Nov 2, 2019
Week 5 ND Waterfowl Hunting Summary – Central North Dakota (courtesy Prairie Smoke Ranch)
It has been a cold week, with most of our lakes and sloughs locked up in ice. Four straight nights in the teens gave us 1-3” of ice and finally froze our big lake over solid. As a result we had to chop out decoys which were left out too long. This ran off all our scaup but the dark geese persisted and stood on the ice for a couple days. Snow geese piled through our area, riding a steady Northwest wind for several days. Toward the end of the week the weather moderated and finally broke the freeze mark the last couple days. The snow geese have determined this is good enough as they have concentrated in our area and are feeding in our (now) snow free fields. Not sure where they are finding open water but they have been here in big numbers (tens of thousands) since mid-week. One of our hunters was treated to sight of innumerable snow goose flying over him in a local PLOTS field – a true wildlife spectacle which is hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it yourself. Lots of dark geese in too, from cacklers up to the big boys.
Mallards have been scarce -- more dark geese than mallards -- but one motivated crew busted the ice on one of our area lakes and had good shooting on both mallards and geese. We took the hint ourselves tonight (Saturday) as geese passed over our house from all directions; took a few rags out to the pit blind and had an enjoyable shoot on both geese and mallards. The mallards were decoying surprisingly well to our small snow goose spread.
Weather the next few days looks mild, with chances of a snow/rain mix. This should keep the birds here for the foreseeable future. Swans seem to have left the area along with any late cranes.
Upland birds are still here for the taking, the trend being they seem to be concentrated in certain locations. Our guys jumped a few pheasants and sharpies last night; we jumped a big covey of huns on the way to the goose pit. Porcupines seem to be a continuing problem, at least for some hunters...and their dogs. It’s odd since we didn’t see any all fall and now they seem to be encountered frequently in the sloughs by pheasant hunters.
This was a big weekend to move cattle and get the hay off. We still have a ways to go on harvesting local crops – beans are nearly all down but most of the corn is still standing. We may be tempted to go out after some more mallards or roosters but deer season is looming – time to get sighted in and get the stands and blinds ready. Unless we get a major weather event, there should be some good field hunting in the coming week. This is somewhat surprising, given our unseasonably cold weather of last week, but clearly the birds did not blow through as feared earlier. Be safe out there.