report from
Arkansas Game and Fish. And the cold air that has made its way
into the state hasn’t stayed for long.
The Missouri Department
of Conservation reported more than 650,000 ducks in the Show Me
State as of Jan. 13, a record number for this time of year.
Missouri’s five-year average for the first week of January is
about 242,000 ducks.
Here in the Kentucky Lake area duck numbers
have been below average all year on all the aerial surveys taken
at Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge. The same goes for Cross
Creeks National Wildlife Refuge on Barkley Lake at Dover.
on January 3 an aerial survey on TNWR showed 147,110 ducks on
all three units, which was down 30 percent from last year at
this time. A comparison to the 5-year average showed the count
to be 23 percent below normal and 14 percent below the 10-year
Nearby CCNR had 32,502 ducks on a survey flown a day
later, which at the time was 28 percent below the 5-year average
for this time of year and 13 percent below the 10-year average.
An updated aerial survey will likely be taken in the days ahead
but the surveys throughout the season have reflected what duck
hunters already knew and that was low numbers of ducks in the
skies day in and day out.
Local hunters may take some
gratification in knowing that neighboring state duck hunters
have pretty much been in the same boat.
The window of
opportunity is narrowing as season ends in Tennessee on Sunday,
January 29th. Hunters are about to hit the home stretch in a
season filled with long and winding roads.
After an excellent
fall flight forecast waterfowlers were braced for a good season
with high expectations thanks to record high numbers of ducks
raised on the breeding grounds this spring. However, the dismal
picture once again shows just how important weather is in
Weather is the most active ingredient in the
recipe for successful ducks seasons. Local hunters are hoping to
end on a good note but someone better send the weatherman some
flowers. Thus far he’s been at odds with duck hunters.
DUCK NUMBERS DOWN…COLD FRONT COMING COULD BOOST HUNTING
By Steve McCadams - December 29, 2011
Will a cold front projected to arrive as the new
year enters the picture salvage what has been a poor season for
Tennessee duck hunters? Ducksters sure hope so as the drastic
weather change is a good way to start off the second half of
season and perhaps lift the spirits of weary waterfowlers.
Since the second segment of season opened in
early December duck hunters have been at odds with the
weatherman. There has not been much duck weather to work with
and as a result, hunting has been below average over a large
Temperatures throughout the month have been
above average and the warm and wet trend has extended to
northern states, a scenario that has kept a lot of ducks north
of the Mason-Dixon Line this season. Most lakes to our north
have not frozen over and a mild winter has lingered there as
Many feeding and resting areas that are normally
frozen over this time of year have remained accessible to ducks
that have parked north of their normal wintering grounds during
the lion’s share of December. It appears the first significant
cold front in well over a month will arrive Sunday night and
that should stimulate a migration by lazy ducks that have grown
complacent in northern states.
Temperatures were expected to be in the lower
60’s as New Year’s Day arrives but plummet that night and fall
some 25 degrees courtesy of north winds. This will be an overdue
cold snap as highs early next week will struggle to reach the
upper 30’s as the National Weather Service is predicting an “Artic
Blast” for this area.
Meanwhile, to put the season in perspective thus
far there has not been a single day when ice was a factor for
duck hunters or their decoys. There has yet to be a single
morning when an ice cycle formed on the bill of a decoy.
Added to the mild month has been excess rain
that inundated low lying areas over a five state region and
pretty much all tributaries to the Mighty Mississippi River were
flooded out for a spell. Slash water has lingered in many
bottoms, which scattered ducks over a wide area.
So, things may be on the threshold of changing
for the better as duck hunters enter the second half of the
Recent waterfowl surveys taken on the Tennessee
National Wildlife Refuge further confirm the duck dilemma.
Aerial estimates taken last week (December 22nd) showed 131,896
ducks and 3,128 geese using the Kentucky Lake refuge units.
The duck numbers are down 22 percent compared to
last year at this same time and 22 percent below the 5-year
average. Ducks were down 11 percent when compared to the 10-year
average according to U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service figures.
