Who Won This Past Season's Greenhead Harvest Crown?
Drum roll — or feeding chuckle — please. This past season’s mallard master was … .
Some of you might recall that we published a July 2017 blog that listed the top five harvest states for mallards, using U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data from the 2015-’16 season. Well, we’re at it again, combing through the agency’s Migratory Bird Hunting Activity and Harvest During the 2016-’17 and 2017-’18 Hunting Seasons report. Focusing solely on 2017-’18 harvest data, we’re ready to name the country’s most recent greenhead titan. Disclaimer: Some of the top five states haven’t changed, but several newcomers surprised us.
No. 5: Washington: The Evergreen State again cracked our top five, as hunters there shot about 181,372 mallards during 2017-’18. That’s no real surprise, as Washington has long been regarded as a top duck and goose state. The only real eye-raiser is that this Pacific Flyway giant bumped traditional mallard hotspots such as Montana and North Dakota from our list.
No. 4: Oregon: Whoa. Seriously? No Minnesota or Texas, but Oregon? Yep. Beaver State hunters took about 183,971 mallards during the 2017-’18 campaign. I guess this shouldn’t really startle us, as Oregon has a top-shelf reputation among waterfowlers. It’s just that the state often seems to be overshadowed by its northern and southern neighbors. Speaking of which … .
No. 3: California: OK, this is looking like a Pacific Flyway sweep. California is ridiculously blessed with waterfowl resources, but folks usually tend to think of the Golden State as a pintail, teal or mixed-bag honey hole. Yet hunters there took about 209,323 mallards in 2017-’18. And if you were wondering, all those mallards didn’t seem to affect the pintail action, as California hunters also shot about 119,467 sprigs.
No. 2: Missouri: Finally, a familiar face returns to the conversation. Although Missouri doesn’t get tons of attention from mallard lovers, Show-Me State hunters always score big numbers. In 2017-’18, they took about 244,342 mallards, which ranked a solid second on our list — the same spot Missouri occupied in 2017. Big bucks, heavyweight gobblers and loads of greenheads — Missouri seems to have everything.
No. 1: Arkansas: Yeah, I know. Boring. The game is rigged. Yet no one can deny that Arkansas is America’s mallard king. For the record, hunters in the Natural State shot about 427,429 mallards during the 2017-’18 campaign. If it makes you feel better, that figure was down from about 621,200 taken during 2016-’17. With its abundant rice fields and green-timber resources, Arkansas will likely top this list for the foreseeable future. Now, we just need to figure out a way to get down there in January.
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Realtree waterfowl editor Brian Lovett has been an obsessive duck and goose hunter for more than 30 years, chasing his passion on the Dakota prairies and the marshes and open water of his home state of Wisconsin. He's been a writer and editor in the outdoors industry since 1991.