The outlook is bright for waterfowl hunters in South Dakota, which by all indications had strong waterfowl production this year.
“Although we didn’t do an official survey this spring, it sure looks like one of the better hatches that we have seen in a while,” says state waterfowl biologist Rocco Murano. “The amount of water out there this spring attracted a lot of ducks, and then the conditions allowed those birds to have a successful nesting season. There seemed to be duck broods everywhere, including mallards and an absolute truckload of blue-winged teal.”
The migration of ducks from South Dakota has already begun, Murano says, courtesy of a late-summer cold front that was accompanied by clear skies, cooler temperatures, a northwest wind and a full moon. This spurred blue-winged teal to begin moving south, as well as other early migrating species like pintails and shovelers.
According to South Dakota hunter and guide Ben Fujan. “Many wetlands are starting to dry up, which is forcing birds to move to bigger water bodies, so you’re not likely to find those shallow-water hunting opportunities like we have had in recent years, at least not at this point in the season. But Mother Nature can change things in a hurry,” Fujan says. “There should be good field hunting opportunities as the farmers are really getting a move on the harvest. The small grains are out, there has been a lot of corn chopped for silage, and there are more and more soybeans coming out every day.”