Hunt

Photo © Zach Dosch

Migration Reports

2021 Waterfowl Report

Week of December 13-17

Northeast 

As of mid-week, good numbers of snow geese remain in the area and providing opportunities for those pursuing them.  We’ll have to see if they continue to hang around after the big blow and cold temperatures later in the week.

Some decent pockets of Canada geese remain as well but this season closes on December 16th in the Northeast.

Southeast

Most of not all water remains locked up with cold setting in.  Unit 1 Canada goose season’s last day was December 16 but snow goose season is still open.  Some pockets of light geese continue to make use of larger lakes and area fields but numbers likely are on the decline after the strong storm that hit mid-week.

Sioux Falls/Lower Missouri River Area

Low Plains south has seen an increase in mallards following this week’s weather.  Good numbers of Canada geese are using Unit 2 areas along the river.  Remember that Unit 1 Canada goose season is over as of Wednesday, with Unit 2 open until February 13. 

Pierre Area

Things have remained about the same here in the Pierre area. Some of the Canada geese that are in Pierre have been flying out west towards the Hayes area.  Ducks on Oahe are feeding before and after shooting hours yet unless some weather has them moving. Not many geese on Oahe yet. Birds numbers appear to be about the same this week for Oahe and lake sharpe below Pierre. 

Western South Dakota

No report

Week of December 6-10

Northeast

Now that the cold has set in the Northeast, a lot of waterfowl have migrated out.  Most all waters are frozen over and we have gotten some snow on the ground as well.  Duck and white fronted goose seasons are now closed but Canada and snow geese remain open.  There are still some good pockets of snow geese remaining in the area and providing good opportunities for decoy hunting along with pass shooting.  Canada goose numbers are dwindling but there are also some decent pockets of birds in the area.  

Overall, opportunities remain for goose hunters in the Northeast, but it may be day by day now as they can leave anytime with the current conditions

Southeast

Most of not all water is ice covered in this area due to single digit lows for several days.  Most ducks have exited the area, but pockets of Canada geese and snow geese remain in larger lakes and area fields.  As of Tuesday, the Low Plains North and Middle zones and white front seasons are closed while Canada goose and snow goose seasons still open.  Snow is forecast for late in the week and may further push what waterfowl that remain out of the area.  Things are winding down waterfowl wise in the area.

Sioux Falls/Lower Missouri River Area

This cold snap we had early this week really moved the birds around a lot.  Almost all the small-medium sized water is frozen.  There is still some large bodies with open pockets with open water but a lot of them froze fast even with birds on them.  We have been seeing A LOT of high-flying migrating flocks of Canadas and snows pushing south.  Hunters can still find good groups of Canada geese to hunt until season closes.  There is still some good pockets of snow geese west and north of here that can be hunted.  The snow goose juvie numbers are very good this year and most field hunters are having VERY high success rates with decoying snow geese in fields.

We still really haven’t seen the push/heavy amount of mallards like we do in years past around here.  The late season spots in the SE finally have good number of Canada geese on them.

It sounds like the MO river down in the SE picked up a ton of birds early this week when everything froze. LC lake is holding a lot of birds, as is the river itself.  Hunting should be good down there for the next week or 2 with the warmer temps coming after this next snowfall tonight.

Pierre Area

The Pierre area picked up a few more Canada geese this week but they are staying in town enjoying the warm weather while grazing on the lawns within the city limits.

There have been some reports of more geese also moving in downstream of Pierre.  

The duck numbers on Lake Oahe picked back up after the cold snap froze up the smaller lakes in the area however hunting opportunities for them is limited to those hunting on the water since they have remained on the water during shooting hours.  Lake Oahe also gained a few small flocks of geese; however, the area has not seen a real migration of birds from the north yet.    

