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CANOPY SAM

2014 NoDak Waterfowl Reports

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CANOPY SAM

Also posted this under the North Dakota thread, but I know this one gets a lot more attention.

As I'm planning to bring my sons out to NoDak this October for some waterfowl hunting I'd really appreciate some day to day information on how the birds are moving thru the State of North Dakota.

With the early cold weather we're now experiencing, and knowing that most, if not all the small grains have now been harvested in Canada, I'm thinking the migration may run a little earlier this year.

Please post your NoDak waterfowl reports and observations here. I'm also closely watching the DU waterfowl migration reports. Thanks in advance for your input!

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Todd Caswell

ALOT of the small grain in Manitoba has NOT been harvested, ALOT of it is laying in the field, Talked with a buddy every day last week and very little combining was being done, and alot of grain laying there in swaths.. No reason for the birds to leave, one particular Barley field was hunted 6 mornings in a row, estimated that there were close to 600 duck, geese shot off that one field alone, and it was loading up again last night as they left...

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CANOPY SAM

Interesting Todd. I can't recall exactly where, but I'd read/heard almost exactly the opposite. Not disputing you though.

Sounds like you've got friends up there, so that exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. thanks.

Did some grouse hunting this afternoon up here in NW Minnesota, and if anything happened with all this west/northwest wind we've had over the last 3 days I think it simply pushed a lot of our local birds out, but I can't say I saw anything that even resembled migrating birds today.

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Big Country

TC is right. I just got back from our annual Saskatchewan trip on Saturday. That province along with Manitoba we saw many, many fields that were either not harvested or just swathed and laying in the fields. There are lot's of ducks up north still. Found an area around Quill lakes that had major flooding and was amazed at the thousands of ducks hanging there. When I say thousands I'm talking tens of thousands. Alas, the snows which we pursue were far and few in our area. Fun trip.

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Todd Caswell

I'm leaving this coming Saturday ( for Manitoba), will report back when we get home following week,

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TylerS

I've seen ducks push out of ND, but not much to replace them. Still plenty around to hunt, though. Definitely not a lack of opportunity! I would say the bulk of the migration won't happen until late October, as it usually does.

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fish_hunt_guy

The "Big Push" (and I'm not refering to the one on my toilet this morning) is coming boys....patience grin

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Todd Caswell

unless there is a Major front there really is no major push, to the lower 48, those ducks and geese really have no reason to leave Canada.. Iv'e drove home before during a major snow storm and seen huge feeds just north of the border, where they have very little pressure only to cross the border and never see a duck or goose for 60 miles, until you hit the devils lake area where outfitters rule and have huge tracks of land leased and posted..

I hunted ND (SE on ND/SD border) for the last time last year Nov. 23rd. Below zero temps, only water kept open was because of the birds, that evening there was a major push straight South to warmer temps and open water, for 5 straight hours the birds came off a roost a mile to the south of us, 10 ,20 30, thousand? I don't know but it was a steady stream for over 5 hours as far as the eye could see, now that's a push..

And no we didn't shoot a bird, night befor the field had 10,000 mallards in it, they never got off the roost in the morning, and got up and left in the afternoon, I told the boys "we really are seeing the major push and the tail end of the migration tonight"

Even though we didn't shoot a bird, it was fun to see and be part of it, a few days later they were covered up in snow ....

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brittman

I grew up in Nodak and have hunted waterfowl in ND across many (if not most) counties (top, middle, bottom) for almost over 40 years. We have found that generally the same areas hold birds, but actual specific spots change dramatically year over year and over time. Localized flooding, hail, crop types (peas, barley, wheat, corn) etc can impact where birds stage.

Some birds move on the calendar (moon phase?) aided by a good prevailing wind.

Snow geese used to lead the migration into ND, now they are the last to pass through the state.

For those of you that hunt the DL area ... in 1990 Stump Lake was dry.

ND still experiences major waves through out the fall. Birds will get sparse in one area and be recharged a few days or weeks later.

The advantage a resident has is they can get out more often ... even if it just a scouting trip.

