Last week’s severe arctic cold blast that raced across and froze out most areas of the upper Mississippi River flyway was an early Christmas gift to duck hunters in the Magnolia State.

Ducks, lots of them, including the prized green-headed mallards, migrated south and arrived in the ponds and flooded agricultural fields in the Delta.

“Lots of new birds have reached us,” said Jeff Terry, who hunts on his private farm not far from Eagle Lake on the Warren-Issaquena County line above Vicksburg. “They came in last week and they’ve hung around.”

Terry sent a photo of his first-year pup Tex outside a duck blind in one of his flooded holes taken Wednesday after a short productive shoot.

“Took 45 minutes for all of us to limit,” Terry said, indicating that is necessary for hunters as the weather rapidly warms — it’s forecast to be near 80 degrees Christmas day — and duck hunting conditions deteriorate quickly.

“I think the new birds we have will hold us until the next front out of the north,” Terry said. “Everyone has just gotten enough rain to put a lot of food in the water, so if you don’t put too much pressure on them they will stay.

“Get in, get out, and you should be fine.”

Other hunters are reporting similar results, including Austin Partridge of Terry who mostly hunts public lands, taking advantage of successful WMA draws. He’s even learned how to cash in on opportunities when hunters no-show on draws.

His reward for diligence: Hunting Wednesday on public land in the South Delta, Terry killed his first, and rare, black duck.