A breakdown on species showed mallards topping
the list at 81,997, followed by gadwall at 16,904. There were
8,455 greenwing teal, and 8,280 ringnecks observed in the
survey. Another footnote to the aerial survey is the lack of
diver ducks represented. Very few scaup, bufflehead, redheads,
goldeye, and canvasbacks were seen, which clearly shows the
influence thus far of a mild winter here as those species have
yet to arrive.
Locally, the Big Sandy unit had 43,797 ducks out
of the total refuge count.
Odds are ducks and geese will increase in the
area by next week as this will be the first real push of weather
since late November. Hunting should improve and waterfowlers
across a vast area are hoping the second half of season is
better than the first.
Tennessee’s duck season will run through January
DUCKS DODGE HUNTERS DURING AS MILD WEATHER LINGERS
By Steve McCadams - December 22, 2011
Most waterfowlers across West Tennessee
and several other neighboring states are hoping Santa brings a
cold snap and some new ducks. It appears slightly cooler
weather will arrive Christmas Day but no significant cold fronts
are in the forecast.
Since the second segment of duck season
opened back in early December mild temperatures and very wet
conditions have dominated the duck hunting scene. After more
than a week of flooding that backed out water over a five state
region water began receding late last week but above average
temperatures have lingered.
A day with north winds and falling
temperatures is what waterfowlers would like to see under their
tree or stuffed in their stockings. It has been an unusual
season thus far with only two or three days when a north wind
was present. Most days have had either rainy mornings, calm
winds or some fog.
Bottom line is there just hasn’t been much
duck weather and overall hunter success has suffered because of
it. Reports from across a vast area indicate duck hunters are
dreary due to a lack of success. Skies have not been filled with
ducks but given the conditions since the second season opened
the diminished success rate comes as no surprise.
Spot checks from Springville bottom echo
what other wildlife management areas are doing. From Camden
bottoms to Big Sandy, Gin Creek and over on Lake Barkley at
Dover bottoms comes word of low duck numbers and inferior
harvest numbers when compared to last year at this time.
Further west the reports mirror tough
conditions as many private flooded grain fields across the Ob
ion, Forked Deer, and Hatchie River drainage are facing empty
skies at times or low numbers of ducks that are still
beneficiaries of abundant food and water. When mild conditions
hang around the ducks just don’t have to move around much to
meet their needs.
Open water on Kentucky Lake has not
produced consistent hunting and neither has the Reelfoot Lake
area of northwest Tennessee.
While overall conditions have not been
favorable not all news is bad as some blinds have scored double
digit harvests on days when some wind and partly cloudy skies
were present. But it has been inconsistent and pretty much a
“hit and miss” game as some days the fog and stagnant winds have
not stimulated movement from lazy ducks that have been basking
in the mild weather.
Although it doesn’t always have to be a
blustery day with bone chilling temperatures to make for good
hunting, a change of weather is needed from time to time to both
bring new ducks to the area and stir up those that are already
For the last week daytime highs have hung
around the 59 to 63 degree range and the nights have been above
average as well. Mix above average temperatures for an extended
spell with lots of water across a big area and the hunting
swings toward below average.
Things will change as soon as an Alberta
clipper enters the picture and brings a change to the region
where ducks have grown complacent the last week or two. Hunters
know things will improve quickly once a cold front comes but a
weather change is long overdue. Last year at this time we were
shoveling snow and shooting ducks.
Aerial surveys taken recently at nearby
Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge on Lake Barkley near Dover
reported 21,190 ducks and 2,534 geese on hand. The survey was
flown on Monday.
The numbers are 24 percent below last
year’s survey taken at this time and 11 percent below the 5-year
average. However, ducks there are 12 percent above the 10-year
average according to U. S. Fish and Wildlife data.
Surveys from Tennessee National Wildlife
Refuge were underway on Wednesday but final numbers were not
available as this report was updated.
Even though the majority of ducks hunters
have experienced tough sledding the last week or two season has
yet to reach the half-way mark so there is plenty of good
hunting time ahead. Weather is always the big factor as to
success for Dixie duck hunters.
