Floodwaters mean duck hunters should be cautious; 'accessibility is going to be very difficult'

Lots of water means lots of ducks.

But wildlife biologists caution that hunters need to be careful in some areas because of that water as duck season opens Saturday in parts of Nebraska and in Iowa.

“Probably the biggest obstacle may be in road conditions,’’ says Nebraska Game and Parks waterfowl program manager Mark Vrtiska, especially in Zone 2 in the Sand Hills.

Zones 2 and 4 open Saturday in Nebraska. Zone 1 opens on Oct. 12 and Zone 3 starts Oct. 24.

On the Iowa side, the State Department of Natural Resources says floodwaters have cut off access to several popular public wildlife management areas .

“The boat ramp and walk-in parking lot on the Jensen Tract of the Riverton Wildlife Management Area, south of County Highway J46, have been cut off, along with the entire M.U. Payne & Auldon Bar management areas,” said Matt Dollison, Nishnabotna Wildlife Unit biologist.

Copeland Bend, Forney Lake and Noddleman Island wildlife management areas have limited access because many of the roads used to reach the properties are under water.

The main boat ramp on the Riverton management area should still be accessible, Dollison said, as well as the ramp at Forney Lake from the east, but the water at Forney is very deep.

Dollison said officials counted 1,200 ducks at Riverton on Wednesday but the area may have picked up more with the cold fronts that have come through since.

"The reports we have gotten on the number of ducks raised in the prairie pothole region up north were good again this year, so there should be a good number of ducks moving through,'' he said. "However, with all the water around from the flooding and recent heavy rains, I'm guessing they could be spread all over, so our pumped wetlands like Riverton might see a few less ducks than normal."

Hunters along the Missouri River on both sides may need to gain access by boat and need to use caution, Vrtiska said.

“Accessibility is going to be very difficult,’’ he said.

Teal season started like gangbusters in Nebraska because of all the water in the state, then tapered off some because of warm conditions.

“From what we’ve seen in teal season, there should be plenty of birds out there and plenty of ducks,’’ Vrtiska said. “The forecast is looking good.’’

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