As Saturday approaches, duck hunters across the state are busy preparing boats and decoys for the upcoming early duck season that will take place from Nov. 18-26.
Georgia’s WRD waterfowl biologist Greg Balcom was enthusiastic about the upcoming season as a whole.
“The numbers of birds we’re seeing right now is a little on the low side, but don’t let that fool you. The cooler weather should start bringing the ducks down in large numbers,” said Greg.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with Ducks Unlimited, estimates that 10.5 million mallard ducks will be in this year’s flight, down 3 million from last year, but still 34 percent above the long-term average.
Breeding population estimates for a few species popular in Georgia are in great shape when compared to long-term averages.
Gadwalls: 4.2 million birds, 111 percent above LTA (long term average from 1955-2016).
Green Winged Teal: 3.6 million birds, 70 percent above LTA.
Redheads: 1.1 million birds, 55 percent above LTA.
Northern Shovelers: 4.4 million birds, and 69 percent above LTA.
Thanks to some much-needed rain, Georgia’s duck habitat as a whole is looking much better for this season.
“This time last year, we were in a full-blown drought, but thanks to some heavy rains this summer, duck holes are full of water, and we’re seeing a really good seed crop,” said Greg.
Aaron Crews, who is a duck hunting guide on Lake Seminole, said he isn’t seeing the numbers of ducks he would like, but he expects that to change with a strong north wind.
“This warm weather has the duck activity a little on the slow side, but I’m still seeing some ducks out on the main lake, despite less than ideal conditions,” said Aaron.
An approaching cold front is expected to arrive Saturday in southwest Georgia, and Aaron is hopeful that with the cooler wind will come the ducks.
“Seminole is a great place to hunt ducks, especially later in the season. Redheads, blue winged teal, ringneck, and wood ducks are all plentiful,” Aaron said.
For a guided trip, you can reach Aaron at (229) 416-9294.
The coastal duck activity has been on the slow side, and David Newlin, a charter-boat captain who also guides ducks hunters out of Richmond Hill.
“It’s just been too warm, the water temperature is still above 60 degrees, and the ducks aren’t flying a whole lot,” said David.
Despite the conditions, he says he has been seeing some groups of teal, bluebills and scooters early in the mornings.
“If you want to kill a limit of birds this weekend, wood ducks are where the action will be. Head up the river, find a good slough, and get ready, because they are coming,” said David.
If you do make an early season trip to coastal Georgia, don’t forget your bug spray. David said as soon as the air temperature reaches 60 degrees, the sand gnats will do their best to tote you off.
If you’re interested in a guided hunt, give David a call at (912) 756-4563, and he will be glad to put you on some birds.