Will the ducks arrive on time?
That’s the question that’s on the mind of duck hunters in parts of Missouri and Kansas. With the Missouri Middle Zone and the Kansas Low Plains Late Zone set to open Saturday, waterfowl numbers are still below normal on managed marshes due to the mild weather that has delayed the fall migration.
But with the first blast of cold weather expected in the next few days, waterfowl managers are hoping the ducks are on their way.
“A significant cold front will be moving across the Midwest on Thursday and Friday, bringing the first hard frost to the region,” said Frank Nelson of the Missouri Department of Conservation. “It could begin to change Missouri’s duck numbers for the better.”
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Waterfowl counts this week show that duck numbers are still down. In Missouri’s Middle Zone, the Schell-Osage Conservation Area has only 93 ducks and Montrose has 870. The situation at Four Rivers is better, with 4,950 ducks counted.
In the Kansas Low Plains Late Zone, the situation isn’t much better. Tuttle Creek has 2,000 to 3,000 ducks, while Milford has 1,000 and Perry 350.
But again, that could change almost overnight if the colder weather triggers a major push of ducks into the region.
Catch of the week
John Havel won’t forget the maiden voyage of his new fishing boat at Wyandotte County Lake.
The first time on the water, just two weeks ago, he hooked into something big near the marina. When he finally got the fish in, he was surprised to set eyes on a trophy smallmouth bass.
He measured the fish at 20 inches, then posed for a few pictures before releasing it.
“I mostly fish for smallmouth and largemouth bass at Wyandotte,” said Havel, who lives in Kansas City, Kan. “Bass fishing has been great out there this year.
“I catch mostly largemouth bass in the marina cove, but the smallmouths are really coming on, too, both in size and numbers caught.”
Havel was using a River 2 See squarebill crankbait in 2 to 4 feet of water when the bass hit.
Missouri quail, pheasant seasons to start
Missouri quail and pheasant hunters will start the season Saturday with more hope than they have in recent years.
After a steady drop in bird and hunter numbers, there is a reason for optimism this fall. Surveys indicate that quail numbers are on the increase after an improved nesting season this spring. Pheasant numbers, however, remain low and ringnecks should continue to be hard to find.
The northwest and north-central regions should be the best places to hunt, with increased quail numbers.
For the youth
Missouri youth ages 6 to 15 will get first shot at deer this weekend, participating in the youth firearms season.
The special hunt, which will be Saturday and Sunday, will be in advance of the regular season, which opens Nov. 15.
Youths who are hunter-education certified can hunt on their own. Youngsters who do not have that certification must hunt in the immediate presence of an adult with the proper hunting licenses and hunter-education certification, unless exempt.
Adults can provide guidance, but they cannot shoot.
More kids stuff
Youngsters also will get a head start on adults in Kansas, when the youth pheasant and quail seasons are held Saturday and Sunday.
Hunters 16 and younger may participate, provided they are accompanied by an adult 18 or older.
Youths will be limited to two rooster pheasants and four quail daily, half the daily limit in the regular season. Accompanying adults can not pull the trigger.
Open house at Reed Area
The Missouri Department of Conservation wants to get your input on how the James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area is being managed.
The public will be able to provide feedback and ask questions at an open house from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Kansas City Regional Office, 12405 Ranson Road, Lee’s Summit.
The Department of Conservation is in the process of updating management plans for almost 1,000 conservation areas throughout Missouri.
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.