Ducks Numbers At All-Time Highs

Early winter weather could push ducks down earlier than normal.

The later the better, that’s how some duck hunters view the often painful wait for birds to show up in Georgia.

This year might be one of those rare seasons when waiting will mean missing out on some good duck hunting.

Greg Balcom, a WRD senior wildlife biologist and our state waterfowl biologist, is expecting a very good duck season, and he thinks ducks might show up early this year.

“I think we’re going to have a good season for a couple of reasons. First, the water situation for the most part is pretty good. The beaver ponds and reservoirs are in pretty good shape. It’s not so dry there’s no water, and it’s not too wet. The water situation is more normal,” Greg said.

“Last year was one of the wettest seasons we’ve had, and the ducks had so much water they were dispersed. If you look at the harvest numbers, it was lower. There were plenty of birds, but they were really scattered. The up side of that is that birds survived.”

Lots of ducks surviving last season meant lots of birds heading back north to breed, and they found good conditions this spring and summer.

“The breeding waterfowl surveys showed really good numbers for the species we see in Georgia. Wood ducks numbers were the highest since they started the survey,” Greg said.

Duck hunters know the big factor for good hunting is cold weather up North to push ducks to Georgia.

“I don’t remember a year when Buffalo, New York had 6 feet of snow in mid-November,” he said. “I saw a fair number of birds show up after that first big cold front, when it got so windy on that Saturday (Nov. 1).”

Greg said conditions at state-managed Oconee and Altamaha waterfowl areas look good.

Meanwhile, ducks are showing up at Lake Seminole. Duck-hunting guide Aaron Crews has a big advantage at Lake Seminole—he’s also a fishing guide. Aaron was on the water pretty much every day leading up to the duck opener.

Aaron called GON from the water on Nov. 6 to report an overnight influx of ducks.

“The birds are on the lake—not a lot, but they are arriving,” Aaron said. “This morning I saw canvasbacks, pintail, bluebill and a couple of redheads. The coots are here. The divers are getting here,” Aaron said. “I saw the first divers on Oct. 31.”

For limits and regulations, go to http://georgiawildlife.com/Hunting/Waterfowl. Georgia’s duck season is Nov. 22-30 and Dec. 6-Jan. 25.

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