Which States Boast the Top Mallard Harvest? You Might Be Surprised
Surprised? I was, though I probably shouldn’t be. Montana has a well-deserved reputation for quality waterfowling. Hunters took advantage during 2015-’16 to shoot about 143,050 mallards, beating out other perpetual Northern heavyweights such as Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. Actually, mallards comprised almost 78 percent of Montana’s estimated total duck harvest of 183,600.
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Yeah, everyone probably guessed this one. When you picture prairie corn fields and early-November cold fronts, you likely think of North Dakota. It’s a major production state and gets great migrant mallard flights from Canada. Therefore, it’s not difficult to imagine how Peace Garden State hunters took an estimated 189,295 mallards in 2015-’16.
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Um … seriously? I know Washington is a fantastic waterfowl state (just read M.D. Johnson’s Pacific Flyway Reports on Realtree.com), but I always envision hunters there filling up on wigeon, pintails and divers.
So much for baseless assumptions. Evergreen State waterfowlers shot a whopping estimated 219,729 mallards in 2015-’16. And don’t feel too bad for the pintail, wigeon and diver crowd. State hunters also took about 225,371 other ducks, for an outstanding estimated total harvest of 445,100.
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Hmm. Big bucks and heavyweight gobblers, sure. But 234,387 mallards in 2015-’16? Yep. Apparently, the Show Me State is a greenhead titan.
That shouldn’t come as a shock for a state where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers converge, funneling countless ducks and geese during the annual fall migration. What is surprising is that Missouri’s 2015-’16 harvest was actually down about 8 percent from the massive 2014-’15 mallard harvest estimate of 255,007. Can you say destination?
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OK, that’s pretty anti-climactic, as Arkansas’ rice fields and flooded timber are almost synonymous with late-season mallard shooting. Still, the numbers are impressive: Natural State waterfowlers shot an estimated 501,555 mallards in 2015-’16. That’s more than twice as many as the entire Atlantic Flyway total.
One final note: Some hunters probably wonder where Louisiana ranked on this list. Not very high, actually, as harvest estimates indicate hunters there shot just 38,490 mallards during 2015-’16. But remember, 2015 was a warm fall with a classic trickle migration. In 2014-’15, when cold weather struck the North early and stayed, Louisiana hunters shot about 126,396 mallards.
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