Duck season outlook is good so far

Reports from various regions of Arkansas indicate we already have a buildup of waterfowl in the state. Lots of things must come together just right for us to have a really good duck and goose season, but the outlook for this year seems bright.

From northern counties to the Louisiana border, hunters are excited about the flocks of ducks they're seeing. A friend and I drove to Stuttgart last week for supplies and it was encouraging to see a good many ducks and geese already working the fields. Similar reports are coming in daily from hunters across the state.

The bad news is that ducks are migratory. This means they can be here today and gone tomorrow. Hot weather can stall the migration in northern states, but really cold weather that comes early could drive waterfowl into Louisiana before Christmas.

Water is another key element. Sparse water crowds ducks into limited locations, and they may continue their flight southward until they find suitable habitat. This is why the pumpedup fields around Stuttgart do so well even in average years. They've taken the element of chance out of their water equation, and learned that ducks will concentrate even better on their flooded fields when there is limited rainfall.

The other side of the coin is too much water. Ducks can spread out thinly into vast backwaters of rivers and streams, and even into the normally small creek systems if we should get an overabundance of water this fall. When rivers flood, ducks leave Stuttgart, and the only choice hunters have is to follow them wherever they go.

So, here's the bottom line. It needs to be cold enough to drive ducks southward, but not so cold that it freezes up here. We need rain to flood timber in river systems, but not so much that ducks can spread out too much and be difficult to find and hunt. Even when all these factors come together we must have good camouflage, good calling, and good shooting to harvest a mess of mallards.

Come to think of it, that's what makes duck hunting and goose hunting so much fun. One never knows what the day will bring, and never makes the mistake of thinking he has a sure thing. After all, they don't call it a "wild goose chase" for nothing.

Lots of times the waterfowl hunter comes up empty-handed. But, on those memorable days when everything works out just right and he is successful, there is no happier man that the waterfowl hunter who goes afield, has a great day, and comes home loaded with his favorite webfooted fowl.

The Advance-Monticellonian

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Monticello, AR 71657

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Monticello, AR 71655

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