By Chris Jennings
Located in the heart of Prairie Canada, Saskatchewan is perhaps North American’s most important waterfowl breeding area. While waterfowl habitat conditions were highly variable across the province this spring and summer, good bird numbers and sufficient water should provide plenty of hunting opportunities for waterfowlers in the province this fall.
“The dry conditions in the southern portion of the province shouldn’t impact hunting that much,” explains Kelly Rempel, Ducks Unlimited Canada’s head of habitat assessment and management in Saskatchewan. “The larger wetlands have enough water to attract staging birds. I would expect conditions to be fairly normal this fall.”
There may be some cause for concern for hunters looking to target smaller wetlands, as many potholes have dried up over the summer. However, there should be no shortage of geese in the province again this fall.
“The Arctic goose migration is just getting started,” Rempel says. “We are seeing a lot of sandhill cranes, which always arrive ahead of the geese. Crane numbers are really starting to build up.”
For those who plan to hunt waterfowl on dry fields, Rempel says the harvest is ahead of schedule in southern Saskatchewan, but that’s not the case in other areas of the province.
Cooper Olmstead, co-owner of Habitat Flats Central Prairie Lodges in eastern Saskatchewan, reports that the harvest in his area is a little behind due to recent rainfall, and he doesn’t expect much progress over the next week. This will concentrate some of the birds and make field hunting more difficult in his area. He also believes that the migration is a little ahead of schedule.
“We got up here at the end of August, and there were blue-winged teal on every little wetland,” Olmstead says. “Today, we aren’t seeing any bluewings at all. That’s a good sign that the birds have moved south. That’s to be expected because we’ve had some fairly cold mornings already.”
With the migration ramping up and good habitat conditions for staging waterfowl, hunters should expect to find an abundance of ducks and geese in Saskatchewan this fall. However, Rempel is already keeping an eye on habitat conditions for next spring.
“Our soil moisture levels are really low,” Rempel says. “We need to get as much precipitation as possible this winter.”
Subscribe the receive Migration Alert emails for the rest of the season. Subscribe now!