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Mississippi
Flyway

Full-time freelance writer M.D. Johnson has been hunting waterfowl since 1974 throughout the United States and Canada. He spends most of time hunting the Midwest and the productive waters of the Ol' Man, where he's often joined by his photographer/hunter wife, Julia Carol.

Mississippi
Real-Time Updates From The Mississippi
  • February 4, 2013

    Mississippi Flyway Duck Season Wrap-Up

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    By M.D. Johnson

    Waterfowl seasons have come and gone in the Mississippi Flyway. The Spring Conservation Order, aka Spring Snow Goose Season, started on February 1 in parts of the flyway, but it will be another month, at least, before I head down to central Missouri to spend a few days shooting snows with the guys at Habitat Flats (habitatflats.com). This year I’ll take my wife, Julia Carol; she hasn’t seen the Spring spectacle, and really needs to experience it at least once.

    But first, let’s review: I never set a duck decoy in my home state of Iowa this season, a first for me. I killed eight Canadas by pass-shooting, including a banded bird, so I put enough geese in the freezer for a good mess of jerky. As far as ducks go, some Mississippit Flyway hunters did well, particularly the guys gunning the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Most of the rest didn’t fare so hot. Geese, on the other hand, were as thick as crows on a gutpile this season; everyone I spoke with this fall all throughout the Upper Midwest did very well, if not exceptionally well on Canadas. Travis Mueller and Matt Pence, both with the Avery Team here in Iowa, reported excellent hunts during December and into early January. Mark Brendemuehl out of Minnesota, also with Avery, wrote of good goose hunting and some pretty decent early duck outings, despite extremely low water conditions that made getting to and from select locations quite the challenge. [ Read Full Post ]

  • January 25, 2013

    Last Licks at Late Geese and Southern Ducks

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    By M.D. Johnson

    As I write this from my office rocker, it’s somewhere in the high single digits here in eastern Iowa. Temperatures like this, especially when combined with no snow, make the diehard ice anglers all giggly, but for me they only give a clearer understanding of why smart, older folks leave the Upper Midwest in November and don’t come back until it’s time to pick morel mushrooms. [ Read Full Post ]

  • January 23, 2013

    Coming Cold Snap Should Help with Canadas

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    By M.D. Johnson

    January 11th marked the closing of Iowa’s South Goose Zone, and it went out with a bang. Actually, several bangs. But only one thud.

    Julia Carol and I met friend and F&S Shotguns editor Phil Bourjaily at his home where, after changing into goose togs suitable for 52 degrees, mud, and remnants of snow, we were guided to a hilltop just five minutes from the driveway. With geese already overhead, we set about 100 mixed full-body decoys a short distance downwind of three well-camouflaged, if I do say so myself, layout blinds. [ Read Full Post ]

  • January 23, 2013

    Arkansas Duck Hunters To Finish With a Bang

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    By Wade Bourne

    Two to three inches of rain fell over eastern Arkansas Jan. 12, causing slash water to collect in previously dry fields and pushing the Cache and White Rivers into adjoining sloughs, oxbows and green timber flats. The ducks have responded by shifting from managed water areas into these freshly-flooded places where new food sources are available.

    Jim Daniel of Bald Knob reports, "It's been a good year for many hunters in east-central Arkansas. Local refuges have been holding close to 400,000 birds – mallards, pintails, gadwalls, widgeons, teal. Before the rain Saturday the best shooting was on managed fields and timber where water could be pumped and controlled. 
   [ Read Full Post ]

  • January 11, 2013

    Lots of Birds for Most Late Goose Openers

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    By M.D. Johnson

    This week, let’s begin in my home state of Ohio. Cousin Jimmy Johnson has just finished up his duck season, and—surprising to me based on what he and others in The Buckeye State have reported since October—he sums up the season with, “Not a bad year! The ducks just came at the wrong times. The majority of the birds I saw came either when the lake was iced over, except for a 100-yard-wide strip down the center, or when the river was flooded after all the rain we had in December, making the hunting really tough. But we had plenty of mallards, blacks, and gadwalls, and all sorts of divers.”

    On a more positive note, he continues: “Goose season comes back in on January 12 and runs through the 27th, and the birds have finally showed up in numbers. I have close to 500 coming over the house on a daily basis. The birds will decoy great to smaller spreads with some full-body mallards thrown on the edges for more realism.” [ Read Full Post ]

  • January 10, 2013

    Western Kentucky Action Slow But Steady

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    By Wade Bourne

    Low water. Ice. Nocturnal feeding. Stale Birds. All these are reasons why duck hunting in western Kentucky's famed Ballard County and Henderson waterfowl areas has been disappointing in recent days. Both areas picked up new ducks with back-to-back cold fronts between Christmas and New Year. However, these birds have settled into "hunter avoidance mode," and hunting success has suffered in the first week of 2013.
    
 [ Read Full Post ]

  • January 7, 2013

    In Spots, Still Some Very Good Hunting

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    By M.D. Johnson

    North of Missouri, duck seasons are but a memory – and, for many, not a real good memory. So bad, in fact, a buddy from here in Iowa recently posted a thread on a ‘fowling forum titled “Good Riddance to 2012.”