Western South Dakota

No report

Week of November 29-December 3

Northeast

Duck numbers in the Northeast have remained fairly steady over the last week with some large concentrations of mallards staging up on the big waters.  Other puddle duck numbers are low with most migrating south due to the waters icing up the last couple weeks.  Some pintail, gadwall, and green-winged teal can still be found.  Diving duck numbers are low as well with the frozen state of most waters.  The ducks that are here are keeping areas open mainly on the big water.  With that being said, warm weather this week has been deteriorating the ice and more open water is available by the day so ducks are dispersing some.

Hunters targeting corn fields are having mixed success depending on the day and if the ducks are going out to feed before sundown.  Windy days have been better to get the ducks moving.
Weather this week has been warm with highs in the mid 40’s to near 60 degrees.  The extended forecast does not look to be severe enough to move many mallards out.  There is no snow cover so ample food supplies are available.

Snow goose numbers are very high right now with large concentrations found throughout the Northeast.  Geese are also using the large water bodies to roost and feeding in area fields.  Great opportunity exists right now for both pass shooting and decoy hunting.  Canada geese remain strong in numbers and are also hitting the corn fields.  Very few swans have been seen this past week as most have left.

Overall, great opportunity for waterfowl hunters in the Northeast right now.  Duck season closes on December 7th in the Northeast while Canada geese closes on December 16th , white-fronted geese closes on December 7th.  Snow geese will close on January 7.

East Central  
And the rollercoaster in temperature continues.
As of mid-week most wetlands and lakes began to open back up with highs in the 50’s and 60’s several days.  Lake Thompson has remained completely open north of the Oldham grade Monday with good numbers of divers seen.  Light goose number are at or near peak with concentrations near any large staging areas. 

Canada goose numbers remain high with birds bunched up into large flocks on area lakes.

Mallard numbers across the area are good with most birds remaining in large flocks on big water.

A cool down is in store for next week with lows in the teens and highs in the 30’s that should begin the lockup.

A reminder that duck season in the low plains north and middle zones close on December 7th while Canada geese closes on December 16th, white-fronted geese closes on December 7th.  Snow geese will close on January 7.

Sioux Falls/Lower Missouri River Area
It’s been pretty quiet down in the SE.

Average Canada goose numbers, but the big mallard push is not down this far yet.  Snow goose numbers are very slowly building.  The birds are still only mostly feeding in the evenings and right at sunset.  Most hunters who are having success are people hunting water or hunting snows in the fields.  

The MO river has been VERY slow with hardly any good reports coming from down there.

All water is currently open with this warm spurt we are having.  

Pierre Area
The Pierre area remains slow for much of a migration. A few Canada geese have moved into town the past couple of weeks, but they have remained in town grazing on grass on the softball, football and baseball fields along with the grass around the capitol complex. There has been a small migration of mallards on Lake Oahe which gives those hunting on the water an opportunity since they have not been out to feed during legal shooting hours. Reports from below Pierre are that there are a few smaller pockets of geese however there are no reports from hunters.  There are good numbers of geese towards Chamberlain and south not sure about hunting success. 


Western South Dakota
No report

Week of November 22-26

Northeast

Mallard numbers remain strong in the Northeast.  Recent cold temperatures and northerly winds have contributed to large concentrations of mainly mallards staging up on the larger water bodies.  Green winged teal and pintail are present as well.  Diving duck numbers are fair on the large lakes.  Some large water bodies remain ice free but can change by the day.  Single digit lows are forecasted for mid-week so more ice will develop.

Snow Goose numbers are very high in the area and great opportunity exist for both decoying and pass shooting.  Canada goose are still strong as well.

There are some swans in the area but with the cold temps and icing, they may push through quickly.

East Central  
Birds are on the move this week.

Most shallow wetlands and small lakes are iced over with large lakes remaining at least partially open.  Light goose number are very strong near any large staging areas. 

Mallard numbers are good, and mallards remain in large flocks on big lakes.

The Lake Thompson area has good numbers of divers where open water exists, and the lake itself is open north of the Oldham grade.

Warm windy weather forecast next week may open up additional water and should allow birds to hang around.

Few swans have been observed in the region and most have likely migrated east towards wintering grounds.

