man Pollmann is a freelance writer native Dell Rapids, southern Dakota, that is an avid waterfowler and also conservationist.

Waterfowl hunting avenues in the main Flyway rival those discovered anywhere in north America, together millions of migrating waterfowl funnel through the an ar each fall. Many of those avenues can be discovered on public land, including the following five main Flyway waterfowl searching hotpots.

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Benton Lake nationwide Wildlife Refuge, Montana


Montana may not be the first place that involves mind as soon as you think that waterfowl hunting, however the big Sky State is residence to thousands of acres of public searching land, consisting of those uncovered on Benton Lake national Wildlife Refuge (NWR).

Located near great Falls in main Montana, Benton Lake NWR lies along the west edge that the main Flyway. The refuge has just end 12,000 acres of element waterfowl habitat, consisting of short-grass prairie and also the namesake Benton Lake, i m sorry is in reality a 6,000-acre shallow wetland. Locally produced mallards, pintails, gadwalls, and blue-winged teal provide the mass of the early-season opportunities, if the an ar is also a stopping suggest later in the season because that and geese moving from Canada.

In addition to approximately 2,000 acres open up to searching on the refuge, public access is also accessible on more than 16,000 acre of federal waterfowl production locations scattered transparent the region. There, hunters are likewise likely to uncover a mix the upland bird such together pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, and Hungarian partridge to keep them liven after a morning ~ above the marsh.

“Don’t disregard the block management areas in this an ar either,” advises Sean Fields, coordinator that the Prairie Pothole Joint endeavor based at Benton Lake NWR. “There is an superior amount of ground enrolled in this program in main Montana because that both upland and also waterfowl hunting.”

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Lonetree Wildlife management Area, phibìc Dakota


Between Garrison Dam top top the Missouri River and also Devils Lake to the northeast is some of the best duck nation in phibìc Dakota, and also smack in the center of it all is Lonetree Wildlife administration Area (WMA). Managed by the phibìc Dakota Game and Fish Department, this WMA encompasses practically 33,000 acres of differed habitat types, consisting of native prairie and wetlands, and a section of the Sheyenne River.

“When you’re at Lonetree, you’re surrounding by some good duck country,” states veteran north Dakota hunter Joe Fladeland. “Go in just about any direction and also you’re walking to uncover the mix of water and food the attracts local mallards, wigeon, and also other as well as birds moving down native Canada.”

The searching pressure on Lonetree WMA deserve to be heavy early on in the season, so Fladeland says planning a trip after the first couple of weeks that the season.

“, geese, pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, white-tailed deer—even moose—this part of the state has it all,” Fladeland says.

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Springfield Bottoms, south Dakota


Springfield bottom is a section of the Missouri river along southern Dakota’s southeastern border that is composed of cattail-lined pockets of open water scattered transparent expanses that marsh. As soon as the weather it s okay cold, mallards and also Canada geese flock to this waters in large numbers, providing standard waterfowl searching in one iconic setup that is open up to the public.

Larger watercrafts are the rule for Springfield Bottoms, as is a working knowledge of the river the is notorious for log in jams, sandbars, and also other challenges, consisting of the danger ice problems during late-season hunts. With sufficient hunting pressure, birds have tendency to move out of the marsh and also onto more open waters. Scouting climate becomes an even higher priority to uncover pockets of continuing to be birds.

“Later in the season this deserve to mean waiting till after sunrise to launch your boat so you can see what the birds room doing,” states veteran southern Dakota hunter Phil Kahnke. “And as soon as it’s yes, really cold, this also gives girlfriend a possibility to gain a great look at the water conditions and areas that ice.”

Nonresident waterfowl searching licenses in south Dakota are obtainable through a lottery system. For much more information, visit

Valentine national Wildlife Refuge, Nebraska


Located in Nebraska’s renowned Sandhills region, Valentine nationwide Wildlife Refuge encompasses a vast expanse of rojo hills and also wetlands that produce big numbers the The refuge additionally serves together a stopping point for moving waterfowl, consisting of mallards, pintails, green-winged teal, and Canada geese. This fall, hunting opportunities were expanded significantly on the refuge, offering hunters access to secondary 25,000 acre of wetlands and uplands.

Weather is just one of the biggest difficulties when hunting the Sandhills, says note Vrtiska, waterfowl regime manager because that the Nebraska Game and also Parks Commission, together the area’s shallow wetlands freeze conveniently when temperature drop.

“The other big challenge is navigating the size of the refuge and scouting to uncover the wetlands the the bird really want to use,” Vrtiska says. “There room so many alternatives for them out there, sometimes just over the hill from where you room hunting.” 

If friend visit this part of Nebraska, setup on pass some an excellent boots because that walking. In enhancement to waterfowl hunting opportunities, Valentine NWR is just one of the couple of places where hunters deserve to bag both prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse. Pheasants are also a possibility.

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Southeast Kansas Wildlife Areas


Late-season weather transforms can often carry prime hunting methods for Kansas waterfowlers. A sweeping cold front indigenous the north is frequently accompanied by a fashionable migration the mallards and also Canada geese, when warming temperatures after a duration of cold weather can carry a tide of birds up from the south. Ideal of all, an excellent public searching is available in the southeast corner of the state.

Top public hunting destinations incorporate John Redmond, Neosho, and also Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Areas, which room intensively controlled by the Kansas department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Mallards, pintails, teal, and other dabblers make up the mass of the bag.

Hunters must pay close fist to the weather before planning a trip, suggests Karl Karrow, manager of Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area.

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“Just about any change in the weather is good, yet we really carry out well when areas to the north of us gain some snow,” Karrow says. “Mallards and geese will challenging it out through a great cold snap, but if your food gets extended up with snow, they have tendency to move south, and also that’s a game changer for us.”

For much more information about hunting on state wildlife areas, including reports ~ above water levels and bird numbers, visit