Archive for Sunday, October 16, 2005

State’s duck hot spots need rain quickly

October 16, 2005

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Duck season is under way in the High Plains and Early zones, with the Late Zone set for an Oct. 29 opening.

However, if the state does not receive significant rainfall soon, most public hunting in central and western Kansas may not hold ducks, even though good numbers are expected.

As of mid-October, Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area near Great Bend - one the state's most popular areas - had no water in any hunting pools.

Nearby Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is faring a little better. The area has a fair amount of water and approximately 27,000 ducks, but the salt flats are dry.

Farther north, conditions at Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge are poor, with little to no flooded timber, open flats or shoreline.

Prospects for duck hunting at Jamestown Wildlife Area, in Jewell County, "look a little grim," according to area manager Rob Unruh. All pools are either low, dry or being worked on. A recent 1-inch rain, however, may have improved prospects, depending on the timing and volume of the migration.

McPherson Wetlands Wild-life Area has few ducks and limited water. Like the other areas, until it receives significant rainfall, hunting prospects are poor to fair.

Texas Lake, west of Pratt, is a smaller area, but it has water because they are able to pump the pools prior to season opening.

In the east, habitat conditions look better. The water levels at Milford Wildlife Area, near Junction City, are good. The area had a good early teal season, and area manager Mark Mohler is pumping the hunting pools.

"Hunting should to be pretty good if we get the ducks," Mohler said.

John Redmond Reservoir also has good water levels, so hunters should expect this area to attract solid numbers of ducks throughout the season.

Some of the best hunting may be near the Missouri border. Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area, near Pleasanton, has abundant water. Hunters should be aware that much of the water may be concealed by standing vegetation, making attractive duck habitat.

Currently, there are few ducks on the area, but the season doesn't begin there until Oct. 29.

Nearby Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Area has limited waterfowl hunting because the only habitat is the river and a few oxbow lakes and farm ponds.

These, however, may attract fair numbers of ducks if the wildlife area has a good year.

Neosho Wildlife Area, near St. Paul, had a good teal season, but water levels have gone down since.

Area manager John Silovsky put it bluntly: "We need some rain. We've got some water now and about 3,000 ducks, but the refuge pool is extremely low. If we get rain, we can pump from the river, but we need precipitation to hold ducks."

All of this depends on the weather, so heavy precipitation during the long seasons could change prospects considerably, especially for later migrating ducks.

Also, the state's reservoirs should not be overlooked. Hunters should scout these areas, phone the area managers or check the Wildlife and Parks waterfowl reports online.

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