SIKESTON -- With most waterfowl seasons in full swing, southeast Missouri is seeing hunters from across the region travel to the area to take advantage of its prime hunting conditions.
"The Bootheel in general is a pretty prime spot for waterfowl hunters," Missouri Conservation agent Leother Branch said. "We get hunters from quite a few different states.
"They come from here to pursue waterfowl and they tend to think that southeast Missouri is probably want of the prime hunting area in the Midwest."
While preseason outlooks had the number of birds in Missouri up from the long-term trend, a recent cold slump has frozen much of the local habitat in recent weeks, forcing migrating birds to move on.
Branch is optimistic, however, that once the cold slump passes we'll improving bird counts once again.
"Just now the ground has frozen over and some of the areas have 1 1/2 to 2 inches of ice on them and it's not providing enough areas for the ducks to get in there to land and feed," he said. "So sometimes they might just migrate on through. Once the weather starts getting cold and icy up north we usually pick up more birds in the latter part of the season."
He added that for the most part, hunters have been averaging 2.4 to 2.7 ducks a day on hunting on public and private lands.
One thing local hunter may have notice an increase of this year is flooded fields. This is due to a government effort, encouraging farmers to flood their field in the off-season to encourage water fowl from migrating too far south to areas effected by the Gulf oil spill.
"That program indeed probably helped out a bunch (with available habitat)," Branch said. "But it really scattered the birds around a lot due to the fact there's way more water and food sources for the birds this year."
With most current birds season's lasting into January in southeast Missouri, hunters are reminded that shooting hours are from 30 minutes from sunrise to sunset on private land.