Despite a good fall flight forecast with
record high numbers of ducks coming off the breeding grounds the
season has yet to deliver. Great expectations have given in to
the reality of a mild late fall that has not stimulated any
significant migration but one that would probably have been much
better had it not been for all the recent flooding that really
Next week’s cooler conditions may help
some but it’s high time a north wind entered the waterfowl scene
and put some ducks in empty skies. If the ducks just knew how
early we rise, how much we spend, and how far we drive they’d be
Rodney Dangerfield would have made a good
duck hunter. Hey, he couldn’t get any respect so he would have
fit right in!
DRENCHED DUCK HUNTERS TRYING TO DRY OUT…ACTION SLOW ACROSS THE REGION BUT IMPROVING
By Steve McCadams - December 15, 2011
Duck hunters across the region were hoping
to dry out some after last week’s flooding from heavy rains that
drenched a big area and sent small creeks and rivers raging.
Most ducks have been very scattered this last week as they had
thousands of acres inundated across a five state region, a
scenario that proved to be tough on hunters who have not fared
well since high waters entered the picture.
This week waters did indeed recede some
but rains have reentered the picture as the weekend approaches,
pouring more water on an already saturated area. Both the
Mississippi and Ohio River drainage areas were out of their
banks last week and when that happens it influences ducks to fly
different routes as they have picking choice of just about
anything they want in any direction.
Even areas that were holding good numbers
of ducks such as state and federal refuges or private hunt clubs
where an abundance of standing, flooded corn offered a buffet
free from hunting pressure have not been able to hold on to the
ducks as they up and left.
Things should show some improvement by
next week barring any flooding as rivers and streams have fallen
back in their banks and some swamps are back down to normal.
Warm weather has also played a factor as several days have seen
temperatures dance around the 61 to 64 degree range so balmy
conditions have not been kind to duck hunters either.
Kentucky and Barkley Lakes were some five
feet above normal last week and are falling fast. Several
refuges and wildlife manage areas were flooded out last week and
some blinds in public hunt areas were not huntable due to high
water while other hunters chose to move up to shallow water in
the upper ends of bottoms and hunt from temporary setups or wade
in shallow timber, tossing out small spreads of decoys.
A spot check from across the region showed
some improvement earlier this week in the open water where we
bagged mallards, gadwalls, and experienced some influx of divers
such as bluebill, goldeneye, and buffleheads.
Further west the Obion, Forked Deer, and
Hatchie bottoms areas were dealing with high water that proved
to be a hit or miss for most duck hunters who saw birds moving
up river bottoms but it was tough to pinpoint their locations.
Several established hunt areas with blinds known for good
reputations as to harvests saw their kill decline dramatically.
When so much water inundates a five-state
region is proves to be a high hurdle for duck hunters and that
was the case last week. With water levels now falling ducks
should resume normal flight patterns in the near future and
action should improve as a cold snap is expected to arrive early
this weekend, bringing with it north winds and falling
Highs on Wednesday and Thursday were in
the 61 to 65 degree range but expected to fall about 20 degrees
as the high on Friday will be only 44. Night time temperatures
will be in the upper 20’s.
No recent aerial waterfowl surveys were
available from nearby refuges but officials are slated fly early
next week so water for updates posted here.
From various local wildlife manage areas
under Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency comes word of medicore
hunting in Camden bottoms and West Sandy where activity had
fallen off the last few days. The same reports were also coming
in from Big Sandy and Gin Creek units, along with Dover Bottoms
on Lake Barkley.
A few select blinds were getting shooting
in the early morning hours but falling off after that. No doubt
ducks had left the areas during the flooding conditions but
hunters should start to see numbers increase soon as winter
weather and normal water levels will work in favor of bringing
birds back to these units.
While it has been a warm and wet second
season thus far, things may be headed in the right direction as
to weather and water. Hunters here haven’t even reached the
halfway point of season yet so there is ample time left to turn
TOO MUCH WATER SCATTERS
DUCKS ACROSS FIVE STATE REGION
By Steve McCadams - December 9, 2011
Lots of water may be good for ducks but it’s bad
for hunters. Flooding conditions this week in the aftermath of
heavy rains that drenched an already saturated area have
inundated thousands of acres in low lying areas across portions
of Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri.
