Hunters killing fewer ducks and deer this season, but more quail

by Ed Godfrey Modified: January 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm •  Published: January 5, 2014

Duck hunting — like the weather — has been hot and cold this season.

“It's been a tough year weather-wise to figure out how to hunt them,” said Josh Richardson, migratory bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Richardson said there will be birds bunched together one day, then they will seemingly disappear the next.

An avid waterfowling friend of mine, Roy Loris, hunts all over the state and thinks the flyway is better west of I-35 this season, even though it has far less water than in the eastern half of the state.

Richardson agrees.

“It kind of almost seems like that,” Richardson said.

More duck food has been available out west with its rich agriculture fields, and less water means the birds are not spread as far. Canton and Fort Cobb lakes have been hot spots for hunting this season.

In eastern Oklahoma, state wildlife officials were unable to seed Japanese millet around lakes like they normally do because of summer flooding.

The high water also destroyed native vegetation, leaving places like Lake Eufaula, usually a place that offers excellent duck hunting, mediocre at best this season.

The Arkansas River and other river systems have provided the best duck hunting this year in eastern Oklahoma, as the moving water keeps rivers from freezing and food is normally nearby for the birds.

“It hasn't been a banner year (for duck hunting), but it hasn't been a bust,” said Jerry Shaw of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Goose hunting, however, has been excellent, and the daily bag limit for Canadian honkers increased to eight this season.

“There are geese everywhere,” Richardson said.

The last day of duck season in zone one is Jan. 19, and the final day of duck season in zone two is Jan. 26.

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