Ducks in Pennsylvania may be hard to find this season

While duck hunting has slowed overall, some areas in central and southern Minnesota had exceptional hunting in recent days as the cold temperatures and northwest winds moved good numbers of mallards and other late-season migrants into the state.

This past weekend was a rainy one, at least in my area of Pennsylvania, in the southeast. There were times when the sky opened and rain poured from above in large amounts.

It was the sort of rainfall that produces big puddles, overflows streams and generally makes for good spots to locate migrating ducks, especially the puddle fowl like teal, wood ducks and mallards, to name a few species.

But you know what, even with all that rain, the local parched earth seemed to suck up every drop of moisture before it could even form a puddle, or reach a stream and raise the water levels in low flowing streams.

With the season for ducks on the horizon, beginning in mid October, prospects locally are not looking that promising. It will take a lot more rain before aquifers fill enough to allow for high stream and river flows, or even flooded field corners, the sort of spots where I do my duck hunting.

Last year was a rather crappy season for my friends and I locally as we pursued the ducks and geese that usually migrate through our area, because a long period of no snow cover kept the birds to the north in New York State and Canada.

This year could perhaps be even worse.

Seasoned waterfowlers usually adjust to these dry and warm conditions by simply moving to places where there is enough water that migrating birds will come to, like big rivers and lakes where hunting is allowed.

They say they will more often than not use bigger decoy spreads at these places, hunt more often on windy days when cold fronts pass through, and be willing to move from where waterfowl are not to where they are.

They also say their hunts become more in tune with feeding locals as ambush spots, rather than watery roosting areas, hoping to catch ducks and geese in spent grain fields, and skipping the hunts on water.

I suppose that’s just a way of saying “whatever works, use it,” and don’t hesitate to change past practices if they are not producing.

I don’t know. Maybe things will develop differently, with water supplies building, plus cold and snowy fronts pushing lots of birds through the area.

But at this point, I just don’t foresee that happening. Hope I’m wrong.


Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe, Waterfowl

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