What does that mean for dreary duck hunters?
Right now ducks have a million places to go for feed and resting
areas and normal flight patterns have changed somewhat. The
backwaters are attractive to ducks but they can be in one place
today and gone tomorrow as ample opportunity awaits them in the
form of flooded timber, soybean, rice and corn fields.
Some of the more popular hunt clubs and wildlife
management areas across west Tennessee have seen their
productivity decline this week, a scenario that’s common when
flooding occurs over a vast area. There’s really no need for
ducks to flock to a specific spot right now as they can find
everything they need most anywhere.
Locally, lake levels on Kentucky Lake have
surged this week and jumped about five feet from last week at
this time. Most of the reservoir is well above the summer pool
mark, which covers up shallow sandbars and inundates islands, a
situation which greatly alters the hunting scene.
Hunters were busy this week chasing lost decoys
and runaway blinds in some areas. In West Sandy and other units
throughout the region some blinds were flooded out if they were
built in a stationary style or not high enough.
Reports indicate a few ducks had moved to the
upper end of West Sandy where shallow areas were appealing.
Acorns were abundant in the backwaters and a few hunters were
wading and using temporary setups for hunting in willow breaks
and tall timber.
Further west it appears the Obion, Forked Deer,
and Hatchie are out of their banks and backing up into grain
fields and swamps. Many hunters that have sunken pits have been
flooded out due to the rising waters while other hunters have
used boat blinds and temporary setup to log some good hunts in
areas that are normally dry ground.
A cold front entered the area on Monday and
heavy rains preceded snow flurries at midweek. Temperatures fell
for the last three days and it appears rain is out of the
forecast for the next five days, which may allow some streams
and small tributaries to crest by this weekend.
Although the hunting is not all bad across the
region and may improve as waters crest and recede by next week,
it’s not unusual for hunters to face tough conditions for a few
days when flooding occurs over such a wide region. Ducks simply
have too many places to go right now.
The Mississippi River had begun to flood out
around the region and the Ohio River was out too. From the air
it must look like an ocean to waterfowl which have picking
choice of places that may well be away from hunters and blinds.
Due to inclimate weather no recent aerial
surveys have been taken on national wildlife refuges but updates
are expected later this week or early next week.
The duck picture has been rearranged this week
due to massive flooding but things should improve by next week
once waters recede somewhat and put the ducks back on normal
flight patterns. For some it’s a temporary hurdle and a bump in
the road but most know there is a long season ahead and ample
time to rebound while others might be fortunate to take
advantage of a situation that puts ducks in places they normally
All of us know things can change quickly and
every day is different out there as the ducks make the rules and
change them as they go along.
SEASON OFF TO GOOD
START…COLD FRONT COINCIDES WITH DUCK SEASON OPENER
By Steve McCadams - December 1, 2011
Duck season got off to a good start this past weekend for the
lion’s share of watefowlers in west and middle Tennessee thanks
to a cold front that arrived on Sunday that really stimulated
movement. After a 73 degree day on Saturday that had some
hunters shedding their shirts, temps fell drastically on Sunday
as northwest winds delivered a 24 degree drop mixed with rain
that had ducks restless.
The weather change had excellent
timing and appeared to bring new ducks into the region and also
stirred up the ones that were already here. A lot of rain has
fallen across a four state region and ducks have multiple places
to feed and rest as most low lying bottoms and tributaries to
the Mississippi River/Tennessee River drainage are inundated
Snow flurries arrived on Monday and the damp,
bone chilling winds lingered. Hunters sure hated to waste some
cold, windy days (season closed Sunday and will reopen Saturday)
as ducks continued to move around in response to the flooded
backwaters and changing weather that has rearranged the
landscape for waterfowl and those who hunt them.
