Wetland habitat, weather will greatly influence the waterfowl season
Published 1:14 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2022
By Houston Havens and Darrin Hardesty
MDWFP Waterfowl Program
JACKSON — The second of three season segments for Mississippi’s waterfowl hunting season occurred over the weekend, and harvest reports from public and private lands declined overall from the season opener. Warm, foggy, and sometimes rainy weather has been the trend over the past week, especially Saturday when dense fog covered large portions of the state until late morning.
Wetland habitat availability is well below normal levels for this time of year across much of Mississippi, but more rainfall late this week should help to add some water to the landscape. Water levels in the Mississippi River are also well below normal levels for this time of year. This week’s weather outlook for Mississippi predicts unseasonably warm temperatures with rain likely over the weekend and into early next week.
Several state Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and intensively managed private lands across the Mississippi Delta reported good hunting success last weekend. Green-winged teal, gadwall, and wood ducks still made up a significant portion of waterfowl harvest reports.
Several reports of high numbers of wood ducks have been received this season. As always, availability of quality wetland habitat and weather conditions will greatly influence waterfowl harvest on both private and public lands. More wetland habitat is certainly needed across the state to “set the table” for large numbers of wintering waterfowl.
However, the short-term effect of rainfall adding more water on the landscape, combined with warm temperatures, could make duck hunting conditions a bit more difficult as birds spread out into newly flooded areas. Fortunately, the long range forecast does show potential for more normal conditions later this month, which could mean better chances for new migrations.
Hunters are reminded that Mississippi’s regular waterfowl seasons are currently closed again, but the light goose conservation order is open. The final (and longest) stretch of Mississippi’s regular duck and goose hunting seasons will begin Friday, December 9 and will conclude on Tuesday, January 31.
The December aerial waterfowl survey is scheduled to be flown next week, and survey results and distribution maps will be available on MDWFP’s website and social media platforms soon after completion.
For more information regarding waterfowl in Mississippi, visit our website at www.mdwfp.com/waterfowl or call us at (601) 432-2199. The Waterfowl Program web page lists links to hunting regulations, migration reports, and habitat information for specific WMAs and other public lands throughout the state.
Wildlife Management Area Harvest Report
Hunters had varying levels of success at some of the WMA’s across the state based on reported harvests. One hunter at Canemount harvested 3 ducks this weekend. Canemount is near Lorman in between Natchez and Vicksburg. Out of 73 visits to Mahannah WMA, 158 harvests were reported meaning 2.16 birds taken per visit. Mahannah operates on a draw system and is north of Vicksburg.
Hunters bagged four ducks in three visits to Copiah County WMA near Brookhaven.
Four visits to Phil Bryant WMA near Vicksburg bagged two ducks. Sunflower WMA, which is in Issaquena County, had 124 visits with 152 harvests resulting in 1.23 birds per visit. Lake George, just east of Sunflower, had 15 visits with 13 harvests.
Further north of Mahannah, Howard Miller WMA had 24 visits with 72 harvests. Upper Sardis WMA , in Lafayette County, had 24 visits with 11 harvests.
Old River WMA, which is located in Pearl River County, reported 27 visits with 20 harvests. Wolf River WMA, which is in Pearl River and Lamar County, reported 3 visits with five harvests.