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Mississippi Flyway Waterfowl Migration is heating up!!!

This weekend was a tale of two days of different weather in the the south central Illinois waterfowl zone on the Mississippi Flyway.  Saturday, we were greeted with warm weather, little wind, and changeable skies.  We saw a fair amount of birds early and then again late.  A few birds showed interest, but the majority knew where they were going or just didn’t fly at all. With the forecast of an arriving front, light rain, and cooler temperatures, we had higher hopes for Sunday.

Our hopes of fresh waterfowl migration and colder temps came true on Sunday.  We witnessed numerous groups of waterfowl migrating south with the colder temperatures and rain.  We didn’t go more than five minutes without having birds work, or seeing them fall from the heavens into the refuge.  With the number of birds we saw, we should have easily had limits, but most birds had no intentions of working.  The crew tried numerous times to rearrange the decoys and adjust the mojos in hopes of enticing more, but nothing seemed to work. We made the most of the groups that did work and managed to take 17 birds with 4 guys in the pit!  Our take was a mix of mallards, widgeon, and pintail.

The new trailer for the upcoming season of Folwed Reality can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObKBYnhGMnI

With cold temperatures in the forecast, the hunting should continue to be great as the birds continue their migration south through Illinois along the Mississippi Flyway.  As smaller water starts to freeze up, the birds will become more concentrated on larger water.  Fire up the ice eaters in your pot holes, concentrate on rivers/large lakes, or spend some road time searching for birds hitting the fields and you’ll be in for a good hunt.

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Waterfowl Migration – December 1, 2011

We have finally had some colder weather up north and a few days of NW winds to start a little waterfowl migration.  The Southern Illinois waterfowl survey count is up over the course of the past two weeks, but still slightly behind the 5 year average.  Just under a third of the birds counted in Southern Illinois are at Pyramid State Park.  Chris and Blake are headed that direction tomorrow evening for a hunt on Saturday.  Hopefully it’ll be a good one!

Southern Illinois Survey courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/waterfowl/surveys/Documents/SI30Nov2011.pdf

With the cold weather this week, lakes are starting to ice over pushing the birds into the open water they can find.  From the Mississippi River surveys, it appears the largest concentration of Mallards is located in the central part of the river.  Over 270,000 ducks are in this area.  The next cold push should spur large waterfowl migration into our main area of hunting in Southern Illinois.  Looking long-range, there is talks of snow across portions of the central midwest the middle of next week.  With the snow comes colder weather, more ice, south flying ducks!

Mississippi River Survey courtesy of the Illinois Natural History

http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/fieldstations/forbes/2011/ms11302011.pdf

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Here and gone….

Someone turned the duck migration switch on, then right back off. On Monday, I took my buddy out on his first duck hunt. It was foggy and drizzly with a light wind.  When all was said and done, he was hooked!  We easily should have had our limit, but managed to bring home 10 teal.  The teal have been thick since the season opened, but by mid morning we had a seen a few large groups of migrating mallards coming into the lake.  We had one group give us a look, but there was just too many of them to do it on our little water hole.  The second group disappeared into the fog as they dropped into the lake.  We saw good numbers of birds up until 11 and then all was quiet the last hour.

 

duck migration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday was the day to remember!  For the third day in a row, it was overcast, foggy, and rainy, but the birds were on the move.  Early in the morning, we killed some more teal and a few redheads.  I even managed to cut my first canvasback and widgeon hen.  By mid-morning, small groups of mallards began showing up.  We haven't seen to many mallards since opening weekend, but with the cooler weather and three days of northwest winds, some have finally started showing up.  We had a few groups work, and had one group of 8 set up and the bottom 4 were in our face.  We ended the day with 6 mallards, teal, red head, canvasback, widgeon, and gadwall.  We filled our 3 limits of birds shortly before 11 and waited out the canada geese till 12.  Like the past 4 days, the geese landed and fed in a cut corn field nearly a mile away.

duck migration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday was my wife's first ever waterfowl hunt.  We had high hopes after the hunt we had on Tuesday.  Right off the bat, two teal came in and she dropped her first every duck.  Luckily she shot well, because we never drew the gun the rest of the day.  In total, we probably saw 50 ducks on the day.  A total reversal of the day before.  I'm not sure what has happened to good duck migration we had a day earlier.  They either moved on, or wised up!

