The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual fall wetland survey indicates poor to fair wetland conditions for duck hunting throughout the state.
Andy Dinges, Department migratory game bird biologist, said the number of duck hunting wetlands are down statewide about 44% from last fall and are also 45% below the 2003-2020 average.
“We are experiencing fall wetland conditions similar to what occurred from 2006-08, which was our last prolonged dry period throughout the state,” Dinges said.
Dinges said the northeast region has the highest number of duck hunting wetlands this fall, but is still about 30% below average for the region. The south central region is also faring a little better and is only about 17% below the long-term average for the number of duck hunting type wetlands. However, all other regions of the state are experiencing conditions that are at least 50% below average for the number of duck hunting type wetlands observed.
“Most of the remaining wetlands are in fair to good shape, but hunters should certainly expect mud margins around wetlands, possibly making hunting more difficult,” he said.
Wetland conditions were poor in early spring from little to no snow melt, in addition the early and mid-summer were also extremely dry for most of the state, Dinges said.
“We have received some much-needed rainfall in the last month or so, but it hasn’t been enough to really improve wetland conditions,” he added. “Most of the state has only received about 50-75% of normal precipitation since last year when the fall wetland survey was conducted.”
The quality of waterfowl hunting in North Dakota is largely determined by weather conditions and migration patterns. Dinges said waterfowl populations are still doing well for the most part despite drought this year, which still makes for the potential of some good fall hunting in North Dakota.
“Hunters should always scout because of ever-changing conditions and distribution of waterfowl,” he said. “Hunters should also be cautious driving off-trail to avoid soft spots, and while encountering areas of tall vegetation that could be a fire hazard.”
The fall wetland survey is conducted in mid-September, just prior to the waterfowl hunting season to provide an assessment of conditions duck hunters can expect. Duck hunting wetlands are classified as seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands.