ST. JOSEPH Mo -- Despite hot and dry conditions in late summer, most wetland areas managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) in the state’s northwest region will be in good shape for the fall duck season.
Duck season in the state’s north zone opens Oct. 29 and closes Dec. 27.
At conservation areas that offer public hunting, both natural foods in moist-soil areas and field crops are at least fair and in some places they’re good to excellent, wildlife managers say. Food attracts ducks.
There is one exception to good conditions. The Bob Brown Conservation Area near Forest City in the Missouri River bottoms was flooded this summer. Marshes on the area that are not within refuge zones will be open for hunting, said Craig Crisler, area manager. But the flooding destroyed all food and cover plants in the marshes.
“There’s no place for hunters to hide, and there’s no habitat for ducks to feed or rest in,” Crisler said. “It’s going to be like hunting on a big lake.”
The main parking lot is open and hunters will be able to pick up brochures with regulations for the area. Interior roads will be opened when possible. There will not be any morning draws for hunting positions, instead, hunters will check themselves in daily at an outdoor information area near headquarters. The headquarters building is not open.
Hunters should also be cautioned that rains could make some flood-damaged gravel roads in the area soft and impassable, Crisler said. Also, Missouri River levees in the area are still breached. If heavy rains raise the river this fall, county road access to the area could be closed.
The outlook is far brighter at other MDC-managed wetlands.
Good food for migrating ducks and geese will be available in wetlands at the Nodaway Valley Conservation Area northeast of Oregon, Mo. Marsh conditions overall are in good shape for hunters, too.
“We should have good water levels,” Crisler said.
A major marsh renovation project is now complete at the Fountain Grove Conservation Area south of Meadville, Mo. Water conditions may be low in some areas early in the season but overall water conditions will be good with plenty of high-quality food available to attract ducks, said Chris Freeman, area manager. Some rains will be needed this fall to help flood some of the area’s northwest wetlands.
The Grand Pass Conservation Area northwest of Marshall, Mo., will be in good shape for ducks food, cover and water, Freeman said. Marshes are flooded with water pumped from the Missouri River. Food for waterfowl is plentiful.
“In general, the area is in pretty good shape,” he said.
Weather conditions help dictate waterfowl hunting success. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is predicting above average numbers of ducks migrating southward this fall due to a rainy spring that created good nesting conditions in northern plains states and Canada. Along with good conditions this fall on MDC areas in northwest Missouri, except for Bob Brown, hunters can be hopeful for a good season.