2017 North Dakota Duck Hunting report for Oct. 12

Time to put away the spinners?  Plus the gadwalls have arrived.
There are worse ways to spend a late morning than sitting motionless on the shore of a central North Dakota duck hunting slough with a black dog at your side watching wave after wave of gadwalls cup into the wind and splash down just a few yards from the end of your gun barrel. That's what I did this morning on three different sloughs. Gadwalls and widgeon. The dog looked at me quizzically a few times, then eventually realized we weren't going to shoot. I was after cans, or a drake pintail if the shot presented itself. I passed on a couple big greenheads. 

Times is good on the prairie!

As this is written a fierce northwest wind rages outside, a precursor for rain and possibly snow by Saturday.  The gadwalls are new, having arrived just yesterday and I expect the wind will bring in even more new birds.

Our last group here at Prairie Smoke Ranch worked hard all week to scratch out their birds and finally had a big shoot yesterday -- mallards, a pintail and a pile of greenwing teal.  They had hunted a different spot the previous morning; full of birds prior to shooting time and then nothing, nada, scratch the rest of the morning.  These were local birds and best guess was they were shy of the spinning wing decoys.  So the next morning, our heros went forth with just four decoys and left the spinner home  -- and nearly filled out.

Now that we have gaddies in I expect the spinners will once again be effective.  We also (finally) took a few cans off the Pass blind.  Dark geese are in thick, along with a few snows and white-fronts.

Retrieving birds on the mud-fringed sloughs is best left to the experts -- Labradors and such.  The next week or so should evolve into some classic mid-season waterfowling, with a mix of weather, birds and shooting. Check back for more updates later.

The author is a former US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Department of Agriculture manager. In retirement he owns and operates Prairie Smoke Ranch, located in central North Dakota, the duck hunting hub of the northern plains. All rights reserved. 

2017 Second Waterfowl Weekend Update
2017 North Dakota Duck Hunting Report for Oct. 19

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