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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Migration Update: Dec. 25, 2010 - Kansas

Hardy mallards hold out in Kansas
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  • photo by Jon Huelskamp
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by Jeff Kurrus

Despite bitter cold temperatures, Tom Bidrowski, a migratory game bird biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, reports that his state is still holding plenty of mallards. "If you're a river or big reservoir hunter, this is the time to be in Kansas," he says. "Glen Elder, Tuttle Creek, Cedar Bluff—our larger irrigation reservoirs—those are the spots to be. Plus, the Arkansas River and Missouri River in the southeast part of the state are great this time of year."

Avery pro-staffer Lance Ohnmacht concurs. "A lot of mallards are clumped together right now," he says. "When you find them, there are a bunch of them. But you have to be prepared to spend some time scouting. When you do find them, it sure is worth it."

Farther south in Oklahoma, waterfowlers are still waiting for more mallards to arrive from the north. "We need Kansas and Nebraska to get some snow and ice cover," said Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation waterfowl biologist Josh Richardson. "It's not just cold weather that pushes migrating birds, it's when food sources are covered up and birds are forced to leave."

Oklahoma has received frequent influxes of waterfowl throughout the fall, but very dry conditions have kept waterfowl numbers from building in many areas. "I'd rate this season as average to slightly above average," says Avery pro-staffer David Williams. "A good thing about this season is that we've had a lot of northerly winds in late November and December, which have pushed down a few new birds every couple days. Our shooting has been pretty consistent since the latter half of November."

Williams, who is based near Oklahoma City, has been hunting over water instead of fields this season. "Being so dry, farmers have worked many of the fields, making field hunting nearly impossible. A few geese are being killed in the fields, but we're spending a lot more time hunting on or near water...and waiting for Kansas to freeze solid."

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