I have watched major feeds in August (adult male mallards)on the first cut small grain fields and feeds late in the year.

If you are targeting mallards then generally the largest flocks (big push) are just below the main freeze / snow line. Some years that line cuts across ND and the birds stay for a long time, other years that line moves quickly through Canada and ends up somewhere across Nebraska or even KS/MO.

Every year is different.

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CANOPY SAM

I agree with both of you guys. I've spent many years trying to nail down the big push, but doggone if I've ever truly pinned it to one particular day or two.

I've been darn close a couple times. One year we had a decent shoot for a few days, then had to head back home. My father-in-law, who lived on the family farm and worked out in his shop all day most days, called me the day we returned home and said, "You should've stayed one more day." He went on to say that from sunup to sundown the next day he continuously heard geese and ducks flying south chattering the whole way. Everything froze up that day, and 99.99% of the birds were in Nebraska by week's end.

Just like Todd's experience above though, even if we'd been there through the big push I'm not entirely convinced we would have massacred the birds. They know when it's time to move, and typically they make that move over several hundred miles very quickly. Usually with a really powerful winter front blowing their backsides south, and just ahead of hard freezing weather.

I'm not asking you guys to pinpoint the birds, or report to me exactly where and when you see the best time to hit ND. I just need some help discerning a "good" time to get out there. We have a lot of family land between Carrington, Goodrich, Harvey area, and I'm always pretty confident we can find some action.

My biggest concern is that we get all loaded up, make the 5-hour drive to the farm, and the next morning find all the sloughs frozen, and all the birds gone. I've had it happen, and it's a HUGE disappointment. The cold weather, and strong winds we've had for four days in a row now have got to be driving down the pond water temps FAST! I haven't seen a stretch like this in quite a while, and I'd personally wager that this is going to freeze things up earlier then normal this year. I'm not sure if northern Canada is experiencing the same weather or not?

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brittman

Teal are obviously on the move and have been for some time. Louisiana and Texas are reporting specks, pintails and redheads showing up along the southern part of their states. This is leading edge migration, but also suggests how spread out the migration really is.

Last year was much warmer and a decent amount of teal and woodducks (they are in ND too.) held around much longer.

Cold fronts and bird migrations are not well understood. Do the birds move 200 miles or 1000 miles on a single push ??

Quote:
called me the day we returned home and said, "You should've stayed one more day." He went on to say that from sunup to sundown the next day he continuously heard geese and ducks flying south chattering the whole way.

You would have most likey simply watched them too.

Even this week I am hearing more sad stories out of ND than big shoots. Pockets of birds exist, but many, many sloughs are sitting empty for now.

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brittman

I have had good luck hunting after a hard freeze when warm temperatures return and all the small water reopens.

There has been several times when much of ND is iced over for 3-4 days (say around the 15th or 20th of Oct) only to warm and everything reopen and fill with birds.

The guys there during the freeze certainly struggled.

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Tubitz

To some extent it doesn't matter how cold or "froze up" it gets in north Dakota there are still birds to be found and good shoots to be had. If you are making an out of state trip there try not to limit your hunting to one specific area, I understand if you are staying at a farm house or family land and so on but the whole reason to travel the hundreds of miles to get there is to shoot birds? Put on some more miles and find birds to shoot. You guys keep mentioning the sloughs freezing up and this and that but if snow depths aren't to deep birds will stay as long as there is food. Whether it be big water, rivers, or cooling lakes there is open water for these birds year round in north Dakota and they stay as long as food is available. Once the sloughs freeze the big ducks (mallards,pintails, and the geese) will move to big deep lakes that freeze a lot later than the sloughs before they even think about migrating as long as food is available. I am convinced by what I have seen that food availability drives there migration out of Canada and the Dakotas more than freeze up does to a certain extent.

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Shu

Report from the long weekend - we had great hunting, limits of mallards every day along with a few pintails and bonus geese. We were hunting wheat fields near big water running traffic. Remember to tag your birds with name and date as yesterday, just west of Tower City, the Game & Fish were routing all hunters into a rest area for inspection.

