I knew this was coming … ducks using flooded corn and soybean fields and abandoning their traditional lakes and streams. After a couple of weeks of the early waterfowl season, the flooded field pattern is still holding true. We keep getting heavy rain every week keeping these fields flooded and the water levels never recede.
Here are some thoughts for any struggling waterfowler as we head into the mid part of the season.
Birds in middle of sections
Migrating ducks especially mallards have a knack for finding those out-of-the way dips and depressions in crop fields and they are almost always unseen from the roads. Often these depressions are in the middle of sections. The only way I can discover these obscure areas is to actually watch the ducks drop into these areas.
By keeping an eye on the sky you’ll catch a duck or two dropping in and then it’s up the hunter to obtain permission.
Waders a must
Leave the hip boots at home. These flooded crop fields have water that is thigh high and I experienced even higher water recently in southwestern Minnesota. You have heavy mud to deal with as well and the walk into these fields is a death march. It’s worth it once you get in there and discover you’ve hit the honey hole.
Make sure your waders are properly fitted as ill-fitting waders will allow the mud to suck the boots right off your feet.
Most of the farmers I have encountered have lost these flooded fields with no hope of harvesting the crops. Obtaining permission to enter the fields is rather easy under these conditions.
When the crops are a bust, they will just plow the fields over anyway and they don’t mind that you are hunting there and disturbing the crops. In any normal year, they wouldn’t allow anybody to tromp through their fields so this is a good opportunity for hunters to get access when they normally won’t.
Hit the road
I’ve put a ton of miles on my truck this season seeking out these flooded fields and it’s just part of the process. Today’s waterfowler needs to break out from the old routines of throwing out a bunch of decoys on a spot and hoping the ducks will come to you. In Minnesota that can be a long wait. This flooded field pattern gives you an opportunity to make something happen on your own.
Put in the time and success will come.
Steve Carney is an outdoors writer.