Sioux Falls/Lower Missouri River Area
No report

Pierre Area
No report

Western South Dakota
No report

Week of November 15-19

Northeast
A large influx of both ducks and geese has occurred this week.  With strong NW winds and cold temperatures, birds were on the move all week.  Mallard numbers have increased dramatically and can be found on the bigger waters throughout the Northeast. 

They are hitting the corn consistently now along with providing great water hunting.  Decent numbers of pintails around as well.  Other puddle ducks look to be on the decline with the ice and cold.  Diving ducks are pretty solid on the big water.  Some goldeneye and mergansers are showing up.

Snow geese really came in this week and large numbers can be found throughout.  Canada goose numbers are also strong with more arriving daily.  Some whitefronts around but most have left.

Swans have been migrating down and you will find more in the northern counties but there are birds to the south too.

East Central
The large storm system that hit late last week into the weekend definitely moved birds. Good numbers of mallards can be seen across the region, mainly tied to larger bodies of water as most small and many mid-sized wetlands are icing up.  Further icing is expected over the weekend with lows in the teens on Sunday morning.   

Numbers of gadwall, wigeon, green wing teal, pintail, northern shovelers numbers are dropping with the increase in ice.  Large lakes and wetlands still have good numbers of divers rafting up on them. 

Some swans should be available in Kingsbury, Hamlin and Deuel Counties but may not hang around for long.

Canada goose numbers are good, and a large influx of light geese is in progress.  Most whitefronts have exited to parts further south.  Field conditions should be good this weekend with brisk winds drying out fields all week.

Southeast 
Picked up a lot of new Canada geese in the area after that cold front last weekend.  Snow numbers are also slowly increasing in the northern part of the area.  Most whitefronts have pushed out of the area.  Mallard numbers are slowly increasing, but nowhere near peak yet that I have seen.  A lot of the normal late season spots are starting to finally pick up the normal number of birds.

Most of the small water bodies iced over the last couple nights, so that should help concentrate birds.  
Overall, the hunting has been very tough for field hunters (myself and several others I have talked to).  The birds are not consistently feeding in mornings and the evening flights have been mostly after sunset.  

Lower River
Seeing more waterfowl in the SE.  The ponds that are not froze over are holding decent numbers of Canada Geese and mallards.  
The Lewis and Clark Lake delta has been fairly slow with low numbers of birds.  The Missouri River below Gavin’s Point Dam has been slow as well.  Waiting on colder weather up north for the Low Plains South zone.

Pierre Area
Have had a couple of reports from hunters saying they are seeing more ducks on a few of the GPAs east of Pierre.  Had a report of some lesser Canada geese stopping on the river east of Pierre not big numbers but at least a start for that area. 

There have been some duck hunters using boats on the river below Pierre having some success depending on how much activity the area is seeing from other hunters and fishermen. 
Not much has changed in the Pierre area up on Lake Oahe. No reports of a migration into the area of ducks of geese. We did see some smaller Canada and white front geese moving through headed south in the high winds last week.  

West River
No report

Week of November 8-12

Northeast
Ducks in the northeast are building with some good concentrations of mallards coming in.  Other puddle ducks are on the move mainly heading for warmer spots south.  Still good numbers of gadwall, green winged teal, wigeon, and pintails but this may change with this weather system rolling in. 

Mallards are starting to field feed more and will likely increase this behavior as the winds pick up and temperatures drop.  The weather is going to turn nasty later this week with strong NW winds and some snow so as good push of birds is expected.   Snow goose numbers are building by the day and some good flocks can be found throughout the northeast.  Canada goose numbers remain strong and now is a great opportunity to chase dark geese.  Swans remain in the northern tier of counties, but some are showing up further south. 

Crop harvest remains steady so ample field hunting opportunities are available.  Overall it looks to be a good week for waterfowlers.

