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Cold, Hard Facts

Five ways to bag birds when the mercury dips
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  • photo by Avery Outdoors
  • photo by Avery Outdoors
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By John Pollman

The month of December can offer spectacular waterfowling. The weather conditions, sometimes extreme, play a much greater role in waterfowl activity this time of year, and hunters who understand these behavioral impacts have greater chances for success. 

Here are five facts on late-season waterfowl that can help keep the hunting hot when the weather gets cold.


Watch the Weather

Large-bodied waterfowl like mallards and Canada geese are built to withstand colder temperatures and snow, allowing them to stay north longer than smaller ducks and geese.

But eventually, says DU Chief Scientist Dale Humburg, even the hardiest of waterfowl are going to respond to the lack of available food and water. Humburg says a hunter's best bet is to just keep track of weather conditions.

"There's no substitute for a little homework and scouting, and in this day and age with Internet weather reports, there's no reason to be caught by surprise by changing weather," Humburg says.

He explains that hunters should be watching for sharp dips in temperature, periods of high wind and patterns of high and low pressure in portions of the flyway that feed birds into your hunting area.

Once they've arrived, Humburg says that migrating waterfowl will immediately seek out food sources to replenish fat supplies burnt up while moving south, meaning that feeding areas should become a prime focus for hunters.

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