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walleyeking19

Report from the long weekend - we had great hunting, limits of mallards every day along with a few pintails and bonus geese. We were hunting wheat fields near big water running traffic. Remember to tag your birds with name and date as yesterday, just west of Tower City, the Game & Fish were routing all hunters into a rest area for inspection.

Did you leave the wings attached to them so they could be identified? I've always wondered how they'd go about checking all those hunters

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Shu

Yes, zip lock bag with name, date, and wing attached for each bird. Makes it easy.

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fishuhalik

My .02. There is no big push. I'm not gonna call myself a NoDak expert, but I had a pretty unique situation that allowed me to get a pretty unique understanding of the migration through NoDak. For my job (oilfield) I was driving to different sites every day. Usually 80-120 miles one way. Then I was working outside from sun-up to well beyond sun-down. I also drove the entire length of NoDak from Williston to the Twin Cities & back every 20 days. I'd always drive down 2 through DL on my way home, then come up 94 & come NW at Jamestown on my way back to work. So I literally scouted the entire state every 20 days. I also spent a lot of time in the field actually hunting. What I've found is that every area loads up at different times, one week Fargo would be full of birds, the next week DL would be full & another week Jamestown would be loaded. The most birds I ever saw while in the field was on Oct 14 of 2012. If I had to guess I'd say I saw around 1.5 bazillion ducks & geese, give or take a few. Moral of the story...IMHO, if you want to always be successful, keep your scouting area BROAD! If you aren't seeing birds around DL, head to Jamestown or Grand Forks. Put on enough miles & you WILL find that hunt of a lifetime every trip. You might have to sacrifice a day or two of your trip to just scouting, but it'll be worth it!!

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CANOPY SAM

All great advice here, and greatly appreciated. I've been hunting waterfowl for the better part of 35 years, and can lump about 15 seasons of that in North Dakota.

I really do wish I had the time and resources to scout around the state for several days, but it simply isn't a luxury I have. We have family land at approximately the mid-state point between the Missouri flyway and Devil's Lake. We can always scratch out birds. I've got access to a couple thousand acres of farm land, fields, and sloughs by the hundreds.

Anyone who's hunted North Dakota thru a few seasons knows there are ebbs and flows of birds. I'm simply asking for a little first hand (or second hand smile ), timely info on migration reports. It's fairly clear that right now the numbers are down a little with the majority of local birds moving out of state, and not much yet down from Canada.

You certainly have put in the time on the road thru the Dakotas, Fishuhalik! And I think you're probably right in regard to some years not seeing any major push of birds. I'm sure there are many years when all the birds just sort of trickle thru the state. I have, however, seen the epic snow goose migration thru ND, with continuous skeins of birds stretching for miles and miles in the sky. I've also seen a few "giant pushes" of birds that even showed up on Avionics radar when millions of birds moved south over only a few hours just ahead of a big late cold front.

Only problem with the two times I've witnessed that happen was I wasn't actually at the farm to see it! mad I was just hearing reports, and watching the radar on my computer at home. And of course listening to my father-in-law chuckle at me over the phone that I wasn't there. cry

It happens, but I'm really not here to dispute whether it's just duck blind legend, or if it's real. smile Right now I'm targeting a 4-day weekend from Oct 30th thru Nov 2nd, and due to work and project schedules I'm throwing all my duck and goose eggs in one basket. I can't get all my boys together for any other time, but I could run out to the farm alone if there is a good bunch of birds that suddenly pour into the central part of the state. That's all I'm looking for here fellers. Good, timely intel, and hopefully it will help others reading here to know a little more about when to hunt NoDak as well.

Thanks to all, and please keep the reports coming! wink

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fish_hunt_guy

Whether it really exists or not, all i know is that its fun to talk about "the big push" and I'm not talking about the one on my toilet this afternoon

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fishuhalik

Whether it really exists or not, all i know is that its fun to talk about "the big push" and I'm not talking about the one on my toilet this afternoon

Now that's funny right there!!