East Central
A The week started warm, calm and sunny with little movement, but large changes are afoot.  A powerful system will hit the region late Thursday brining strong NW winds and 1-3 inches of snow.  As of Wednesday, all water had reopened but smaller wetlands will again freeze beginning Friday morning. 

Numbers of gadwall, wigeon, green wing teal, pintail, northern shovelers numbers remain good but are likely past peak numbers and will continue to decline as shallow wetlands freeze.  Mallard numbers are building across the region and have been observed field feeding in greater numbers.  Diver numbers are still high on larger wetlands and lakes.   

No swans were observed again this week, but swan migration should be happening now.

Canada goose numbers are good, some white fronts are still hanging around and light goose numbers are building quickly.  Corn harvest and what is left for bean harvest is still full speed ahead. Moderate rain on Wednesday may make fields sloppy for a day or so.  

Southeast 
Not a large concentration of mallards yet, but some areas are holding good numbers on roosts. Birds have been feeding early morning before shooting time sometimes and right at sunset during clear conditions, making hunting success tough in fields. Still a good number of green wing teal, pintails, wigeons around on water bodies. All water is still wide open. 

Still fair amount of white fronts around on roosts.  Canada numbers are little below what we should have by now. No big groups of snow geese seen. 

With the coming front tonight/tomorrow, we should see a big push of new birds into the area.

Lower River
No report

Pierre Area
No report

West River
No report

Week of November 1-5

Northeast

We saw some pretty cold overnight lows this past week and a lot of the small waters froze which pushed the ducks to different areas.  Lows in the teens to low 20’s with calm winds locked up a lot of the newly flooded shallow waters.  I don’t think the ducks left but rather grouped up on open waters throughout the area.  Temperatures are going to rebound, and these waters should open back up again so the ducks may return.  

There are starting to be some good concentrations of diver ducks on the big lakes with scaup, redheads, buffleheads and ringnecks making up the bulk.  Some canvasbacks are here as well just not great numbers yet.  Puddle duck numbers are solid right now with gadwall, wigeon, shovelers, pintails and mallards using the area.  With the recent cold snap we had, ducks did move to the bigger water but recently started returning to the shallower wetlands as the ice retreated.  Some afternoon mallard feeds have been observed as well.  Overall, for ducks, good opportunity exists right now in the Northeast part of the state.

Canada goose numbers remain strong with more geese seen this past week.  Geese seem to be using the harvested corn fields the most.  Snow geese and whitefronts are around and good opportunity for whitefronts exists while snow geese are just arriving, so numbers are building.

Few swans have been observed thus far but reports are better in the northern counties where some migration in has occurred.

As for the crop harvest, conditions are wet but the harvest is back in full swing so many more fields are coming out by the day and the table is set for the arriving migrants.

East Central

Several nights in the lower 20’s iced over shallow wetlands and sheet water pushing birds at least temporarily to bigger water.  By late in the week lows were above freezing, leading to most water re-opening.  

Numbers of gadwall, wigeon, green wing teal, pintail, northern shovelers numbers remain good and mallard numbers are building.  Diver numbers are defiantly increasing on larger wetlands and lakes.   Hopefully we will hit a sweet spot for a while where new ducks keep building but weather doesn’t push significant birds out.  The 10-day forecast looks promising, with stable weather followed by a significant cold front late next week.

A warm, dry, and calm weekend is in the forecast which might make things a bit difficult for hunters. No swans were observed this week, but swan migration should be happening now.

Canada goose numbers are good, as are white fronts, light goose numbers are slowly increasing.  Corn harvest and what is left for bean harvest has resumed and field conditions should be much drier this weekend for field hunters.

Southeast 

Definite increase of puddle ducks and divers. No real large concentration of mallards yet. Still lot of specks around and some good Canada numbers. Unit 2 opened up this week and some good hunts were had locally. 

Lower River

Reports of limited activity and low bird numbers on the lower river this week.

