By Jay Anglin, WF360 Great Lakes Region Migration Editor
Indiana waterfowlers are fired up as an arctic blast is poised to sweep down from Canada. Temperatures are predicted to drop well below freezing throughout the region, with some snow also in the forecast.
Over the past two weeks, waterfowlers throughout the Heartland have been contending with unseasonably mild weather and stale birds. To make matters worse, a full moon has allowed waterfowl to feed at night, and the birds haven’t been moving much during legal shooting hours. But all that is about to change.
Some hunters took advantage of timely rainfall earlier this season, which provided good habitat for local and early-arriving dabbling ducks. “Puddler hunting has been good in north-central Indiana on remaining flooded spots from heavy rains that hit the area in late October and early November,” says Indiana DU volunteer Ryan Christner.
On Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area (FWA), the total waterfowl harvest has reached over 2,500 birds for the season. Hunting success on the area will likely improve as cold weather forces birds from the refuge to seek high-calorie food sources.
“We have been stuck with the same birds for two weeks, and they’ve been feeding strictly at night. Now ducks are starting to feed ahead of the cold weather working its way into the area. This coming weekend will be great if you can find open water or find them dry feeding,” explains DU volunteer Jeff Dunifon, who regularly hunts near Kankakee FWA.
Jason Kyle, a DU member in west-central Indiana, adds, “With the big cold front moving through this week, hunters are hopeful for new birds. We are still waiting on the first push of migratory Canada geese, but we already have some specks and snows.”
In southwest Indiana, waterfowl are attracted to high-quality marsh habitat along various river systems, including an impressive number of Ducks Unlimited projects. This part of the state boasts plentiful public hunting areas, including the well-known Goose Pond FWA.
“We did really well when the season opened in late November. The hunting has slowed down a bit, but we should see some new birds with colder weather on the way,” reports Travis Stoelting, property manager at Goose Pond FWA. “I believe the hunting should improve as long as we don’t freeze. With temps dipping into the 20s at night and highs in the 30s, there will definitely be some skim ice, and we may end up with a little bit of ice and a little bit of water, which can be really good for hunting here.”
With winter weather finally moving into the state, Hoosier waterfowlers are looking forward to hunting their favorite late-season hot spots. While hunters in northern Indiana are ready to catch the final waves of hardy migrants from Wisconsin and Michigan, southern Indiana hunters are hoping the birds stack up and stick around into January.
Find or submit reports to the DU Migration Map.
Jay Anglin is an avid hunter, fisherman, and guide from LaPorte, Indiana. A veteran writer, Anglin, holds a biology degree from Northern Michigan University. He will be providing migration updates from the Great Lakes Region throughout the 2017-2018 waterfowl season.