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A Freelancer's Guide to the Prairie Pothole Region

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Early Opportunities Abound

September 1 marks the beginning of the waterfowl season across much of the PPR.

Veteran waterfowl guide Ben Fujan says staying flexible is always important for freelance hunters on the prairies, but especially early in the season. "If you limit yourself to certain species in specific habitats, you're likely to miss out on a lot of what makes early-season hunting on the prairies so much fun," Fujan says. "You can still have priorities, like hunting mallards over water or honkers in the fields, but weather and habitat conditions can determine what's available at a particular time and place. Also, those mallards might be leaving their roost too early or too late to make a field hunt work, but that little slough chock-full of ducks of every kind could make for a lights-out hunt."

While early-season ducks are often easier to hunt than late-season birds, hunters face their own challenges at this time of year. "In September and even early October, many ducks still have their drab plumage, which makes distinguishing drakes from hens difficult," Fujan says. "And calling can be less effective early in the season, too, which means scouting and being exactly where the birds want to be is paramount."

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