State conservation officials are warning that lake conditions could make for a more challenging hunt in some areas.
The Department of Natural Resources said waterfowl hunters throughout Saginaw Bay will see low water levels that could impact the season.
Lake Huron is almost 2 feet below its long-term average and 9 inches below last year's level. The Great Lakes are all beginning their seasonal decline, which will likely reduce the water level on Lake Huron another 1-3 inches this fall. Drought conditions throughout the upper Great Lakes region during spring and much of summer will exacerbate the seasonal decline.
As a result, many hunting zones may not be flooded at the Nayanquing Point and Fish Point state wildlife areas for the Oct. 6 waterfowl opener in the South Zone. Area managers are currently pumping water as conditions allow, particularly on days when favorable northerly winds are present.
Hunting conditions are expected to be better at the Shiawassee River State Game Area. There, most hunting zones are expected to be flooded for the opening weekend. Waterfowl hunting opportunities at the Quanicassee, Wigwam Bay, Crow Island and Wildfowl Bay wildlife areas along the Saginaw Bay will also be difficult. Hunters will notice drier conditions than previous years.
Waterfowl hunters are encouraged to scout boat launch conditions prior to hunting since access to water may be difficult, especially for owners of large watercraft. Shifting winds can cause lake water to recede or rise very quickly. Boat owners should use caution to avoid being stranded on sand bars.
Despite low water conditions, duck and goose numbers are currently very good. Hunters who scout and adapt their hunting techniques to shallow water conditions should expect good hunting success this year. In addition, numbers of diving ducks, such as scaup and redheads, are up this year and opportunities for deeper, open-water hunting of these species should be abundant.
Hunting conditions will be posted online for each area on the Wetland Wonders website. For more information about current hunting conditions, hunters can call the following managed waterfowl area offices: Fish Point at (989) 674-2511, Nayanquing Point at (989) 697-5101, Crow Island at (989) 684-7734 or Shiawassee River at (989) 865-6211.