Mississippi duck hunters are as jubilant and confident as they’ve been in decades going into the final and major part of duck season, which opened statewide on Wednesday.
“So far, it’s been great,” said Jacob Sartain of Madison, who hunts the southern Delta near Louise. “Those first two splits were as good as I can ever remember. We had two great weekends and now that the main season is here, and we have another massive cold front coming, I think we’re going to see a heavy migration push again.”
Mississippi has had two three-day weekend splits Nov. 22-24 and Nov. 29-Dec. 1. There were mixed results, according to state wildlife officials, but overall it was better than normal for that early in the season.
“Actually, the best hunt we had was that first split and even the youth day (Nov. 16), thanks to the freakish November cold fronts we had,” said James Callicutt, waterfowl biologist for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. “I think those fronts kick-started the migration well ahead of schedule up north and we had a lot of ducks in the state.
“Bad weather kept us from making our first aerial surveys in November, but we’ve heard from a lot of hunters that the hunting has been above average and our wildlife management hunts were good.”
Sartain’s reports are off the charts.
“That first split, on opening day, we killed 20 mallards and were actually passing on teal and gadwall to wait for mallards,” he said. “That’s unusual for mid November, for sure. We were tickled. Then the next split, the weather wasn’t as good but we still got 15 mallards on Friday morning.
“Thing is, we’ve got plenty of ducks here now, far more than normal, and we haven’t even seen the main part of the mallard migration yet. Hopefully, with this major cold front coming in this week, either Thursday or Friday, then it will push more mallards in here.”
Callicutt said that was possible, since he has heard reports that the main part of the mallard migration had reached Missouri and beyond.
“If Missouri’s bootheel gets the kind of temperatures they’re talking about this weekend, in the teens, then that will lock it up and we will really start seeing mallards moving south toward Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana,” the biologist said. “I’m telling you that this has been what you’d have to call an ideal fall for bird migration.
“We had two serious cold fronts in November and we had a lot wetter October and November than normal so our habitat is plentiful. If we can get ducks in here, we got the habitat to hold them.”
Mississippi’s duck season continues through Jan. 26.