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The Student News Site of Natrona County High School

The Gusher

The Student News Site of Natrona County High School

The Gusher

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2023 Duck Hunting Forecast

NC+senior+Brody+Magee+holds+his+banned+duck%2C+after+a+successful+first+hunting+trip+this+year+on+October+21st+in+Colorado.+%E2%80%9CHunting+is+all+about+the+preparation%2C+but+it%E2%80%99s+never+a+guarantee+that+the+day+will+end+in+a+successful+harvest%2C%E2%80%9D++explains+Magee.+
NC senior Brody Magee holds his banned duck, after a successful first hunting trip this year on October 21st in Colorado. “Hunting is all about the preparation, but it’s never a guarantee that the day will end in a successful harvest,” explains Magee.

Duck hunting tends to fly under the radar when people think about Wyoming, a state more popular for deer, elk and pronghorn. To some Wyomingites, waterfowl hunting is just as important, and it’s that season again.

 Wyoming belongs to the central flyway for ducks, along with Montana, Colorado, South Dakota, and more. According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department habitats in local areas appear to be good, and they estimate an average to below average duck population this year. Duck migration is typically based on weather conditions. Noelle Smith, a migratory game bird and wetland biologist explains, “the cold weather moving in is going to push earlier migrants and any remaining local breeders out of here.” Due to weather and lack of open waters in the Wyoming winter, there won’t be a dense amount of migration through the state, but hope for duck hunters is not lost. “There’s not nearly as much competition as in a lot of states with more people and more duck hunters, and we have some good public and private hunting spots across the state,” explains Smith. Places such as irrigated basins, and the Goshen Hole near Wheatland have an abundance of water, making it a perfect landscape for duck and goose hunting. 

The Game and Fish Department conducts an annual survey of how many duck hunters were active throughout the season. Wyoming sees around 6000-7000 duck hunting participants every year. Smith encourages hunters to fill out the survey so the state has a better estimation on populations, hunters, and harvest after the season. 

Brody Magee, a senior at NC, and lifetime duck hunter explains, “I get to be with my friends and family and do what I love, which is trying to get a chance to harvest some of mother nature’s delicious food.” Magee had what hunters would call an excellent opening day, where he and his family had lots of success, and he lucked out with a banded duck. He was hunting for waterfowl in Colorado to prepare for this year’s season in Wyoming. Banded ducks have an aluminum band, engraved with a unique number, used for research by federal and state agencies. Magee’s duck was banned in Colorado in 2020. 

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“I expect some amazing days and some very freezing miserable days,” explains Magee. A successful season is not always guaranteed but avid hunters aren’t always in it for the harvest. Many hunters just enjoy the landscape, and the opportunity to find peace in nature. Success is favored but it’s the unsuccessful hunts that lead to a learning experience all hunters go through. Maybe their decoys weren’t placed properly, or their aim needed work, or maybe they did nothing wrong but the birds just didn’t cooperate.  Magee has experienced many learning lessons when it comes to hunting, and it’s those low points that teach him, “bad things can always be turned around by the smallest things. Knowing that, I can sit there for hours and not see a single bird, but it’s nothing less than a great time spent,” explains Magee.

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