Greetings from the prairie!
It’s sposed to freeze here tonite, but I trust spring has arrived in full force in your location. Here’s a quick update on conditions here on the prairie.
The good news was the winter weather – we needed another mild winter and we got it. Not much for snow or cold, which bodes well for both our upland bird populations and deer. We had a fairly strong pheasant year last year so here’s hoping we have lots of available nesters this spring and good nesting weather. Sharpies should be fine again, and we’ve seen a few huns as usual. The dogs are putting up roosters now on our morning and evening walks. We will have to wait for roadside counts from Game and Fish before we can declare bird populations up or down.
On the waterfowl end of things the birds are in thick already (sightings so far include geese, mallards, pintails, gaddies, widgeon, spoonies, blue-wings, bluebills and ruddies) although our pond counts are down this spring compared to last year. Unless we get buckets of rain now and in June ponds will likely stay low or disappear altogether; most are down about a foot right now. This may impact our area brood production but typically the smaller wetlands will hang in there until July or August. Fewer fall ponds are not a problem here, as the birds are more concentrated as a result.
We have had some timely rains already and are working on getting our wildlife food plots in. Our corn food plots were picked clean over the winter but there are a surprising amount of soybeans still scattered on the ground. We plan to cut back on the size of the large 12 acre food plot to make it easier to manage, as well as easier to hunt. Not quite sure of the exact mix but we’ll be seeding corn, beans, sorghum and maybe a forage mix. The strips seemed to work well last year so we will continue to experiment with combinations of those. Landowners around us are planting right now, with about half the acreage planted – should be no problem to get everything in by end of the month if the weather holds.
BIG LAKES FINALLY RECEDING
Our large Bluebill lake has expanded the last four years or so and now appears to have finally reached its peak – it is down slightly this spring. The lake level has less to do with precipitation and more to do with run-off and seep from surrounding sloughs. We could also really use a drawdown of the Westcamp Pass slough, about five feet would be fine. Last year the level was so high it was difficult to access and hunt.
It’s already clear we will need to move some of the permanent blinds around due to lower water conditions. And in retrospect, we will have to move the large blind on the west side of Bluebill down south again – this has been one of our biggest producers over the years but the birds did not work as well when we moved it north last year.
NO SURPRISES THIS FALL ON REGS
We don’t anticipate any crazy new waterfowl or upland rules for this year. The framework and bag limits should be very similar, if not identical to last year. I will keep you posted on any other updates or changes as they arise. Meanwhile, it’s spring – time to get in some fishing. Work those dogs!
Dan & Jeanie
Prairie Smoke Ranch
New cell – 701-537-4171