Pierre Area

Not much for changes here. Checked with a CO East of here and he reported things are the same as last week other than there was a migration last weekend and early this week of cranes and some snow geese. He didn’t know of any that came low enough to land or of any staying if they did. North of here had some white fronts and snow geese last week but no reports on if they are still there. Nothing happening in the Pierre area other than some high-flying migrating birds going over early this week. 

West River

Duck numbers are picking up on the bigger waters in the nw.  Orman had pretty good mix of divers and puddle ducks

Geese are flocking up and have seen some migrants heading south

Week of October 25-29

Northeast

The migration is progressing a little faster now as we close in on November.  When the wind blows from the north, many flocks of geese have been seen pushing south.  Whitefronts and snow geese are moving into the area as well as riding the winds farther south.  Ducks are also on the move and migrants are arriving daily now.  Some good concentrations of gadwall and wigeon can be found on the wetlands and more and more divers are showing up on the big water.  Mallard numbers are still a little low but building slowly.  There are some good pockets of ducks around and with all the rain we have gotten lately, they are finding these secluded flooded spots.  Some flooded crops have developed in the last couple weeks providing mallard action.  Overall, the calendar ducks are here and the mallards are moving in.

Goose numbers remain good in the area and more opportunities arrive daily with the Arctic migrants coming in.  

The crop harvest really has slowed too almost nothing with how wet it currently is.  Please use caution if driving in fields as it is wet!

The weather appears like it is going to get cold next week so this may change things dramatically as many of the shallow ponds will freeze for a while and move the ducks around to the bigger waters but should also push more birds into the area.

East Central

Numbers of gadwall, wigeon, green wing teal, pintail, northern shovelers numbers remain strong in the area. Another cold front early in the week brought between .5-1.5 inch of rain keeping fields wet and muddy.   Mallard numbers looked steady but expect some additional movement next week as temperatures at night dip into the mid 20’s.  A few more divers seemed to be around this week.   

Canada goose numbers in this area have increased from last week, several small groups of light geese were also seen field feeding.  Corn harvest continues to proceed slowly with recent rains across the area, harvested fields look pretty wet.

Wetlands continue to gain water with many ducks utilizing new water in crop fields.

Weather conditions over the next 10 days indicate a cool down with small water potentially starting to ice up by mid-week.  Look for good potential of new birds if we get a north wind.  Hunters with swan tags should also expect swan movement into the area as small wetlands to the north begin to freeze.

Southeast

No report

Lower River

No report

Pierre Area

Starting to see more ducks moving onto the lakes and sloughs on GPA’s throughout the Pierre area.                                                                                                                                                     

Several of the Game Production Areas east of Pierre have seen an increase of ducks consisting mainly of, gadwall, wigeon, green wing teal, pintail, northern shovelers.  There have also been reports of more divers showing up on some of these areas. 

The mallard numbers in the areas checked this week have remained very low.  Also had a couple of reports of whitefronts and cranes on some areas earlier this week too, it is uncertain if they are still in these areas or if they have moved on south.  No reports have come on much activity on the river system from duck hunters.  

West River

No report

Week of October 18-22

Northeast

We started off the week on the warm side followed by a mid week all day rain with some areas in the Northeast getting over 1.5” and ending the week on the cooler side.  With that being said, duck activity remains similar to the previous week.  The bigger waters are seeing some buildup of divers like redhead, canvasback, buffleheads, and some scaup showing up.  There are good pockets of northern pintail and mallards scattered around with little field feeding activity reported.  The one exception would have been on Wednesday with the rain and wind where some field feeding occurred.  Field conditions are muddy right now and some low areas are holding water.  Decent numbers of gadwall, wigeon, shovelers, and green-winged teal can be found using area wetlands.

Canada goose numbers remain strong and providing ample opportunities for hunters chasing them.  Decent numbers of whitefronts can also be found throughout the Northeast portion of the state as well.  Some snow geese are here but just the leading edge of the migration.

A few swans are rolling into the northern counties and will continue to build in the next couple of weeks.

