Missouri Duck Counts
Average historic waterfowl distribution, 2019-Present
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Missouri duck counts, by the numbers...
59% Mallards, 41% Other Species
Whether targeting snow geese, mallards, or anything in-between, Missouri is a top destination for waterfowl hunting. With some of the largest river systems in the midwest reaching their confluence with the Mississippi River in Missouri, huge amounts of ducks and geese move through the state during the winter migration.
Generally speaking, areas along the Missouri River and the northern extents of the Mississippi River hold the largest number of ducks and geese in November. Loess Bluff in the northwest portion of the state, and areas along the Mississippi River including Ted Shanks and Clarence Canon Refuge, have relatively high duck counts this time of year.
However, throughout the majority of the season, Missouri’s “Golden Triangle” (the areas encompassing Grand Pass, Fountain Grove, and Swan Lake Refuge) boasts astonishing duck counts and goose counts, and November is no exception—in mid-to-late November during the 2022-2023 waterfowl season, these three areas held over 500,000 ducks between them!
70% Mallards, 30% Other Species
Early December usually sees a large push of birds enter the state, with the duck count on average increasing roughly 50% from November, with the majority of the new additions being mallards. Later on in December a large migration event usually occurs which sends a lot of the ducks along the Missouri and upper Mississippi River southward, but for the majority of the month, the theme is that the rich get richer in terms of waterfowl concentrations.
In addition to the areas outlined in November, the St. Charles bottoms near St. Louis and the areas in the western part of the state—Settle’s Ford, Schell-Osage, Montrose and Four Rivers—hold a large amount of birds in December. Four Rivers Conservation Area especially usually boats large duck counts in the western portion of the state.
For the southeastern portion of the state, duck counts usually start off moderate and build respectably throughout the month of December. Duck Creek, Mingo Refuge, Otter Slough and Ten Mile Pond usually boast impressive counts at this time.
56% Mallard, 44% Other Species
With the exception of unusually mild years, late December / early January usually sees a large migration event occur southward from the Missouri River and upper Mississippi River into the southeastern portion of the state.
Areas along the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi River—such as Ten Mile Pond and areas across the river in Kentucky and Illinois—usually have large populations of ducks in January, as do the Gee Bottoms near New Madrid and Coon Island near the Arkansas border. Depending on conditions, Otter Slough, Duck Creek and Mingo Refuge can have high duck counts in January, but with these areas being in the middle waterfowl zone, hunting season doesn’t extend much into January, so management for waterfowl usually becomes less important as the season is closed.
About the Missouri Waterfowl Distribution Maps
The waterfowl distribution maps from Migration Station are contour maps created with a combination of historic migration data and harvest data from the US Fish & Wildlife Service which aim to display relative waterfowl distributions over certain periods of time throughout the season. These maps take into account Missouri duck counts, goose counts and general migration reports.
Due to the nature of contour creation and our methods of averaging large amounts of data from over a long period of recent history, this information is intended to represent a rough approximation. As such, these maps are meant to be illustrative in nature only, and actual concentrations vary year to year depending on a a variety of factors such as, but not limited to, weather, hunting pressure, available habitat, etc.
If you have any questions about the maps, please feel free to contact us. For more information about data quality and (lack of) warranty, please view our Terms & Conditions.