With crazy, topsy-turvy weather gripping the Red River Valley this week, waterfowlers in Oklahoma might be scratching their heads about what to wear this weekend for the first trip to the duck blind.
After all, as the Nov. 4-26 first split of the Oklahoma Zone 2 duck season prepares to begin in the morning, the weatherman has brought a little bit of everything in recent days from sub-freezing weather last weekend to record highs in the 90s yesterday.
Fortunately, the ducks don’t seem to be noticing much as hunters report good numbers on the eve of the southern Oklahoma opener.
“We’re slam packed full of them in Oklahoma,” said Dakota Stowers, head man of North Texas Outfitters (www.northtexasoutfitters.com; 903-815-9842). “We’re seeing tons of pintails, wigeon, teal, gadwalls, and even a few mallards here and there.”
Stowers said scouting this week has him excited for the groups of hunters that his outfit is guiding this weekend on wetlands and small lakes in southwestern Oklahoma.
“I’m expecting a smack down kind of duck shoot on opening morning,” he said, noting that there would probably be some good photos posted to the group’s Facebook page (North Tx Outfitters).
“There should be a lot of excitement (Friday night) in our three lodge facilities including our main Pecan Hollow Lodge.”
What’s more, thanks to the same heavy rains a few weeks ago in southwestern Oklahoma that caused the sharp rise in Lake Texoma’s level, Stowers and his guides are finding early arriving Canada geese and specklebelly geese hitting wheat fields with standing water in them.
“There are a pretty good number of ducks and geese around and I’m pumped up for the opener,” he said.
For southern Oklahoma waterfowl hunters wanting to get out and give the ducks a try this weekend, Stowers offers several pieces of advice.
“First, you’ve got to get out and scout,” he said. “Go to the spots that had ducks last fall and start looking. When you find the biggest numbers in one particular spot, that’s where I’d be on opening morning.”
Next, the guide says to match your decoy spread to the early season ducks that you will be hunting.
“In the early days of the November split, you’re going to see more pintails, gadwalls, wigeon, and teal than you will mallards,” said Stowers. “So the key is to make your decoy spread match the ducks that you can expect to see in the air right now.
“Throw a few Avian-X mallard decoys out, but make sure that you’ve got plenty of the other species in your spread too.”
Next, don’t overdo the calling on your acrylic duck calls since location will trump a hunter’s ability to belt out a few highball greeting calls right now.
“I’m not much on highballing at early season ducks,” said Stowers. “I’ll throw some feed chuckles and hen quacks out of our Zink calls, and some teal and pintail whistles too, but being in the right spot beats the best duck calling on most days, especially in the early season.”
Finally, even though it is the early stages of the 2017-18 duck season here in the Red River Valley, the season has been going on for several weeks to the north of here.
“That means that you’ll need to cover up good,” said Stowers. “Even though this is opening weekend, we’ll spend a few extra minutes to make sure that our Avian-X A-frame blinds are grassed up well and brushed in good to keep circling ducks from seeing us.”
After that, all that’s left for a Sooner State waterfowler to do is to shoot straight when the ducks try to land in the decoy spread.
That and make sure that they are dressed for the right temperatures, of course, as our crazy week of topsy-turvy weather continues.