Crop harvest has slowed with the recent rains but should resume within a day or so.  A lot of the beans are out and a fair chunk of corn has been taken out

East Central

Numbers of gadwall, wigeon, green wing teal, pintail, northern shovelers numbers continue to build in the area. A strong cold front mid-week brought between .5-1 inch of rain to this region keeping the fields and roads wet.   I did decent pockets of both mallards throughout and a few swans in Kingsbury County.  Some lesser scaup, redheads, buffleheads, and ringnecks were seen indicating that divers have started to migrate.  

Canada goose numbers in this area continue to be strong, increased numbers of whitefronts and a few more snow geese were observed.  Corn harvest is proceeding slowly with recent rains across the area, harvested fields look pretty wet.

Wetlands appear to be up again some from last week with many ducks utilizing new water.

Weather conditions over the next 10 days indicate above normal temperatures with periodic chances for rain, still no danger of icing over wetlands.

Southeast

We have seen a good push of new birds this week. Good number of whitefronts and some new Canada's showing up, especially today. 

Not a ton of ducks yet, but some good pintail and green winged teal numbers along with some good pockets of new mallards. Cold nights are definitely helping. 

Lower River

No report

Pierre Area

Not a lot of changes in most of the areas. 

Ducks have been had to hunt on several public waters with most hunters looking for some new bird activity in the area. 

Have had a few reports of white fronts on some lake beds in a few counties in north central part of the state. One report of some cranes on a slough earlier this week. Not sure if the cranes have stayed after the rain and colder temperatures. 

West River

No change from last report

Week of October 11-15

Northeast

The migration has started to slowly materialize in the Northeast.  More ducks have been observed this past week moving into the area.  Gadwall, wigeon and northern shovelers have been increasing in numbers along with some pockets of divers on the larger waters.  Redheads, canvasbacks and buffleheads are showing up.  Some good pockets of mallards and pintails can be found as well on the wetlands along with the agricultural fields.  Some field feeding activity has been observed but overall with the nicer weather we have had, most of the action is over water.

Goose hunting remains steady in the area with strong populations of Canada geese.  Patterning these geese can be a little hit and miss as they have many options for food right now and may not be hitting the same fields every day.  White-fronted geese have been showing up as well and providing some action.  It appears the whitefronts have just started coming in this past week so hopefully more will be showing up shortly.

Temperatures this past week have been closer to seasonal and we have received a couple of good shots of rain.  Last Saturday’s storm dumped anywhere from 1-4”+ throughout the Northeast portion of the state.  Another rain took place mid-week so things are wet right now and the wetlands are filling up again.  Ducks have been observed using these newly flooded spots to take advantage of the food source provided.  Crop harvest has basically stopped this week due to the wet conditions.  Please be mindful of these conditions and be respectful of the land you are hunting on.

East Central

A series of storm fronts over the past week have started getting birds on the move.  Good numbers of gadwall, wigeon, green wing teal, and northern shovelers were seen. I also saw decent pockets of both mallards and northern pintail throughout the region.  Some lesser scaup, redheads, buffleheads, and ringnecks were seen indicating that divers have started to migrate.  

 Northern shovelers get a bad rap but are very closely related to blue winged and cinnamon teal.  Few ducks can match the beauty of a fully decked out drake shoveler.  They are abundant, decoy readily and are good table fare on the northern plains.  Also, try to watch them feeding collectively spinning in circles creating a vortex in the water which is thought to concentrate food.   

Canada goose numbers in this area continue to be strong, with groups of whitefronts and a few snow geese observed.  Corn harvest is at a bit of a standstill with recent rains across the area, harvested fields look pretty wet.  No tundra swans were seen but should be filtering down soon.

Wetlands appear to be up some from last week with some ducks utilizing new water.

Weather conditions over the next 10 days indicate relatively stable, warm weather with no danger of icing over wetlands.

Southeast

We have seen some whitefronts down here as well. Not much for new ducks that I have seen though yet. 

I think a good chunk of the local Canada geese here moved south because we are pretty stale. 

