Wintry weather good news for waterfowl hunters

The winter storm front and extremely cold temperatures that have held much of the country in their grip for the past week or so have made the going rough for outdoors lovers, but those conditions also have opened the door of opportunity for waterfowl hunters.

Hunters in southern Idaho and northern Utah are reporting major migration activity as the storm pushes birds south. Rob Friedel, an Avery Pro staffer, posted the following report on the Ducks Unlimited migration report website: “Still have good number of teal, spooners and goldeneye. Mallards and wigeon can be found if you can find open backwaters. ... You have to look hard though. Water normally open has been rock hard.”

W.M., a poster from Boise, wrote on Monday that he “went out for an evening hunt” and in a half hour of hunting saw lots of ducks on the river he was hunting. “Tons of ducks,” he wrote. “Light calling and good decoy spreads did wonders. Shot six (ducks), five mallards and a wigeon.”

Some of the birds seen by these and other hunters will make their way south through Nevada. Some Southern Nevada hunters already are reporting an increase in bird activity as a result of the storm activity. One duck hunter who frequents the Overton Wildlife Management Area told me he and his friends all bagged their limits during a weekend hunting trip. Their bag was comprised primarily of mallards. Tim Wood, the area manager, confirmed the report of increased bird numbers and said hunters are harvesting an average of 4.5 birds a piece. While the hunter I spoke to harvested all mallards, Wood said he is seeing a variety of species on the management area.

■ SAFETY REMINDER — Earlier this week, the entire nation watched closely as events unfolded in the search for six members of a Nevada family who failed to return from a day trip into the desert outside of Lovelock in northwestern Nevada. Of significant concern was the snowy weather and nighttime temperatures that dropped close to 20 degrees below zero. Luckily, searchers found the family alive and in fairly good health on Tuesday morning.

As approximately 200 people searched the desert, James Glanton, 34, did all he could to protect the lives of his girlfriend, Christina McIntee, 25; their two children, Evan and Chloe Glanton; and Shelby Fitzpatrick and Tate McIntee. The latter two are Christina McIntee’s niece and nephew. Glanton built a fire and heated rocks that he used to heat the area under the vehicle the group used as shelter. The couple reportedly went without food while rationing their supply among the children.

While this event had a happy ending, it still is a good reminder that we should always be prepared for the unexpected whenever we venture into the wild. To begin with, we should all make it a habit to take another person with us on our outdoor adventures. Had I been alone when I had a major health event in 2010, I would not be here today. And we should make it a habit to leave a trip plan with a responsible adult, even for day trips. That plan should include a description of the vehicle we are taking, a list of trip participants, details about our destination and our departure and anticipated return times. No one will know you are missing unless you let them know when to expect your return.

Someone knew enough about Glanton and McIntee’s plans to recognize that they had not returned as planned and that something was wrong. It also is a good idea to carry sleeping bags or blankets, enough food and water for a few days, fire-starting materials and the means of signaling for help.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at