2017 North Dakota Duck Hunting Report for Oct. 25

Strong northwest wind brings in birds. Corn remains standing.
Foggy morning on the big water
We finally got the northwest wind we have been waiting for and it has brought in new birds -- we note mostly divers and an influx of snow geese in the area.  A road trip to the Goodrich area revealed the start of the snow goose migration, just a few thousand, but it appears the move is on. Last week was slow, with most success found jump shooting as the birds were not moving.

With a high of 37 degrees and snow predicted on Thursday that should kick-start a significant migration. One issue making it a tough hunt for both upland and field set waterfowlers is standing corn.  There are a couple factors working against getting the corn down -- low prices (under $3 a bushel) and high moisture content. It doesn't pay to combine the corn and then spend a lot of $$ drying it down from 18-20% moisture to 12-14% when you can let it stand and let Mother Nature do it for free.  And so, while the small grains are in, we have lots of standing corn in some of our traditional central North Dakota waterfowl areas.

We don't have waterfowl hunters in this week at Prairie Smoke Ranch so the upland birds will get a test.  The sharptails have become a bit more concentrated and predictable.  Pheasants are not plentiful but widely available for those with dog power and willing to expend some boot leather going after them.  Hunting pheasants without a dog is an exercise in exercise -- 'cause that's all you're going to get! 

Some late cranes coming through and still a few swans around.  This snow coming Thursday will make for tough upland hunting but should really boost the waterfowl harvest.  Hunting pressure has been very light this year, making it tough to move the birds around.  I expect "the drought" may have scared some hunters off.  As usual, the main impact has been to concentrate the birds on the available water, much of which is far from the roads.  Better days ahead!

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 North Dakota Duck Hunting Report for Oct. 19
2017 North Dakota Duck Hunting Report for Oct. 31

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