The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual fall wetland survey indicates good but declining wetland conditions for duck hunting throughout much of the state.
Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird supervisor, said once again the northwest region has the highest number of wetlands holding water, but virtually all areas of the state are drier than last year, with the poorest conditions and most extreme declines in the southern half of the state.
“The general trend is that wetland conditions are best in the northwest and north central, but begin to decline moving south and east across the state,” Szymanski said. “The southeast region had conditions that were comparable to lows observed in 2012.”
Szymanski said this year’s moisture conditions have been somewhat of a roller coaster – fairly dry through April, extremely wet in May and June, and then dry again beginning in July.
“Drying conditions should provide good loafing areas for waterfowl and cranes along wetlands, but in some cases, this can make hunting difficult if there is wide mud margin between emergent vegetation and the water,” Szymanski added. “Hunters should be cautious driving off-trail to avoid soft spots, and areas like tall vegetation that could be a fire hazard.”
The quality of waterfowl hunting in North Dakota is predicated on weather conditions and patterns. Szymanski said strong reproduction for ducks in breeding areas both in and outside of North Dakota makes for good fall hunting potential.
“Hunters should always scout because of ever changing conditions and distribution of waterfowl,” Szymanski said.
The wetland survey is conducted in mid-September, just prior to the waterfowl hunting season, to provide an assessment of conditions duck hunters can expect.