(Greenhead.net Pro Staffer Anthony Cassinelli hunts the green timber of the Cache and White River bottoms, and his family duck club has been featured on ESPN.com and in the Arkansas Duck Hunter’s Almanac. Look for more of Anthony’s contributions throughout the fall and on through duck season.)
We hunted in northwest Saskatchewan around Battleford. We hunted six days with a friend of mine who lives there. The weather was very warm at the beginning of the week, and by the end it finally was feeling like duck hunting weather.
While the lows finally got down to about 28 degrees, the highs would get up to 70 degrees. Normally for that time of year, it shouldn’t get above 40. Saskatchewan had an extremely high amount of rain this past summer. With all the talk about the Dakotas and their record rainfalls in the spring and summer, this was as much water as Saskatchewan had ever seen, as well. And with all the warm weather, the ducks had not even started to leave yet.
During the same week last year, it was snowing every day and barely getting above freezing. This year, there were still lots of snow geese and swans around, but they should have been long gone by now. And the amount of snow geese everyone was talking about was way above normal.
Geese in the Morning, Ducks in the Afternoon
As far as the hunting, we hunted Canada geese in the morning and ducks in the afternoon. The first day we managed to kill about 20 Canada geese and 30 ducks. The limit is eight ducks and eight Canada geese a day.
With the warm weather, the birds wouldn’t fly but about hour and a half in the morning and during the last hour near dark. The second day, we got on some ducks in the afternoon and killed a limit of mallards and pintails in about an hour — but only after it had cooled down with the passing of a front. There they all were, in a barley field, by the thousands.
The third day warmed up and we killed about 20 geese in the morning and 20 ducks in the afternoon. It was very warm that day, almost 70 degrees! On the fourth day, a front had moved the previous night and we killed limit of Canada geese in about hour and a half. We’d found a field the day before with about 5,000 in it. They came in perfect, in small groups — key to killing geese.
That afternoon, we found about 2,000 ducks on Indian ground. We got permission from the Indians to hunt there, but they required us to take one of their guides with us. Big mistake.
I have no idea how anyone ever kills a duck hunting with that guy. We somehow managed to kill 28. But the guide wanted to set up with the wind in our face and us shooting them after they flared off the decoys. It was easily the most frustrating hunt I’ve ever been on. We could have killed ducks no problem without him.
375 Ducks and Geese
On the fifth day, we found some geese and killed 35. It was cloudy and they didn’t fly until later, and this bunch wanted to come in in bigger groups. Those bigger groups are more difficult to decoy than the smaller groups of four to 12 geese.
That afternoon we went and hunted ducks out of a pothole — this, after we couldn’t get permission to hunt the field they were feeding. When we walked up the sky got “black” with ducks. The birds did just like they’re suppose to: coming back in singles all the way up to groups of 20. We managed to kill a limit. It took a while but it was fun shooting, taking turns. It wasn’t the big groups like you see in the fields but still lots of fun.
The last day we found a couple thousand geese in a spring wheat field. We set up and they started coming in pairs and then, suddenly, all at once. We managed to kill 28 geese.
That afternoon we hunted ducks in a pea field. We had been watching these ducks for a couple days, coming off a big lake to feed. We set up and before long they started coming. We killed a limit of ducks in one hour and 15 minutes. And when we quit, we could have killed another limit. It was a great hunt to end the week. In all, we ended up with around 375 ducks and geese.
It’s going to have to get a lot colder up north for Arkansas to start seeing any major amount of ducks anytime soon. Everyone up there was talking about how warm it was, and they think the ducks haven’t even started migrating yet. But of course, we need is water more than cold weather.