By Jeff Kurrus
In Nebraska, the line of "wait until next week" for waterfowlers is becoming an often-made statement. Warm temperatures and decent water conditions to the north of the state have kept the majority of waterfowl away thus far. "The bulk of mallards and Canada geese have still not arrived," said Nebraska Game and Parks Commission waterfowl biologist Mark Vrtiska. "And I have not heard of anyone seeing a flock of snow geese yet."
There have been some advances to the migration, however. The cold front right before Nebraska's October 27 pheasant season opener started to push some ducks and geese into the state. "I know guys that started shooting redheads with that front," added Vrtiska, "and before they hadn't seen a single one. Plus, more white-fronts are showing up and being reported.
"Obviously at some point temperatures will drop to push birds, but it may be later than normal."
After looking at the upcoming weekend's forecast for the Dakotas, maybe the "later" Vrtiska is talking about can come a bit sooner than expected. Plus, this front will only last for a few days before it warms up again. Long enough to bring birds down, and short enough to keep them around for a little while.
For hunters before or after the front, water remains key. "If there is water in the path of a duck going south," said longtime Nebraska waterfowl hunter Doug Steinke, "then ducks are stopping. For example, our hunting group near Grand Island began pumping water into a small 5-acre wetland we hunt, and within 4 days we had 2,000 ducks on it.
"Another person close to us, with only a ½ acre wetland, starting pumping and had 300 ducks in less than three days," added Steinke. "So if you can find water, or create water, you'll kill birds."
Jeff Kurrus is a writer/photographer currently working for Nebraskaland Magazine.
Find hunting and habitat reports in your area on the Ducks Unlimited Migration Map.