Oct 18, 2019
Week 3 ND Waterfowl Hunting Summary – Central North Dakota (courtesy Prairie Smoke Ranch)
It’s been a wild week on the prairie. It started out well, and our hunters took nearly a limit of birds before the blizzard hit. They gamely tried to get out on day two of the storm but got their side-by-side stuck in a drift and wisely turned back. Three of us went out in the storm and rescued some portable blinds, the other option waiting to find them in spring somewhere downwind in the landscape. We buried the ATVs/SxSs several times but got back to the house in one piece. Then we all waited --- white-out conditions, 40-50 mph steady blast from the Northwest. After three days of this we weren’t sure anyone was leaving. After the storm broke we had 6-8’ snowdrifts all around the yard and in the fields. We were fortunate to be on the edge of the storm and only got 8-10”, rather than the 20-30” east of us.
After the storm broke we had few birds around initially, and then they piled in. With all the small water slushed in and froze up (temp sunk to 22 degrees), the birds settled in the big water and provided some big shoots. Our hunters filled out 3 days in a row before the landscape started to thaw and the birds dispersed. Lots of scaup, cans, buffleheads, mallards and the omnipresent spoonies made their way to the cleaning shed. Lots of swans in for the taking but very few geese. Snows have started to make their way thru in modest numbers.
The birds remaining now are mostly scaup, mostly hanging out on the big water. The thin water around us is opening up but not holding much. Upland birds are plentiful – lots of pheasants, sharpies still scattered and surprising number of huns. Landscape is muddy but drying out – many beans and most corn and flowers still in the field. Whether they will be harvested at all will depend on the weather. A quick dry down and hard freeze would help.
West wind coming the next few days – hope this brings in some fresh birds.