by Jeff Kurrus
Field reports suggest that waterfowl hunters have had fair to good success this fall across Nebraska, a major thoroughfare for ducks and geese that follow the Central Flyway. While bitter cold weather and snow have recently pushed many waterfowl farther south into Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, good hunting opportunities remain in the Cornhusker State, especially along the Platte River.
"The Platte is the heart of duck hunting in Nebraska," says Nebraska Game and Parks Waterfowl Biologist Dr. Mark Vrtiska. "During this time of year when everything throughout the state is freezing up, this river remains a really good place to shoot mallards, mallards, and more mallards."
Vrtiska adds that the North Platte River, west of the town of North Platte, is also a good spot to hunt Canada geese. While most of the Platte River and surrounding land is privately owned, good public hunting is available on Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on the west end of Lake McConaughy and Muskrat Run WMA on the North Platte River itself. Other productive public hunting spots include Sutherland Reservoir WMA and East Hersey WMA near the South Platte River.
If these public options aren't producing, Avery pro-staffer Doug Steinke recommends hunters start knocking on doors. "Every year I'm surprised at some of the spots people get permission to hunt," he says. "But you're going to have to put in your homework to get access."
On both public and private land, Steinke starts to downsize his decoy spread this time of year. "Up here, we're competing with 2,000- to 3,000-decoy spreads at times. We already can't keep up with some of these mega-spreads. Plus, we're finding that the fewer decoys we use, the less the birds are able to find wrong with our spread." So Steinke and his group try to use significantly fewer decoys than other hunters to give their spread a different look.
For more information on public waterfowl hunting areas near the Platte River, visit OutdoorNebraska.org.
DU Migration Map Report
G. Mccubbins reported peak numbers of puddle ducks
Temp: 10-20 degrees
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Wind: 10-15 mph
Comments: Several thousand mallards holding up in local sand pit lakes and flying Platte river to local corn fields. There are approx 500 geese still sitting in the area also. Weather this week has not moved them with all the open water still available.
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