Migration Alert: Late-Season Conditions Remain Dry in Oklahoma

Jan. 13, 2023 – Central Flyway – Oklahoma

© Michael Furtman

Winter weather conditions in the northern reaches of the Central Flyway have helped push ducks and geese into Oklahoma, where hunters are battling dry conditions and pressured birds as the waterfowl season enters the home stretch.

According to Paxton Smith, a waterfowl biologist and wetlands coordinator with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, it has been a sporadic migration of ducks and geese over the past several weeks, but there isn’t a shortage of birds in the state. The challenge has been finding days with the appropriate weather conditions needed to get birds moving during shooting hours, and at that point, dealing with ducks and geese that have a season’s worth of education under their belts.

“There are good pockets of mallards and other puddle ducks out there to be found. The central and western regions of Oklahoma have good numbers of lesser Canada geese and snow geese staging on larger reservoirs and watersheds,” Smith says. “If you can get access and catch a day where the temperatures aren’t too warm, there is some good hunting to be had. For the most part, though, the conditions have been pretty stale, and the hunting has been slow in recent days, especially for hunters on public areas.”

Adding to that challenge, Smith says, are the low water levels found on the majority of reservoirs across Oklahoma, which are impacting the availability of food resources and creating difficult conditions for hunters trying to hide.

“Most of our public hunting opportunities are found on these reservoirs, and if you can find areas where the water is up into the vegetation, you stand a chance to do pretty well. With the water levels down in so many reservoirs, though, what hunters are mostly finding are these large, exposed mud flats that don’t have much in the way of cover or places to hide, so I’m encouraging folks to bring along their layout blinds or use an A-frame blind for concealment,” Smith says. “If you’re going to hunt a reservoir, you need to bring some cover along in order to hide.”

Smith adds that hunters shouldn't be picky as the Oklahoma duck season enters its final weeks.

“There are good numbers of green-winged teal around right now. They tend to decoy well, and they seem to like these areas with the mud,” Smith says. “It’s just one way to find some success while the conditions for mallards and other species maybe aren’t so good.”