The weather pattern has been stagnant over the past week and the waterfowl migration is pretty much at a standstill. Other than birds shifting on a local basis as food sources come and go, there has been no large scale migration other than some calendar birds that tend to migrate at or around the same time every year. It’s mid-December and typically places should be getting colder as we move toward Christmas, but the opposite is true this year as we continue this crazy roller coaster of weather.
In the past week, places that have had good concentrations of ducks have continued to have them. Locations such as southeast Nebraska, southwest Iowa, northeast Kansas, and northwest Missouri as well as Arkansas have been loaded with ducks since mid-November. Most of these birds have been heavily pressured and know where they’re safe in these areas. Hunting has continued to get tougher and tougher even with the large number of birds. A few calendar ducks have made moves into locations across the central US and there have been spotty reports of success. As we move closer to the weekend, temperatures are forecasted to climb well above normal in most locations. While this isn’t typically what duck hunters ask for this time of year, most will gladly take it since it could possibly make ducks think about migrating back north. There have already been reports of birds starting to trickle back the past two days as the warmup has started. Just how many will ride the south wind in the 50 and 60 degree temperatures is always the question. Is it too early in the year for a mass movement north? We’re not even to the Winter Solstice and days are short. Ducks know this, but over the past few years they’ve seemed more and more antsy to return back north.
Just as the duck migration has been stagnant, so has the Canada Goose migration. Good numbers of geese are in their usual wintering locations across the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. There are also pockets of large numbers in Nebraska and Kansas. The key to the big geese is getting nasty cold weather to get them to fly inside of legal shooting hours. Most days this past week have been mild and combined with the full moon, geese have been flying late in the afternoon. Goose hunters will need more winter like weather to move in to increase the success of their hunts.
Snow Goose Migration
If the activity of the snow goose migration the past few days is any indication of the impending warmup, then this weekend we could see a good migration of waterfowl northward. The past three days there has been snow geese moving back north in Missouri and Illinois. The weather hasn’t been all that conducive to this movement with clouds, little wind, and temperatures in the 30s, but the snow geese know the weather on the horizon and they’re always eager to head back north. As the winds start to pickup and the warmup fully gets under way, look for more snows to make this move. In past experiences, when the snow geese make a jump, the ducks typically aren’t far behind.
The Week Ahead
The weather so far in 2014 has been anything but normal. A mild start followed by an arctic cool down had the waterfowl migration move from 0 to 60 in just a few days. Since then the weather has really stabilized and other than waterfowl making small moves there really hasn’t been much large scale movement. While the weather coming in the next 7 days isn’t the typical dream forecast, at this point, most duck hunters will welcome it with open arms as it looks to at least force some ducks to migrate into new areas. As we move into next week, the weather pattern looks to become more active with a parade of storms effecting the country. One or two of those is bound to link up with cold air and lay some snow down forcing yet another good waterfowl migration.