This mild weather might be welcome to most people, but not to Missouri duck hunters.
They’ll take cold, blustery weather any day. That’s what triggers the waterfowl migration, sending ducks streaming into the state.
But that hasn’t happened yet. With the Missouri duck season in the North Zone set to open Saturday, waterfowl numbers are behind what they usually are at this time of the year.
“Although birds could be widely distributed on a range of flooded ground on public and private ground, it appears the migration through Missouri is still in its early stages,” Frank Nelson of the Missouri Department of Conservation said in a report. “The mild weather through this weekend doesn’t look like it will improve things.”
A survey this week by the Department of Conservation found about 86,250 ducks across Missouri. That’s below the five-year average of 109,580 at this time of the year. Pintails made up 40 percent of ducks reported, while green-winged and blue-winged teal each accounted for 19 percent.
The low concentrations of ducks are especially noticeable at Missouri’s major national wildlife refuges in the North Zone. Swan Lake has only 300 ducks, while Squaw Creek has 8,421.
Among prime hunting areas in the zone, the Grand Pass Conservation Area has the highest total of ducks, 15,450. The Bob Brown Conservation Area is holding 6,870 birds and Fountain Grove has 3,500.
Youth will be served
Youngsters in select hunting zones in Missouri and Kansas will get first shot at ducks this weekend.
On Saturday and Sunday, hunters 15 and younger can take part in special hunts in the Missouri Middle Zone and the Kansas Low Plains Late Zone.
In each state, youth must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age and older, but the mentor can only provide guidance. No shooting allowed.
In Missouri, if a youth has not completed a hunter education course, the accompanying adult must have completed the classes and must possess the proper Missouri hunting permits unless the adult is exempt.
More kids stuff
This will also be a big weekend for young quail and pheasant hunters in Missouri. The youth upland bird season will take place Saturday and Sunday.
Youngsters ages 6 to 15 will take to the fields in hopes of of flushing gamebirds. Youth who are not hunter-education certified must hunt in the immediate presence of an adult who has a license and is hunter-education certified.
Is Kansas cougar country?
Another sighting of a mountain lion has been confirmed in Kansas.
A deer hunter in Labette County in the southeast part of the state was surprised to find a photo of a mountain lion on one of the trail cameras he had put out. It was the 10th mountain lion sighting verified by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism since 2007.
Wildlife officials think most of the mountain lions are young males passing through Kansas rather than establishing home ranges in the state.
Deer research meeting
A research project by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the University of Missouri to better understand the movement, reproduction and survival rates of deer in northwest Missouri will begin in January.
The basics of the program will be discussed at a public meeting at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Empire Prairie Community Building in Andrew County. The site is located on Missouri 48, eight miles west of King City, Mo.
In the project, biologists will capture deer, place GPS tracking collars on them, then release them and track their lifestyles. Plans call for the study area to include Nodaway, Gentry, Andrew and DeKalb counties. A similar study is planned for the deep Ozarks.
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.