Here in the
Kentucky Lake region we had good numbers of ducks and a variety
of species ranging from mallards, pintail, gadwall, widgeon, and greenwing teal to some bluebills and ringneck in the open water
areas. Most of the bottoms had an abundance of wood ducks as
Wildlife management areas across the region such as
West Sandy, Camden bottoms, Big Sandy, Dover bottoms, and west
toward Gooch and Tigrett reported good shooting as ducks had
been using the areas all week where units were off limits to
Backwaters off the Obion, Forked Deer, and
Hatchie River bottoms reported increased activity on Sunday and
will likely pick up ducks this week as the headwaters often lure
ducks to new food sources. Right now, thousands of acres are
flooded ranging from rice fields on the West side of the
Mississippi River to swamps, soybean and corn fields on the east
“It’s shaping up to be a good year”, said Tennessee
Wildlife Resources Agency state waterfowl biologist Tim White.
“The last two years most of the Obion, Hatchie, and Forked Deer
bottoms were dry but all units have good water, along with
beaver ponds, sloughs, and fields that are flooded.”
Hickory and Cheatham wildlife management areas in middle
Tennessee had decent openers with a mixed bag taken. Most
hunters were seeing ducks and I think it was a good start across
Overall the opening day hunt in most public
areas was good and ducks used the upper ends of units where
shallow water proved to be attractive. Most all areas in both
open water and shallow flooded fields or swamps experienced
increased activity on Sunday once the cold front kicked in and
put ducks in the skies for everyone.
quite cool throughout the week and were below average until
Thursday. It appears a warm up will arrive for this weekend’s
second season opener. Rain and snow was still falling Monday and
Tuesday so rivers and backwaters will likely rise for the next
Last year at this time much of West Tennessee
was dry, a scenario that likely sent many ducks further west in
Much of eastern Arkansas, west Tennessee (the Reelfoot zone has been closed since mid-November and will reopen
Dec 3rd with the statewide segment) and Kentucky, along with the
bootheel of Missouri had lots of ducks and lots of water. In
fact, there may be a little too much water right now as ducks
are likely to scatter across a wide region for the next week or
Hunters in the bootheel of Missouri reported good
hunting when season opened there on Thanksgiving Day as the
flooded rice fields were attracting a lot of ducks, although
many hunters were bagging mixed species that lacked mallards.
Many West Tennessee hunters that didn’t see big numbers of ducks
leading into opening day but got a pleasant surprise on Sunday
as skies filled with flocks that apparently migrated into the
area almost overnight. There were a lot of private hunt clubs
holding ducks too and once the shooting started it helped stir
up ducks that had been basking in the warm weather for well over
a week and hadn’t had to move around much.
season resumes on Saturday (Dec 3rd) for a 58-day straight
stretch that will take hunters all the way through January 29,
2012. There is a lot of hunting time left and a spot check
across the region indicates the season got started on the right
foot and for most it was much better than last year’s opening
Duck numbers are reported to be up this year and
the fall flight is 11 percent above last year and the best
forecast since surveys began back in 1955. Still, hunters know
that weather is the big factor in pushing ducks but most duck
hunters have a good taste in their mouth after a nice opening
It’s a long race but there’s nothing like a good
WATERFOWLERS AWAIT STATEWIDE DUCK SEASON OPENER
By Steve McCadams - November 23, 2011
It's Thanksgiving weekend and that means a lot
of hunters will trade their turkey for ducks. Waterfowlers are
anxiously awaiting the arrival of season as a rainy week will
give in to a cold front this weekend and set the stage for duck
The wait is almost over as Tennesee's statewide
season opens Saturday, raising the curtain on a 60-day window of
opportunity split between two segments.
After a two-day weekend season comes a 5-day
closure before season resumes December 3 for a 58-day straight
stretch taking it all the way through January 29, 2012. Thanks
to a very optimistic fall flight forecast duck hunters
throughout the Mississippi flyway will be the beneficiaries of
another long season with a liberal bag limit.
Somewhere in there will be bone chilling winds
and spitting snow when ducks migrate and hunting is great. There
will also be some foggy mornings when stagnant winds and above
average temperatures see ducks sleep in. Empty skies produce
broken hearts at times.