 

duck migration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cold front is coming tomorrow afternoon.  It will bring us some of the coldest temperatures of the year.  Sunday is forecasted to have a high in the lower 40s and some snow showers are possible.  Those cold temps should have birds on the move and hopefully bring down a fresh duck migration from the north.  Time will tell!!!!

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We need colder weather…..

It’s been a slow week of waterfowl hunting in south central Illinois.  Nearly every day this week we’ve had temps in the 60s with a 20+ mph south wind.  Definitely not conducive to waterfowl hunting.  We managed to scratch a few out through the mild weather during the week and finally got into them pretty good this morning after the cold front passage and during a steady rain.  Most of our birds are stale and very few mallards are around.  We’re mostly killing green wing teal and really not seeing much of anything else.

Torry’s first ducks on November 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the warm weather this week, the ducks were flying the first hour of the day then shut down by 730.  We have been seeing a few of the local geese feeding between 8-10, but they’re very weary being resident geese.  The ducks today stayed pretty steady through 10.  We had two mallards light before shooting light, only to leave before we had a chance, then the rest of the morning was filled with small groups of teal buzzing the pit.  We shot well early then started to lose our touch.  The day finished with a mixed bag of teal, a red head, and a couple local geese.  It was nice to actually hunt with cooler temperatures and calmer winds that aren’t out of the south.

 

With three days of rain in the forecast, we should have a little better luck this week than last!

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Opening Day

This weekend was our opener at the club in south central Illinois.  With decent temps to start the morning we had high hopes.  We got everything set and just prior to shooting light we had swarms of teal, shovelers, and mallards lighting in the decoys.  As luck would have it, just a few minutes before legal light, most left.  The morning low was around 40 and the wind was at 20 from the southwest.  Our pit faces the south, so shooting was going to be tricky.  Along with the tricky shooting, filming was going to nearly impossible with rocket teal making their turn directly over me and into the rising sun.  As the first group of green wing did their thing, I quickly tried to get on them.  I wasn’t able to catch up with them until the first shots went off.  Needless to say the cameraman missed the birds, but so did the hunters!  They were trying to kill the birds as they got into the hole which means the birds were already traveling away from the guns.  After a few volleys of the same results, we adjusted to face the south and call the shot as the birds made their turn.  This allowed the hunters to start take better shots, but the cameraman was still left with the issue of the birds making the turn directly overhead.

I’ve never filmed teal.  Most of my waterfowl filming experience has been with flooded timber mallards.  They’re a challenge, but nothing like a 30mph teal with a tailwind!  We ended up getting one teal kill on film and started seeing more big ducks later in the morning.  The big ducks were making wider swings and allowed me ample opportunity to get on them through the corn stubble.  The last 5 minutes of the day led to a group of three mallards doing it right and we captured 2 of the three going down on film.  Good finish to the first day!  In total, we harvest 2 mallards, a redhead, and 4 teal.  There was good activity during the first hour, it then trailed off as the morning went on.  With all the shooting on other private ground and the local state land we expected the birds to continue to bounce around, but with a sustained 20 mph wind and gusts to 30 they stayed low through mid morning.  Most of the local goose population spent most of the day on the water as well.  We had a couple groups work, but failed to commit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a potential mallard smash for Sunday. I scouted some birds Friday morning up in the central zone.  3-400 mallards were coming off a local quarry and hitting a corn stubble field just a mile from their roost. Scott went to watch Saturday morning and the birds did the same thing.  We figured out the landowner from the plat book and found where he supposively lived.  Scott knocked on some doors and no one was home.  Finally, at the third local house, he talked to a guy who had lived in the area for a long time, but had no clue who the landowner was.  So we headed back to the club on Sunday.

 

 

 

Saturday was windy, Sunday was a near hurricane with gusts to 45.  We didn’t see many ducks.  What we did see was during the first hour and what came in didn’t leave!  With one day of filming under my belt, I had a better gameplan for day 2.  The teal again proved impossible to film, but we got a wood duck, mallard and, the prize bird of the weekend, a black duck on film.   Day 2 ended with full stomachs, 2 teal, woody, mallard, and a black duck. We didn’t see a bird the last 4 hours of the day, but ate a heck of a breakfast and got some great shots of the decoys and stuff blowing everywhere!  Quite a few snow geese started to show and there will be tons more in the coming weeks.

 

 

We’re forecasted to get a decent cold front this week which should bring a few new birds down, and looking long range, next weekend and there after is starting to look colder here and cold and snowy up north.  It’s about to be bumpin!!!

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