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Banding Together for Waterfowl

The Sooner the Better

When the weather turns cold, thousands of waterfowl pour into Oklahoma’s northern tier.
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“We have birds from the beginning of November until the end of the season,” Halverson says. “On the river, you can expect to see a little bit of everything in terms of waterfowl species.”

Mallards are on the menu our second day in the field. This time we are sequestered along a stretch of sparsely vegetated riverbank. Decoys are set in the current and on a sandbar in the middle of the shallow stream.

“We’re going to have a hard time hiding here, too,” says    Greg Ladehoff. “But if the birds fly right down the channel, it’s going to get very interesting.”

Greenheads follow the script to a fault, although not at a breakneck pace. No, this is one-or-two-at-a-time gunning. And it grows slower as the morning wears on and the wind direction varies.

But high overhead, we see flock after flock of ducks and geese heading out to feed in agricultural fields. Corn, beans, milo, and wheat are big in this part of the state. The fall’s corn harvest, in fact, shattered records.

“January might be the best time to hunt here,” Halverson says. “While we always have some birds, sometimes we don’t get a really big push before then. The birds we saw today literally arrived overnight. Those were all new birds.”

This day’s outing ends up totally green: all mallard drakes. They are dressed to the max, colored up in their finest and most vivid hues. These are trophy ducks, anytime, anywhere.

“It used to be, when you talked about duck hunting in Oklahoma, some people might laugh, or think you were a little weird,” Halverson says. “It’s not like that anymore.”

Better than just OK, to be sure.

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