    Cruising the Internet reveals gunners for the most part are having a tough time of it in places like Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi (but there are some happy exceptions). A lack of water seems to be a common denominator throughout much of Arkansas and Mississippi, though the lack of new ducks, aka The Stale Bird Syndrome, appears a frequent complaint, too. Conversely, though, I get the impression that some closed-mouthed hunters in some spots are getting some birds. [ Read Full Post ]

  • January 7, 2013

    Missouri Waterfowlers Hope for Warmer Weather and New Birds

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    By Jeff Kurrus

    With Missouri’s north and middle zones now closed to duck hunting, most of the state’s waterfowlers are now hunting geese – if they can find them. At Grand Pass Conservation Area east of Kansas City, the most recent count estimated 100,000 mallards, a good sign for hunters in the southern part of the state still hoping for new ducks to arrive. Goose numbers, however, totaled a paltry 75 birds.

    To the east, Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge located on the Mississippi River is frozen solid. “We have no ducks or geese on the refuge. There are a few mallards moving up and down the Mississippi River, but not a lot of them,” reports waterfowl biologist Mike Hanan. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 28, 2012

    It’s Goose Time for Many

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    By M.D. Johnson

    John Gordon, a good friend from Memphis and the man responsible for compiling the migration reports for Avery Outdoors each week, included this note with his weekly email sent up here Iowa way: “Here you go, brother. It’s pretty slim pickins’.” And ain’t that the truth.
     
    Here in eastern Iowa, I’ve made the transition almost entirely from waterfowl to whitetails. Our late muzzleloader season runs through 10 January 2013, and three of us are sitting on eight of nine tags remaining. Translation: We have a lot of deer hunting to do if we’re planning on putting anything into the freezer. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 26, 2012

    Louisiana To Get New Ducks for Christmas

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    By Wade Bourne

    As this report is written, a strong storm system is pushing through upper and middle Mississippi Flyway states, bringing heavy snows, gale-force winds, and plummeting temperatures. Up to one foot of snow has fallen on parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, and Michigan, and the storm is now moving eastward into Illinois' duck-rich Illinois River bottoms.

    The result should be a significant migration of mallards to points south, including Louisiana. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 21, 2012

    Blizzard Ushers in Winter—and Geese

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    By M.D. Johnson

    To quote the late Chris Farley as Tommy Callahan in Tommy Boy: Holy schnikes! We have finally gotten some weather. Here in eastern Iowa, and throughout much of the Great Plains and Upper Midwest, the first true blizzard of the year is ushering in Winter. And it’s here with a vengeance, with sustained winds of 25 to 35mph, with gusts up to 55 and above. Add about six inches of snow--two in some places, 12 in others--and it’s building up into quite a mess out there. So bad that fellow Field & Streamer Phi Bourjaily told me, “The only reason to hunt today is if you’re really mad at yourself.” [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 14, 2012

    Finished Up North; Fabulous Down South

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    By M.D. Johnson

    My mother always said to start with the hardest task first because it makes the rest seem easy by comparison. So let’s begin with ducks in the northernmost reaches of the Mississippi Flyway—the hardest thing to have to report. One word: Done.

    Well, done for the most part anyway. My home state of Iowa finished in two stages: the North Zone on Dec. 6, and the South on the 13th. It was a less than stellar year for many, with the phrase, “Worst season ever,” heard on a regular basis. There were some Iowa hunters who did well. Those gunning the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers had good shoots throughout the season for both mallards and divers. Inland, I heard sporadic tales of success. But it’s over now for another year. I, along with others, can relax now and not feel guilty that season’s in and we’re not out. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 11, 2012

    New Ducks Hit Tennessee's Reelfoot Lake

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    By Wade Bourne

    Prospects for duck hunting at Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee are improving, thanks to a new influx of birds and a forecast for a strong cold front pushing through early this week.

    Reelfoot guides Billy Blakely and Ben Parker confirm that a flight of new ducks – mostly mallards – hit the lake on Dec. 5. [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 30, 2012

    Northerners Turn To Geese; Southerners Await Ducks

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    By M.D. Johnson

    Even from a Comfort Inn in northern Utah, which is serving as my base of operations as I hunt the Great Salt Lake and surrounding marshes, I can hear the rather rotund lady either warming up or in full voice in the northern portion of the Mississippi Flyway. For many hunters in the Upper Midwest, it’s time to start putting away the duck gear and begin thinking about geese, or ice fishing.

    Wisconsin and Minnesota’s duck seasons will be over by the first of next week. Iowa will soon follow, with a northern closure of December 6 and a south-zone end on the 13th. Reports from the eastern third of The Hawkeye State continue to be mixed; however, most folks I’ve talked with lately agree that the frigid temperatures of this last week brought in a small number of new mallards and Canadas, while putting birds already in the area on the feed. A gent down Iowa City way (who asked to remain nameless for fear of divulging his exact location) tells of excellent numbers of honkers, with slowly increasing numbers of mallards locally.

    “The weather isn’t quite right for them to be patterned consistently yet,” he said. “And they’re flying late--right at or just after legal shooting time. We need some nasty weather, and then it should be on.” [ Read Full Post ]

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