Week 2 Waterfowl Summary – Oct. 10 – Central North Dakota
The week started well with some wind and rain and a lot of birds in. Our hunters nearly filled out the first morning and had plenty of opportunities hunting a couple of our traditional early season sloughs. Birds included scaup, wigeon, a few BWT, gaddies and mallards. The next day the weather moderated and hunting was tougher. Our crew hit a couple local WPAs and came back with some afternoon sharptail. Two days later they really focused on upland birds and came back with 8 sharpies and four Huns. Later in the cleaning shed they reported all were full of the small wild hawthorn apples which dot our landscape.
The boys continued to scratch out some birds each morning and also took a goose, but waterfowl hunting definitely slowed. Tuesday night was beautiful; clear and very little wind. Then the weather started to get bad – west wind, rain, snow flurries on Wednesday. By Thursday morning it was tough weather but not enough snow to keep our hunters in – they went out and had good shoots in the snow. By the afternoon however it was too nasty to hunt. Birds started to move in with the weather – cranes, swans and our first snow geese. By Friday a full-blown prairie blizzard settled in – winds to 50 mph, 5-6” of snow whipped into 6-8’ drifts. Forecast calls for another 8-14” of snow overnight. Devil’s Lake area is projected to get an additional 20”.
Hunting is done for the foreseeable future – probably until Sunday/Monday of next week. The pheasant opener tomorrow will be a non-event. We will be challenged to dig out from this mess after the wind finally quits. Most major access roads in central and eastern North Dakota are closed. (See https://www.dot.nd.gov/travel-info-v2/ for updated information.) Secondary roads may or may not be open for days. Field travel will be by foot. Drifts will be too much for 4X4s or ATVs.
What will this due to the flight of birds? Traditionally we have good shooting with snow on the ground and open water. Fully expect we’ll be chasing new birds next week. Can’t say how this early storm will impact the traditional late season push, but it is freezing water rather than snow that really gets the birds moving. Seems too early for freeze-up.
Locally, we still have a lot of crops in the field – some wheat, beans, corn and sunflowers. Local farmers will be challenged to get these crops in. You can bet field roads and section lines will be greasy and slick for many days after the snow melts. This is a dangerous storm and will leave us with a sloppy landscape, use some common sense in getting around.