Move over turkey, this Thanksgiving isn’t all about you.
Make room for ducks.
Before many Mississippians sit down to their annual holiday meal with family and friends, they will have spent the early hours of the day in a water hole in the Delta. The state’s 60-day duck season opens Thanksgiving Day and runs through Jan. 25.
For once, waterfowlers have a lot for which to be thankful.
“We got ducks, a lot of ducks, for this early in the year,” said Paul Thomas of Senatobia. “I’m in the ag sales business and I travel throughout the Delta, from Memphis to Vicksburg, and have for over 30 years. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this many ducks, particularly mallards, this early.
“We took three kids on a youth hunt last Saturday and all three got limits of ducks and had 10 greenheads between them. We had some gadwalls and some greenwings to fill it out.”
Is he worried that the early shoot will hurt on opening day?
“No, not at all, and it wouldn’t matter if it did; we never miss youth day,” Thomas said. “But I went back by the same brake Sunday morning and it had more ducks than we saw on Saturday. These early winter polar blasts have really sped up the migration. I think new birds are arriving every day.”
Thomas hunted in the north central Delta in Tallahatchie County last weekend, and plans to hunt the area Thursday and Saturday.
“The plan is to get enough ducks for gumbo for Saturday’s Egg Bowl football game,” Thomas said. “We need about a dozen and I’m sure between me and my two sons, we’ll get that easy on two mornings.
“We may even hunt another place, a little further south on Saturday. I’ve got friends in Belzoni who say they are covered up with ducks, too.”
As far south as Vicksburg, the reports remain above average for November.
“I’ve scouted up around Eagle, Chotard and Albermarle lakes this week and was surprised to see the number of ducks,” said Albert Watson of Vicksburg. “I hope I find a hot spot Saturday. I’d go Thursday, but it would cost me about half of everything I have. My wife would want a divorce.”
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks updated its online weekly waterfowl report Tuesday, and it backs up the hunters’ reports.
Quoting the post: “The November aerial waterfowl survey revealed unusually high abundances of mallards and other dabbling ducks for this time of year. ... Mallards were most abundant on large complexes of flooded agriculture and managed moist-soil habitats.”
On its weekly duck count for its top waterfowl wildlife management areas, the MDWFP showed medium to medium-high numbers of ducks on eight of the 10 WMAs listed. See the weekly statewide and WMA waterfowl estimates here http://www.mdwfp.com/wildlife-hunting/waterfowl-program/weekly-waterfowl-reports.aspx.
The duck daily bag limit is a total of six ducks, which may include four mallards (no more than two of which may be females), three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, two pintail, one canvasback, one mottled duck, and one black duck.
The merganser daily bag limit is five mergansers, only two of which may be hooded mergansers.
Coots have a 15-bird daily bag limit.
The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit for ducks, mergansers and coots.