By John Pollmann, WF360 Central Flyway Migration Editor
A timely migration of ducks and geese into Colorado has set the stage for a strong start to the waterfowl season across the state, and with favorable weather conditions forecast in the near-term, hunters are eager to get to the fields.
Loveland hunter and Avery/Banded Pro-Staffer Vance Stolz says that the front-range region of Colorado had decent numbers of locally raised Canada geese during a special early season, but a cold front last week ushered in even more geese and ducks.
“There was a solid push of geese for just about the entire week, and we definitely picked up more mallards, too,” Stolz says. “I’m sure that the cold front that brought birds in may have pushed some south, but there are good numbers around here right now.”
The timing of the migration couldn’t have happened at a much better time, Stolz says, as waterfowl season opened in parts of Colorado last weekend. Tomorrow marks the opening for the remainder of the state.
Having new birds in the area is a blessing, Stolz says, but scouting in the coming days will be a priority as both ducks and geese are somewhat scattered across the region.
“Outside of a few storms, our weather has been pretty mild, so there is a lot of open water, and there is a lot of food, as farmers have been able to get in and harvest. I’m sure this is contributing to why we’re not seeing big concentrations of birds at the moment,” Stolz says. “But we’re supposed to see a few more small disruptions in the weather coming up, which should cool things off a bit, and when those birds get cold, they have to get out and feed. Overall, the outlook in this area is pretty good.”
Bill Schaefer, with High Desert Waterfowl near Grand Junction, shares Stolz’s optimism for the season.
“We’ve definitely seen signs of a migration around here, with the first real significant bunches of birds arriving that first week in November, similar to the rest of the state,” Schaefer says. “We’ve got good water, there’s plenty of corn and alfalfa around, and we’ve got some birds. The hunting should just get better from here on out.”
The Thanksgiving holiday typically marks the start of the best hunting along this stretch of the Colorado River, Schaefer says, with both ducks and geese typically arriving in the region through January.
“The river should hold birds through the season, as long as it doesn’t get bitterly cold for an extended stretch,” Schaefer says. “Based on what I see today, the conditions are right. It should be a solid year.”
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John Pollmann is a freelance writer from Dell Rapids, South Dakota, who is an avid waterfowler and conservationist. Pollmann will provide hunting and habitat reports for the Central and Mississippi Flyways throughout the 2018-2019 waterfowl season.