Oct 5, 2019
Week 1 ND Waterfowl Hunting Summary – Central North Dakota (courtesy Prairie Smoke Ranch)
The resident opener this year followed the usual script – lottsa birds everywhere, few hunters to push them around. Limits were taken pretty easily. Blue-winged teal and scaup were most common in our area. Mallards, pintails and cans scarce.
The nonresident opener last weekend followed the usual script as well – lottsa birds, a little more pressure, some new ducks moving in. Scaup and gadwalls dominated the gamebags. Others making it into the cleaning shed were redheads, widgeon, spoonies, mallards. No pintails, no cans.
An east wind and rain most of the week finally gave way to snow on Thursday nite – 4-5” here (which is all gone today). That moved in a flight of bluebills and more gadwalls and moved out the BWT. It was a nice bump of birds but not a major flight since it came from the east/southeast rather than northwest. We harvested a couple green-winged teal, ringnecks and as many scaup as one wanted. Three-bird daily limits of scaup have been common all week.
Right now we have a major scaup presence, with several hundred on one of our smaller lakes and 25-50 loafing on others. Gadwalls are probably next in prevalence.
In contrast to last year swans have been rare and nearly all the cranes have moved out. We received over 60/100ths of rain last night and it has been cold. Just this afternoon the wind switched to the northwest – this may bring in our traditional early wave of gadwalls.
We have only been using a dozen or so decoys on our water spreads and have not been using spinners yet. Friends hunting field spreads west of us have been doing well on dark geese but mallards are tougher.
Upland birds have been a welcome surprise, with sharptails showing up everywhere and huns having a good year. We’ll know later about pheasants but seem to be a good number around.
In general it has been colder and much wetter than “normal”. Could really use a few days of sunshine to dry up our marginal Sheridan County roads as well as ranch roads. Expect the next few days of hunting to be solid.
Check back for weekly updates throughout the 2019 season.