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.
In southwestern Missouri, DU’s Mark Jackson is seeing lots of Canada geese near his home located 40 miles north of Stockton Lake, but finding concentrations of birds to hunt is a challenge. “Most corn fields have been plowed under in this area,” he says, “but there is still some wheat around, and where there’s wheat, there are geese.”
In the southeastern part of the state, Christian Curtis is also fighting ice after a week of bitter cold temperatures. “We still have a chance if we get some rain soon,” he said. “Our hunting conditions are poor right now, but that could all change with a few inches of rain to thaw frozen waters.”
In Mississippi County, Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area is reportedly still holding 38,000 ducks and 120,000 geese. On a recent morning, 18 parties drew for 15 spots and 122 ducks were bagged by 46 hunters.
Gumbo Calls owner and Missouri native Hunter Johnson offers the following tips for late-season waterfowlers. “If you’re hunting birds that have been in the area for a long time and refuse to decoy, try something different. Get away from your blind and tone down your calling. If the weather warms up and wetlands thaw out, setting your decoys in scattered pairs will give your spread a natural look for this time of year,” he says.
Jeff Kurrus is a writer/photographer currently working for Nebraskaland Magazine. Find migration and hunting reports in your area on the DU Migration Map.