Sam, I'll be in NoDak just before you. Making the 1800 mile drive from Pleasanton, TX on the 21st, leaving the 27th. We'll be driving straight up, non-stop. Should be a fun drive! I have no idea where we'll end up, could be anywhere from Grenora to DL to Jamestown. I'm driving my Chevy Cruze that gets 38+ mpg to save on gas for scouting. Once we find birds my buddy with the trailer full of dekes will follow. I'll be giving you detailed day-to-day reports every day. Sorry all, I won't broadcast specifics online, but you seem like a pretty legit guy & if I can pinpoint some bird concentrations for ya I will. Hopefully after 5 1/2 full days of hunting/scouting I'll have some good news for ya!

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fishuhalik

& I have seen the snow goose push. I couldn't tell you how many birds flew over Williston that night but it was a ton. Started just before dusk & I could hear em flying overhead for hours. Pretty amazing!

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CANOPY SAM

Wow fish! That's some serious dedication to NoDak waterfowling! For that much effort I sure hope you guys find the shoot of your dreams!

Look forward to daily reports, and I really do hope you guys hammer em'!

Thanks.

As a side report. NW Minnesota right now. We had several thousand geese around TRF before the last 5 days of high winds. I haven't done THAT much road time, but from what I can see almost all of these birds have been blown south. I haven't seen any new birds moving in, but I can't speak for what's going on at the refuge's to the north of us. The groups of Sandhill Cranes have been growing pretty fast, so they're on the move.

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BoxMN

Was in NE NoDak last Thursday thru yesterday (roofing Friday, hunting Sat am, then finishing roof, then hunting Sunday and monday). We did okay as a group, but not great. Had a real good field mallard hunt, but they moved a bit and we had work to do. Saw the canadas starting to increase as Sunday turned to Monday and Tuesday. Overall the number of ducks was less than expected, as we saw way less teal than expected, but we still shot plenty. Lots of redheads, shot a few pintail, and then ever present smilers smile

This was our first NR opener trip (in 15+ years of going there), and I think we will do it again. I am going back in three weeks with smaller group of guys and shorter time.

We had fun, and the weather was great, tho big wind! Overall I would say the sloughs were wetter/higher than usual though many small ones were dried up.

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Feathers Rainin

Even if you go when there are not many birds by Nodaks standards you should have no trouble shooting your birds if you scout and you know how to hunt. Guys who don't get their birds either don't scout enough and spend too much time in the bar or simply don't know how to hunt. I don't think you will have either of those problems. The time you are going should be prime. If you happen to get a hard freeze when you are out there go to the rivers or big water and get under the tornados in the fields. Good luck!

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Livin On The X Outdoors!

We used to go to nodak the week before Halloween. Depends on the fall obviously. This year it looks to warm through October. We are headed to Saskatchewan oct 18th, and im thinking we might be a hit early for the mallards. Just returned from Minot from work, saw a few decent feeds east of rugby . Also saw 2 fields with a large number of snows. As stated above its not easy, but sacrifice a day to scout and no matter when you decide to go you'll get on them. good luck

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fishuhalik

Seeing snow grinds already? Seems at least a couple weeks ahead of schedule

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Kettle

Drove through Nodak on the 2nd then again on the 9th. Quite the difference in amount of birds off of HWY 2. After a week of 35mph NW winds there were more birds in the area that I could see from the road. Saw a larger mix of birds including some divers, cans, readheads etc. Teal and shovlers were the most abundant I saw on HWY 2. Good luck to everyone who heads out that way.

Kettle

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fishuhalik

Awesome, thanks for the report kettle!

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TylerS

Spent yesterday zooming around SE ND. Lots of water, few waterfowl. Was hoping to get a mid-day decoy hunt in, but couldn't find water with ducks worth hunting. Ended up shooting a couple roosters instead. Can't go home empty handed!

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totally_addicted

We're headed up for a long weekend. Are the fields wet or can a guy drive a truck out to set up? Can't wait! Two more sleeps and we'll be on our way!

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