By Wade Bourne
An abundance of new water in southern Missouri
and ice in the north has shuffled the deck for hunters in this state. Kevin Brunke, wildlife management biologist for the Otter Slough Conservation Area, reports that 4 1/2 inches of rain fell in southeast Missouri Dec. 5, leaving sheet water in fields throughout the region. Brunke says this has scattered ducks from traditional holding areas, as reflected in a waterfowl count he completed on Dec. 5.
Brunke notes, "On our previous count, we were holding around 75,000 ducks on Otter Slough, but yesterday we only counted 19,400. We may have had some ducks leave for Arkansas, but I think this change is more a reflection of the abundance of new water and food and that the ducks are mostly still here, just more dispersed. Also, our hunters yesterday said they saw a lot of high flights of ducks, so we may have had a significant influx of new birds after this last storm system passed."
Hunters on Otter Slough CA are averaging 3.5 ducks per day, an indication of the favorable hunting conditions in southern Missouri.
In northwest Missouri, biologist Darrin Welchert reports that nearly all of the wetlands on Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge are frozen, and ducks are moving out for points south. "This morning [Dec. 6] we have around 53,000 mallards on our refuge, compared to 85,000 last week. Also, while our snow goose numbers are steady from last week [200,000], these birds are showing signs of getting ready for a move down the flyway. They are likely to head out any day."
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