Migration Alert: Weather Should Improve Hunting in Pennsylvania

Dec. 12, 2019 – Atlantic Flyway – Pennsylvania

© Adam Benenati

With an arctic cold front poised to hit the Northeast, temperatures will drop below average and rain will change to snow. Pennsylvania waterfowlers are hopeful for a push of fresh ducks riding the northwest winds.

The resulting frigid temperatures should push the snow and ice line south and give the next wave of ducks the motivation to begin moving as well. “We had a good push of ducks a few weeks ago, but those birds have gotten stale,” says Nate Huck, waterfowl biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. “I’m excited about the coming weather. This new front should push more ducks in.”

Huck says that most of the ducks around are mallards, but the divers are beginning to show. “A few divers have moved into the northwest corner of the state,” he explains, likely blown off the big pond. As winds increase with the coming front, hunters can expect more to spill out onto the smaller, quieter waters. That’s not the only game in town for diver hunters, however. “There’s also some on the Susquehanna,” Huck adds.

Scott Shafer of Black Duck Outfitters has been working hard for ducks recently, but he’s found some mallards on the backwaters. “Farm ponds are your best bet until the freeze hits,” the veteran guide offers, noting that he’s been burning plenty of gas to find honey holes. With abundant water, the puddle ducks have been spread out. “I’ve been driving as much as 45 minutes past where I usually do to find ducks.”

When it comes to Canadas, however, it’s a much different story.

“There’s plenty of geese everywhere,” Shafer notes. “You can get in on some great Canada action now.” In addition to the plentiful local birds, Shafer has been seeing big pushes of migrating geese. “You can even hear them moving at night,” he says, with nearly every cut cornfield holding good numbers of honkers. You can expect those number to increase with the coming storm.”

Huck and Shafer are on the same page regarding the weather, agreeing that a good cold front is needed to get the birds moving. Hopefully the predicted arctic blast is just what the doctor ordered to amp up the migration.