Lower River

Groups of Sandhill cranes and white fronts have been observed.  Its calendar duck season with wigeon, gadwall, and shovelers building in numbers.

Pierre Area

For the most part things have remained similar to last week. We saw flocks of white fronts and cranes migrating for a few days but haven’t heard of anything on the ground here. No solid report from Hyde and Hand Counties but know they were seeing migrating birds early this week too. 

Heard of some smaller flocks of snows and white fronts between Selby and Ipswich area on some sloughs. 

West River

No change from last report

Week of October 4-8

Northeast

Similar to a broken record, it’s the same thing over and over again in regard to waterfowl movement.  Warm weather with southernly winds has not helped in building up any duck numbers in the area.  We are in a stagnant pattern right now with most of the ducks bunching up on places with minimal hunting pressure and not a lot of movement with the 80 degree/sunny temperatures this past week.  Hunters are still shooting a mixed bag of species on area wetlands and some are getting some action in harvested fields as well.  The one thing that did change some is the movement of blue-winged teal out the area.

Goose hunting is still providing good opportunity as numbers remain strong in the Northeast.  We have seen some difficult hunting conditions this past week with the warm weather and the geese have not always left the water to go feed.

Wetland conditions are decent in the eastern portion of the region with the late summer/early fall rains we have had.  Some temporary wetlands have appeared again, and the ducks are utilizing this food source.

With this kind of weather, the crop harvest is pushing forward at an accelerated pace so more and more field hunting opportunities are becoming available.

East Central

Little has changed since last week with regards to waterfowl migration and numbers.  We continue to lose of blue winged teal in the area with very few observed in recent days.  The above normal, stable weather pattern is creating stale duck conditions with very little movement.  As always scouting is key with better success in less disturbed areas.  Look for a push of ducks ahead of the next large cold front.  

Canada goose numbers in this area continue to be good, corn harvest is progressing and seems ahead of schedule providing good field hunting opportunities for both ducks and geese. 

Southeast

No change

Lower River

No change from last report

indication in their profile that they have purchased the stamp and can begin hunting as soon as it is purchased.  The actual stamp will be mailed to them.

Pierre area

We have continued to see decent numbers of ducks on several of the Game Production Areas in the Low Plains units. 

The goose numbers on the public waters I visited this week were low but they could have been out to feed or sitting where I could not see them. 

The High Plains duck unit opens October 9 so a lot of the GPA’s throughout Region 2 will be busy between waterfowl hunters and pheasant hunters out for the resident pheasant season.

Not much to report for ducks in the High Plains unit around Pierre and I have not had any reports from north or south here.

West River

No change from last report

Week of September 27-Oct 1

Northeast

Things have not changed much over the week other than the birds have moved off of much of the public water and concentrated on waters not being hunted.  There are still good numbers of ducks in the Northeast part of the state with a mixture of species.

Goose numbers remain strong and there are great opportunities across the region to harvest geese.  Geese have been observed feeding in both corn and soybean fields as of late.

Crop harvest continues to push forward with more crops coming out by the week.  The harvest appears to be ahead of schedule with the drier conditions.

East Central

Conditions are similar to last week although as I type locally heavy rain is falling over portions of the area.  We seem to have lost a fair number of blue winged teal but modest numbers should still provide opportunity for bonus blue winged teal this weekend.  Decent numbers of mallards and pintail were observed this week along with some gadwall, wigeon, and northern shovelers.  As always scouting is key with better success in less disturbed areas.

Canada goose numbers in this area continue to be good, bean harvest is wrapping up and corn harvest is ahead of schedule. 

Problems with the bird banding lab reporting servers last weekend caused issues with reporting bands.  If you harvested a banded bird recently and had difficulty reporting, you band please try again.  This information is crucial to migratory bird management.

Southeast

SE waterfowl hunters had a good opening weekend.  Canada Goose numbers are high and Conservation Officers reported good opening day success.  Conditions will be similar to what they were on the opening weekend.  Hunters are always encouraged to report any violations they see by calling the TIPS Hotline at 1-888-OVERBAG.

