Plenty of Birds Around for Later Openers

Late last week, the forum boards were aflutter about the the big arctic push coming in from Canada. While most the waterfowlers were positively giddy about the nasty weather kicking off the 2012 migration, there were a good number of Nebraska duck hunters grousing about the late openers the Game and Parks Commission put into place in Zones 1 and 3 this year. "The ducks will pass us by!" they cried. "Our seasons are over before they start!"

Funny thing about the Internet, it causes some people to speak (or type) without thinking. That's the only explanation I can come up with for anyone believing an early Arctic Express would push every duck through the Dakotas, Nebraska and south in to Kansas. And I'm one of those Zone 3 High Plains hunters that has to wait until October 20 to start my Nebraska duck season.

Fact is, that storm, which brought sub-freezing temps and a heavy, wet snow to the north and western parts of the region (as shown in the map above), probably did push a few ducks through, but there are plenty more still to the north, clear into the Prairie Provinces.

Even before the storm, my contacts were reporting new birds showing up. Avery Pro Staffer Vance Stolz says that while most of the birds on Colorado's Front Range are locals, numbers of teal, widgeon and gadwall have been increasing, as have mallards and pintails. Kirk Steffenson, who lives and hunts near Nebraska's Rainwater Basin, checks in with higher numbers of teal as well as some big ducks showing up.

I wil give those glass-half-empty forum posters credit in their thinking that some ducks might move through eastern Nebraska with stopping, but that will be more attributable to the water situation, than anything to do with the cold front. To mitigate the effects of the drought on the coming duck season, the NGPC and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have announced plans to pump water into several wetland and wildlife management areas. My reports say the supplemental pumping hasn't begun at several popular areas, but hunters can find more information about this at the Game & Parks Website here.