Migration Alert: Colder Weather Should Benefit Waterfowl Hunters in Wisconsin

Nov. 3, 2021 – Wisconsin

© Michael Furtman

Wisconsin is blessed with some of the best waterfowl habitat in the country, including a wealth of well-managed public hunting areas. Even during slow seasons, the Badger State typically produces enough local birds to keep hunters busy until the migration kicks in. A prolonged stretch of summerlike weather tested the mettle of many Wisconsin waterfowlers this season, but cold weather is finally bringing fresh birds from the north.

Being mobile and scouting extensively to find birds have been the keys to success for many hunters thus far, but with multiple days of north winds and freezing temperatures in the forecast this week, the situation is likely to change dramatically.

The latest reports from around Wisconsin indicate good numbers of mallards showed up this past weekend in many areas, and strong Canada goose numbers can be found throughout much of the state as well.

“We are definitely seeing a push of new birds into the state based on the feedback from our field staff and personal observations,” explains Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) biologist Taylor Finger. “We have been seeing good numbers of ringnecks, gadwalls, widgeon, pintails and now mallards in the central part of the state.”

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) hosts impressive numbers of waterfowl annually, most notably some of the largest concentrations of canvasbacks on the continent. Right on schedule, the upper pools of the Mississippi River have picked up a good number of canvasbacks and other ducks. Wisconsin DNR wildlife biologist Brenda Kelly reports the “cans” arrived early last week and their numbers should continue to build over the next two weeks.

Along the Lake Michigan coastline, diving duck hunters are also excited about the change in weather. “Right now, it’s blowing out of the north and temps are dropping below freezing—they gotta be coming,” says Dave Heath, guide and owner of Heath Outdoors. “When they get here, we will be ready for them.”

On Green Bay, waterfowlers have reported a push of new ducks, including mallards and a variety of diving ducks. “The divers are starting to show up in good numbers on the Mississippi as well as Green Bay, with decent numbers of scaup and redheads,” Finger says. “I suspect with the big north winds we will start to pick up more scaup, goldeneyes and buffleheads.”

The bottom line is this week should be a good one for waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin and throughout the Great Lakes region. As Dave Heath says, “Big changes are coming. Cold north winds for five days should bring the ducks we’ve been waiting for.”