Michael Furtman_.jpg

Michael Furtman


New York State waterfowlers may not pay much attention to the central part of the continent, but if fresh birds and hot barrels sound appealing, they should take note of the very active weather pattern currently impacting the Canadian prairies and northern plains states.

Besides accumulating snow, plummeting temperatures will also freeze all but the largest water bodies throughout the “Duck Factory” and Boreal areas to the north. Expect good migration activity into and throughout the Great Lakes region, which will likely include a respectable contingent of waterfowl headed down the Atlantic Flyway across New York State.

This weekend, conditions should improve tremendously from a waterfowl hunting perspective, with multiple nights below freezing and daytime temperatures that will have hunters digging for their winter gear.

“In my area, we had pintails and teal in good numbers last weekend. I’ve actually been seeing good numbers of mallards as well, which is exciting with the increased bag limit this year,” says Matt Wagner, a DU biologist in New York. “Habitat conditions are also looking good. Lots of rain has helped fill some of central New York’s wetlands, although western New York is still struggling with water availability.”

“It’s warm this week, but cold conditions are expected for the next two weeks, which should set the stage for some great hunts,” he adds.

Wagner also reports good pushes of geese, including Atlantic brant, which pass through the region and congregate briefly along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River on their way to the Atlantic coast.

“The southeast zone opened last weekend, and the reports I've received indicate the hunting was lackluster, with not a ton of ducks around,” says veteran New York waterfowler Joe Albanese. “In the north-central part of the state around Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, many people did really well. Teal and wigeon were plentiful, among other species. Some of the reservoirs in the southern part of the state are absolutely loaded with ringnecks, which is interesting, and geese as well.”

Albanese also reports that the brant have in fact shown up on Long Island.

With the exception of Long Island, which has a notably different season date structure, the other four New York State duck zone seasons are open as of this week. Pay close attention to splits and closures, such as the Lake Champlain Zone, which closes Sunday, Oct. 29. Also, note special dates and bag-limit splits for scaup, and keep in mind that sea duck bag limits have been combined with the regular duck limits.

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