Harsens Island Managed Waterfowl Hunt Area Manager's Update

Review for week ending

  • 12/04/2021


  • Ice in places early in the week reached as much as ¾" thick. We thawed out Thursday and had some decent wind to end the season.

Waterfowl abundance

  • The cold snap early in the week brought in another small push of birds and brought us up to our highest refuge totals of the year, over 23,000. More mallards arrived, as well as a little push of pintails and a few hundred more new black ducks. There are a few wigeon and shovellers hanging around still, plus a small amount of die hard green wings.

Hunting conditions

  • We started pumping the refuge out Saturday afternoon and started pulling water from hunting zones Sunday afternoon. With no ice in the forecast, we should be able to dewater without much issue. 

Hunter numbers

  • We had 771 hunter trips this week, bringing our final season total to 7,337 hunter trips. Morning participation was always lower than afternoons, as expected, but the ice early in the week made that even more prominent with single digit party sizes Monday through Wednesday in the mornings and at least 23 for the afternoons. Once we thawed, party sizes picked up again, peaking at 79 parties for Sunday afternoon.

Waterfowl harvest

  • Outside of Monday, when only 28 ducks were harvested all day, we had a good week harvesting over 100 birds a day and a high of 203 ducks taken on the 2nd. For the week, we harvested 795 ducks and 8 geese, for a 1.03 duck/trip average.

  • This week marks the end of the regular season split. We finished with 9,105 ducks harvested in 7,337 hunter trips for an average of 1.24 ducks/trip to go along with a record high of 199 geese harvested. This represents a 3% increase in both total harvest and ducks/hunter trip when compared to the five year average from 2015-2019, when we were doing two hunts a day, seven days a week. Hunter trips were within 0.5% of the five year average.

  • We harvested 46% more birds in 36% more hunter trips than we did in 2020. Our duck/hunter trip increased from 1.15 to 1.24.

What to expect this week

  • Between now and the holidays, we will be draining fields as fast as possible to prepare for corn harvest in January and February. Getting the water out before we're dealing with ice makes our harvest much smoother and more reliable.

Upcoming events

  • We will be open for the late split on January 1 regardless of conditions. Watch for updates later in December for what the conditions for that hunt will look like, but plan on dry fields.

Other comments

  • The use of all motion winged decoys remains prohibited at the managed area.