The waterfowl migration continues a very slow trickle south. Above average temperatures the past week has kept much from pushing south across most areas. The one bright spot is an increase of rainfall in some areas effected by drought has helped both duck numbers and hunter success. The uptick in moisture looks to continue toward the first of the year and a well advertised drop to below normal temperatures is in the forecast.
Overall duck numbers in Missouri and Illinois are trailing off past peak, but mallard numbers have started slowly increasing. While many places have decent overall duck numbers, many of these birds arrived a month ago. Hunting has been tough with only sporadic success. Recent rainfall in Arkansas and Tennessee has helped drought conditions a little over the past week. With more rain falling today and another good shot late in the week should continue to help conditions and hunter success. Northern mallards continue to be held up across the Dakotas and Minnesota with a lack of snow cover and no hunting pressure due to the season being closed. Some of these ducks will likely continue to trickle south, but until a major snowfall or sub zero cold hits these areas, the bulk of these ducks will likely continue to stay there.
The Week Ahead
A well advertised weather system and accompanying cold front are set to sweep across the country the next few days. How cold and
how much precipitation are always the question. If this system is anything like previous ones this season, precipitation will struggle in the cold sector of the storm and temperatures overall will be warmer than advertised. What initially looked like a wallop of arctic air now looks modified at least through Christmas for the middle of the country. The northern tier of states will take the brunt of the first shot as lows could be well below zero. A secondary shot of cold could hit after Christmas that would deliver some of the coldest air we’ve seen in awhile to the Great Plains and Midwest. If areas in the south receive the much needed rainfall, look for success and duck numbers to increase. If the sub freezing temps materialize in Illinois and Missouri, success should ramp up as well as open water resources disappear. An educated duck can be equalized if he’s cold, hungry, and has limited options.