by Jeff Kurrus
Recent cold weather has frozen wetlands across much of Missouri, pushing large numbers of waterfowl farther down the flyway. And some Missouri duck hunters are migrating with the birds. Avery pro-staffer Andrew Juden has recently hunted in both Kansas and Mississippi and enjoyed great success below the freeze line in both states. "Tunica (Mississippi) was amazing," he says. "I haven't seen ducks like that in a long time."
Closer to home, near Jackson, Missouri, the pickings are slim—at least for now. "If we have some warmer weather and our water opens back up, we'll get some birds moving back north from Arkansas."
In the Bootheel, Avery pro-staffer Jeff Beltz is in the same boat. "I've been making calls every day trying to find birds, and everyone keeps telling me the same thing. Go to Mississippi." But Beltz is also hopeful that the hunting in his area will improve following an extended warm-up.
In the meantime, good numbers of mallards remain on rivers throughout the state, and hunters who are willing to scout and find birds can have still have good shooting. Under deep-freeze conditions, Avery pro-staffer Rusty Burnam prefers hunting ducks on frozen and dry fields when temperatures rise in the afternoons. "Every year it's the same routine," he says. "I take off days to hunt in the morning during the earlier part of the season and start taking afternoons later in the year."
Burnam uses a combination of full-body Canada goose and mallard decoys for field hunting. "We use the honkers for visibility. They also stand tall and help hide our blinds. The full-body mallard decoys are 'icing on the cake.'"
DU Migration Map Update
M. Halley reported low numbers/migration starting of geese
Temp: 21 - 30 degrees Weather: Partly Cloudy
Wind Direction: from Northwest
Comments: Few geese still trickling in. Extreme north winds last weekend brought some welcome new birds down. Lasting cold spell still has ponds locked in ice. Geese are feeding twice a day. Heavy concentration about 1 hour after sunrise. Ducks are scarce except for open areas of lakes.
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