Late Season Winter Waterfowl Strategies
By Toby Trigger

Posted: January 7, 2018

It’s Cold and it’s your last chance to bag some ducks!

Here’s what you’ll need to know for late winter waterfowl success:


Cold weather gets birds moving and as the weather worsens throughout the day migrating birds will drop in low looking for a place to hide out and refuel. Any open water will draw waterfowl in like a rabid lab on a crippled goose.

Keep open water visible by stomping out the ice and placing a few decoys in the water if necessary. If it snows you need to brush them off. If the water freezes break it out and remove the remaining ice chunks.


It takes work to hunt calm waters in January  so when the ice gets too thick to keep pockets of water open hunt the rivers instead. They’ll be open until seasons end and will be beckoning late season ducks and geese.



Stream access laws in Montana allow hunters to easily access and utilize literally thousands of miles of prime water fowling below the high water mark. Late season birds will follow the rivers, particularly in the morning and as the weather deteriorates. Hunters who search out the narrowest sections of rivers will be rewarded with close pass shooting opportunities.



Nothing flares ducks and geese like a bulky duck blind on a river bend. By using a layout blind complete with shaggy grass you’ll be able to set up exactly where the ducks want to be. A few handfuls of snow brushed over your blind will melt your profile into the landscape. A sleeping bag inside your layout blind will keep you warm and ready to shoot the moment the birds pile in.

Hunting late season waterfowl requires insulated waders, warm clothes and slip resistant foot wear. Be prepared for ice and algae covered rocks to complicate everything you try to do.  The 2017-2018 season ends on January 17 2018 in the Pacific Flyway.  Check the hunting regulations then get out there and enjoy the last best chance to shoot big northern ducks in Montana!

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