Waterfowl hunting Top 5 questions. #1

Waterfowl hunting Top 5 questions. #1

Waterfowl hunting Top 5 questions. #1

December 29, 2016 by

Top 5 Waterfowl hunting Questions

#1. When is the best time to book a Waterfowl Hunt?

Are you searching for the best time for a fall waterfowl hunting trip?

When i am asked this question, i try to give my best guess based on previous years. I emphasize that i can not predict the weather nor conditions at any given time. With migrating fall birds, we are totally at the mercy of the weather and seasonal trend, which is beyond unpredictable.

12-15 yrs ago my answer was simple and accurate.

Early season(Sept 24th)= Quantity, lots of juvies a few mature birds.

Later season(Oct 20th)= Quality, lots of Mature birds, very few juvies.  

These days it has become more difficult to find a pattern and this is entirely due to the large variation in seasonal weather! Gone are the days of typical weather and migrations, and this is echoed across the entire continent! 

You can't choose the weather nor the birds. But you can choose your outfitter.

A good outfitter will be willing and able to adapt to the varying elements and challenges. A diverse assortment of equipment and staff abilitlies can turn a bad hunt into a good save. More important is a good location has several different hunting opportunities such as great fields to hunt, small potholes and marshes and a lake nearby with boats at the ready. Finding a place like this is priceless when the weather/migration is interupted. Ready to go options have saved many hunts for us and this is vital for fullfilling each day when weather turns sour. The best plans are still subject to natures cooperation, and it is disapointing when that happens. If your outfitter has a plan B, C or D pat yourself on the back for making a wise choice. It may not be your dream hunt but it sure beats laying in a blind watching seagulls or going for a boat ride in 50 mph winds.  

The traveling waterfowler with a very flexible schedule is the most fortunate. A flexible work and lifestyle allows for last minute hunting. If your outfitter is not booked solid and can host a last minute trip, you both can watch the migration and weather to try and get there when the birds do. What could better than that? This senario is very rare for both parties to have that kind of flexibility. Most outfitters are booked in advance, in some cases years in advance. There may be a few cancellations which allow for last minute booking but that again requires a very flexible schedule.

The majority of us need to plan ahead and solidify dates, all with fingers crossed. Sometimes it works out great and sometimes not. This is disapointing for everyone, including the outfitter. Reality is it can not be predicted nor prevented. 

To lessen the blow, i suggest you plan your hunt based on more than one factor, and hedge your bets.

  • Find an outfitter that offers many types of waterfowl hunting opportunities as mentioned above. Discuss "what if's" regarding those types of hunts available. 
  • Talk with your outfitter and make sure you are specific on the species you are most interested in. Ask their opinion based on past few years.
  • Decide on a date that allows you to be away without stress and huge demands from work and family. You will enjoy the hunt experience much more. Hunt when it works best for you and your group.

In our area of Manitoba,consider late Sept and all of October. Mid October is sort of a fail safe time of the migration, generally!

Trying to predict weather and migration with any degree of certainty has become immpossible. But this is Canada, so even our few bird days are better than the best days at most places. 

Do this, then pack every piece of hunting clothing to match all hunting conditions imaginable. You will be prepared for what mother nature can throw at you and will be able to roll with the guides no matter what the plan.

Good planning and good hunting! 

 Written by Gildas Paradis, Riverside Lodge, 2016

Posted in: Waterfowl Hunting

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