Dismal duck season so far in much of southeastern Pennsylvania
The regular gun season for deer hunting in Pennsylvania is about to end, and I know that the majority of hunters have been unwavering in their choice of pursuing whitetails for the past two weeks.
However, not everyone is out hunting deer. For various reasons, such as filled tags, or simply not being a deer hunter, some folks spend their days afield at this time pursuing another game species, waterfowl.
Canada goose seasons are closed statewide until the regular rifle season ends. Snow geese are currently open, along with brant, but at this time of year there are few of them around. That leaves ducks as the basic variety of waterfowl to hunt.
I have often picked days to hunt ducks when deer rifle season has been open. Usually, there two basic reason for doing so. One, I needed a break from toting my rifle around seeking to fill a deer tag. Secondly, because of heavy rains, cold snaps and just seeing a good number of ducks while traveling or deer hunting, I knew a choice of a “good duck day” would be a welcome change from hunting deer.
Here, in the southeastern portion of Pennsylvania where I live, it should not be considered a duck hunter’s paradise by any means. Still, when conditions are right, some darn good duck hunting may be had.
Geese, on the other hand, are a different story. Huge flocks of Canada geese are already passing-and stopping-in the area. They are part of the Atlantic Population that will winter along the mid-Atlantic region. They also are currently being protected in that their seasons have been greatly reduced in legal hunting days, with a daily limit of one bird. This action is the result of past poor nesting years during bad spring weather in Canada. Snow geese are a late winter-early spring local arriver.
But ducks in rifle season are just not a choice this year. A couple of friends and I hunt a local farm where a large section of a field usually floods by mid-November, providing an excellent spot to duck hunt. But the weather has refused to cooperate as it usually does, and not enough rain has fell to flood the field, leaving only a dry patch with some withered grasses scattered within.
There are some local streams one could hunt, and a couple of large lakes open to hunting nearby. But scouting has proved that no huntable numbers are there, either. Really slow migrations of ducks has not helped, and local birds that were reared close by seem to have moved on.
Even Pennsylvania statewide information I read courtesy of Ducks Unlimited field reports shows conditions, sightings and harvests lower than normal.
Hopefully, future weather will bring some better waterfowl hunting circumstances, and improved flights of migrants, or this may end up as a “no duck dinner” year for my home.