Waterfowl seasons have come and gone in the Mississippi Flyway. The Spring Conservation Order, aka Spring Snow Goose Season, started on February 1 in parts of the flyway, but it will be another month, at least, before I head down to central Missouri to spend a few days shooting snows with the guys at Habitat Flats (habitatflats.com). This year I’ll take my wife, Julia Carol; she hasn’t seen the Spring spectacle, and really needs to experience it at least once.
But first, let’s review: I never set a duck decoy in my home state of Iowa this season, a first for me. I killed eight Canadas by pass-shooting, including a banded bird, so I put enough geese in the freezer for a good mess of jerky. As far as ducks go, some Mississippit Flyway hunters did well, particularly the guys gunning the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Most of the rest didn’t fare so hot. Geese, on the other hand, were as thick as crows on a gutpile this season; everyone I spoke with this fall all throughout the Upper Midwest did very well, if not exceptionally well on Canadas. Travis Mueller and Matt Pence, both with the Avery Team here in Iowa, reported excellent hunts during December and into early January. Mark Brendemuehl out of Minnesota, also with Avery, wrote of good goose hunting and some pretty decent early duck outings, despite extremely low water conditions that made getting to and from select locations quite the challenge.
As I write this from my office rocker, it’s somewhere in the high single digits here in eastern Iowa. Temperatures like this, especially when combined with no snow, make the diehard ice anglers all giggly, but for me they only give a clearer understanding of why smart, older folks leave the Upper Midwest in November and don’t come back until it’s time to pick morel mushrooms.
January 11th marked the closing of Iowa’s South Goose Zone, and it went out with a bang. Actually, several bangs. But only one thud.
Julia Carol and I met friend and F&S Shotguns editor Phil Bourjaily at his home where, after changing into goose togs suitable for 52 degrees, mud, and remnants of snow, we were guided to a hilltop just five minutes from the driveway. With geese already overhead, we set about 100 mixed full-body decoys a short distance downwind of three well-camouflaged, if I do say so myself, layout blinds.
Two to three inches of rain fell over eastern Arkansas Jan. 12, causing slash water to collect in previously dry fields and pushing the Cache and White Rivers into adjoining sloughs, oxbows and green timber flats. The ducks have responded by shifting from managed water areas into these freshly-flooded places where new food sources are available.
Jim Daniel of Bald Knob reports, "It's been a good year for many hunters in east-central Arkansas. Local refuges have been holding close to 400,000 birds – mallards, pintails, gadwalls, widgeons, teal. Before the rain Saturday the best shooting was on managed fields and timber where water could be pumped and controlled. ¿