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.”
Avery’s Gerry Mazur of Toledo also speaks of geese. “There’s plenty of corn around, and places for birds to loaf. There have been phenomenal numbers of geese around the grain elevators lately. Late goose season begins on January 12, but we’re supposed to have some warm weather, with temperatures in the 50s and a chance of rain, so we’ll see.”
In Midland, Michigan, Avery Team Member Shawn Lewis reports that he “lost some geese with the loss of open water, but overall we have plenty of birds for the late season.” That opportunity also begins on January 12, with a daily limit of five birds. Also in Midland, Avery’s San Sasse speaks of “thousands of Canadas in the surrounding areas, along with goose numbers of mallards and divers.” Floyd Decker from Bloomington, Michigan, also with Avery and also with a January 12 late Canada opener, says that the “spotty open water which is changing daily is proving a challenge in terms of where to set up. There aren’t that many fresh birds, and the locals that have played the game more than once are going to make for tough hunting. That said, any open water has enough ducks and geese on it you can walk across it on their backs.”
Switching gears to ducks, Avery’s Jay Hayter of El Dorado, Arkansas, says that while “recent rains have brought water levels up to near normal in the fields and rivers, there really hasn’t been much of a migration lately. We need a northern push badly before it’s all over. Overall, it’s been poor here and better there. Some hunters are reporting fair hunts, with mallards and grey ducks in fair numbers.” Avery member, John Gordon says thing have improved lately. “Lakes are still low, but there’s plenty of water in the fields.” Gordon says that the mallards, sprig, green-wing, widgeon, and spoonbills are around, but are becoming harder and harder to fool. “It’s hit or miss. The right areas are really stacking ’em up, but overall the area is only fair as the populations aren’t all that high.”
From Des Allemands, Louisiana, Avery member Shannon Housend says that despite “fields with water and plenty of waste grain, there’s really not much of anything going on. Ringnecks and grey ducks, if you’re lucky. Two more weeks,” says Housend, “and we’re done.” Spring snows and gobblers aren’t that far away, Shannon. Have faith.
Here in Iowa, my plan is to finish out our South Zone goose hunt with my wife, Julia Carol, and good friend, Phil Bourjaily, on Friday (January 11th) before making the switch to muzzleloader squirrels, spring snows, and then Hawkeye State gobblers.