Lower River

No change from last report

indication in their profile that they have purchased the stamp and can begin hunting as soon as it is purchased.  The actual stamp will be mailed to them.

Pierre Area

No change from last report

West River

No change from last report

Week of September 20-24

Northeast

With this weekend kicking off the duck opener, hunters should expect to see decent to good numbers of ducks on area wetlands.  There are still fair/good numbers of blue-winged teal around and will provide hunters with fast action.  Some movement of wigeon and gadwall have also been observed moving into the northeast.  Mallards, wood ducks and northern pintail are hitting some sileage fields so there will also be the field hunting options.

Canada goose numbers remain strong providing great opportunities for hunters chasing geese.  

Wetland conditions in the Northeast are decent with some having mudflats between the water and vegetation but overall the water levels have come up with the late summer rains.  Many temporary wetlands remain dry so scouting again is key to having a successful hunt.

Crop harvest is starting in the region with beans coming out along with sileage.  Some corn has been getting combined as well so opportunities exist.

East Central

Hunters should expect lower water levels in wetlands due to summer drought.  The drawdown that occurred this summer is a necessary part of the prairie wetland cycle, releasing nutrients, promoting vegetation growth, and ultimately making wetlands more productive for ducks.  What water remains should help to concentrate birds.  In addition, many wetlands that were too deep to hunt are now several feet lower making them more attractive to ducks and easier for hunters to access.

Local production of ducks appears to have been reasonably good despite a dry summer.  Strong numbers of blue and green wing teal and decent pockets of mallards have been seen in Brookings, Hamlin, Kingsbury, and Lake counties.  With dry conditions west of the James River higher than average northern pintails are also of note.  

Canada goose numbers in this area are good and an expedited harvest of corn should provide ample fields to scout.  The low plains north and middle duck zones open this weekend, good luck and get out scouting!

Southeast

The SE has been obviously been dry this summer.  A many of the regular water holes that people are used to hunting are completely dried up.  This is condensing the ducks and geese.  We have had some good late summer rains that are adding water to some of the dried-up holes and even flooding crops in a few localized areas.  

Duck numbers appear to be lower than this time in years past.  The local ducks that we do have are very concentrated to the existing water.  Youth season had great numbers of blue wing teal around.  There is still good numbers of teal around for hunters for opening weekend.  The local population of big ducks in the SE is down from last year.

Combine the dry summer with less nesting areas for geese and high hunting pressure during August season, the September goose season appeared to be less successful than other years.  The goose hunts over water are harder to come by this year.  Early harvest of crops has provided more opportunity for field hunts though.  We have had a decent push of some new geese come into the general area over the last couple weeks.  

Lower River

While water levels are low, and many small potholes have dried up in the southeast corner of the state there is still good duck hunting opportunity available.  Large concentrations of teal are being observed and opening day success should be good.  Scouting is a must as competition for available wetlands is high 

There are have been reports that hunters are having a hard time locating the Federal Duck Stamp.  This stamp is available for purchase on-line with the SD Game, Fish and Parks.  Hunters will receive an indication in their profile that they have purchased the stamp and can begin hunting as soon as it is purchased.  The actual stamp will be mailed to them.

Pierre Area

I have had a couple of reports early this week from the crew about seeing ducks on several of the lakes in the low plains middle zone in Hyde, Hand and Sully Counties.

No reports from the eastern parts of Potter, Walworth and Campbell County but will assume their duck populations and activity are the same as the other areas mentioned.

The extremely dry conditions have caused a lot of the smaller bodies of water where we typically see the early season ducks on to dry up which has moved the ducks onto the larger bodies of water. 

West River

Extremely dry out here especially in the northern part of the region.  Most ponds are dry.  

Am seeing some birds on available water. Green wing teal, blue winged teal, and Wigeon are the primary birds with a smattering of other puddlers.  No divers to speak of.  Geese are scattered about and feeding in ag fields