Scattered concentrations of lesser Canada geese and mallards are providing limited opportunities for waterfowl hunters in Colorado, where a pattern of warm weather this fall continues to impact bird movement and behavior.
The Front Range of northern Colorado enjoyed a sizable increase in lesser Canada geese two weeks ago, says Loveland hunter Vance Stolz, but the migration of birds has slowed since.
“Our temperatures have been very mild here, so it has become a waiting game for the weather to change to get things moving again,” Stolz says. “Overall, our bird numbers appear to be average, but it’s hard to get a good idea on things, especially ducks, because they seem to be pretty well spread out in this area.”
Matt Reddy, Ducks Unlimited’s regional biologist in the state, echoes Stolz’s take on the migration so far this season.
“Other than the geese that seem to have arrived along the Front Range, the reports that I’ve gotten from the field suggest that there is just an overall lack of significant numbers of ducks and geese coming into Colorado,” Reddy says. “There are a few hot spots around reservoirs and bigger bodies of water, but the consensus from folks is that it has been a disappointing opening to the season.”
The sluggish start to the fall waterfowl seasons is not limited to eastern Colorado, Reddy says, as the absence of any sizable migration of birds along the West Slope and San Luis Valley is impacting opportunities for hunters in those parts of the state.
With fewer ducks and geese to work with and little in the way of any weather to spur bird movement, both into and within the state, Reddy says that hunters will need to invest more time before a hunt in order to find any level of success.
“Scouting is key,” Reddy says. “For South Platte duck hunters, I'd recommend scouting for shallow water areas near the big reservoirs. The big flocks of mallards I've seen out there are tucking into these areas and feeding, as we haven't had a hard freeze yet.”