We all know the weather giveth and it taketh
away. About the only control duck hunters have throughout the
season is being there. It's true we have influence over the
blind, camouflage, decoy spread, boat motors, wake-up calls, gun
maintenance, and a choice of outdoor clothing that helps battle
Some think they can outguess the weather too,
choosing to play the forecast and go when north winds approach
and deliver precious cold fronts. Yet trying to outsmart the
ducks and predict their surge of activity has put many gray
hairs on the heads of duck hunters from the breeding grounds to
the wintering areas.
There are days when wind seems to stir up the
ducks and make them restless, a scenario that works in favor of
hunters. Other times it seems the ducks just didn't get the
Flooding can have a lot of influence and too
much water scatters the ducks over a wide area, especially when
the mighty Mississippi River goes on a tear and backs out over
thousands of acres in several states, giving the birds an
abundance of places to feed and rest. When that happens it's
good for ducks but tough on hunters.
In the final analysis, the best time to go is
when you can. Stay home and your buddies will burn their gun
barrels up shooting ducks and you'll never hear the last of it!
Meanwhile, how does the forthcoming season look?
That's a question on the minds of all duck hunters this time of
year and it appears there is reason to think positive.
It's easy to get lost in the figures when you
stress your eyes looking at empty skies but first and foremost
is the numbers game as to ducks heading south from the prairie
pothole regions of Canada and the Dakotas. This fall hunters
will benefit from an 11 percent increase over last year as some
45.6 million ducks will head south.
The fall flight is the largest total estimate
since surveys began in 1955. Mallards are up 9 percent and
pintails were up a whopping 26 percent. Although scaup and
wigeon are below their long-term averages, most of the more
popular species had a great year on the breeding grounds due to
abundant water conditions that teamed up with ample habitat.
Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl both paint a
pretty picture for the season ahead as does the U. S. Fish and
Wildlife Service which allowed another 60-day season and 6-duck
bag limit as the criteria again met the liberal season
Just how the birds are distributed throughout
the region will depend on weather and water conditions, not to
mention accessible food once cold conditions arrive. So, a great
season is not automatic for every duck blind and duck hunter.
Still, it's nice to know the resource is there in sufficient
numbers to provide great hunting should the weatherman
Locally, aerial waterfowl surveys were taken
last week by USFWS on the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge
here at Kentucky Lake and ducks were estimated to number 64,132,
which is down 7 percent from last year at this time but 12
percent above the 10-year average.
Mallards are topping the list at 27,112,
followed by gadwall at 11,962. Greenwing teal are usually here
early and the number 8,240 with pintail at 5,651 and ringnecks
With all the water now inundating river bottoms
between here and the Mississippi River courtesy of a 5-inch rain
last week and another 3-inch rain on saturated ground earlier
this week there has been a lot of runoff. Soybean and corn
fields are flooded over West Tennessee. Rice fields in the
bootheel of Missouri are also covered with water as is eastern
Arkansas and West Kentucky so ducks have a buffet awaiting them
over portions of four states.
Several state wildlife management areas are
holding ducks too and this week has been off limits to boat
traffic, giving ducks access to food and roosting areas free of
"We've got good water in most all the units and
ducks are showing up in good numbers in the upper end of West
Sandy, all across Camden bottoms, Big Sandy and Dover bottoms,"
said TWRA area manager Ronnie Cole. "I'm seeing a wide variety
of species too and some geese are using the open fields. For
some reason there aren't many ducks in Gin Creek but most of the
other WMAs look ducky."
Once season opens and some of the private and
public hunt areas begin shooting, ducks will be up and moving.
Bag limits are similar to last year, allowing
six ducks daily but not more than four mallards and only two of
those can be hens. Rounding out the daily bag can be one black
duck, three woodies, two pintails, one canvasback or two scaup
and two redheads.
There's a long season ahead with plenty of time
to put points on the board. Some hunters think the early opening
days are best while others prefer late season periods when
colder weather and new ducks have entered the area.
It's a guessing game we all play and remember;
the only real control you have during the duck season is being
(Note to Editors: Download the species chart and other photographs from Delta's website: