60 Days a year! This may seem like an eternity to most, but to a waterfowl hunter it goes by way too fast. From the week of Thanksgiving till the end of January, we find it very important that we use our time wisely and make the most of every moment whenever given the opportunity. Living in the south, warm weather is a serious problem for us. Whether we are low on water or just simply not seeing the number of birds that we would like it all falls back to warmer weather conditions. Scouting in the early season is very important, but knowing the history of birds from previous seasons can prove to be a vital key to hunting waterfowl during the early season. Hunting the early season close to home is not really a good option for us. This is why we spend most of our time on the road. Living in south Louisiana I guess you could say we live at the bottom of the flyway. When we don’t have the birds and the cold weather we are pretty much left with only one option, drive north!
King of the road! That pretty much sums up how we feel for the first month of the hunting season, simply because that is when we do most of our traveling. North Mississippi, Arkansas and even the southern half of Missouri may show up on our GPS at any given time. You have to go where the birds are. By the time Christmas rolls around we are completely burnt out on gas station pizza and hot dogs and would give anything for a home cooked meal. I have always been amazed at how fast birds move from one location to another. One day you can have a field holding anywhere from 15 to 20 thousand geese. Over night there can be a slight change in weather and wind and the next day you will not see a bird for miles. The only thing that is consistent about the first month of the season is change, but then again that is what makes the migration so interesting. Keeping our bags packed and our gas tanks full is about the only sure thing that takes place during the month of December!
White Fronted geese can almost be a sure thing at the start of the season. From the start of November I can’t even begin to tell you how many times a day I look at the weather app on my cell phone. I don’t care if my truck is broke down and I have no means of travel. If you call and tell me you have a rice field covered with Specks I will be at the nearest shoe store the next morning and will Forest Gump it to wherever you’re at! Barred up chests and yodels over the horizon tend to make the hair of my neck stand up. Now don’t get me wrong I love breaking those high ball migrating mallards, but I would much rather fire up the BBQ pit with some fresh Specklebelly breast! We don’t see many Specks here in south Louisiana, but when reports start coming in that they have arrived in the northern part of the state and Arkansas I can assure you that Haley and I are trying to figure out ways to get away from work!
Low hunting pressure and resident birds make for heavy hauling straps during the first month. Whether you are hunting public land or private, if you can find birds that have been in the area that have not been hunted yet you have basically found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Sometimes these birds have been around from the previous year. No real predators and if the food source is plenty they probably have no intention of leaving. Now I understand a honey hole like this is few and far between, but if you luck up and find one my advice is to hunt it as much as possible until your luck runs out. If not, the next hunter that finds it will! The word of mouth travels fast these days, especially with the help of social media. I’ve been saying that tools like Facebook have helped the sport of waterfowl hunting because of the opportunities of meeting new people and hunting new ground. With that being said, I also believe it has hurt the sport and has taken away from the hunter that puts in all the work of scouting and preparation.
Haley and I cover a lot of miles every year. We love being able to hunt our own property, but that is just something that we are not able to do all season if we want to harvest birds. We may not always agree on everything, but chasing weather fronts and flocks of birds just so happens to be something of mutual interest! Every year the anticipation of the season builds for 9 to 10 months. Dreams of birds raining down on us night after night as we just try to make it through another year of the offseason. It would be a shame for us to waste any time and not take advantage of every opportunity as possible. During the migration, we can pretty much be found anywhere up and down the flyway. You just never know where you may run into us at, but if I had to guess there will probably be birds in the area!