Follow the duck migration with hunting videos and weekly migration reports.

Waterfowl Migration Update November 27, 2013

A series of sharp cold fronts over the past 10 days pushed some of the waterfowl migration further south as water began to freeze up across areas of the upper midwest and central plains. The colder weather and north winds have brought good success to hunters across much of the country, but temperatures look to rebound slightly as we move through the weekend.

Duck Migration

After above normal temperatures a week ago, the first in a pair of arctic cold fronts swept across the country from Canada starting last Thursday. Temperatures dropped 20-40 degrees in most locations and a strong north/northwest wind accompanied the front. Water sources began freezing quickly across the Dakota’s, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska. As the front continued south, small bodies of water locked up across Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Early migrators such as teal, pintails, and gadwall have made their way into southern Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, southern Missouri, and Arkansas. The leading edge of the large numbers of mallards have migrated into Nebraska, Missouri, and northern Illinois. Over 1 millions ducks have been surveyed across the managed areas in Missouri with 3/4th’s of them being mallards. In Illinois, the waterfowl migration seems to be sticking close to the rivers thus limiting the number of waterfowl surveyed across areas such and Rend Lake and Carlyle Lake. Their numbers have been dramatically lower compared to past years while the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers have been above average. Will those trends change is the question as we enter the heart of the waterfowl migration.

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration Survey

Illinois River Waterfowl Migration Survey

Mississippi River Waterfowl Migration Survey

You hear waterfowl hunters talk about the stages of the migration. There are calendar, ice, and snow line waves. The calendar birds have migrated their way into southern parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and into Arkansas. The ice line Waterfowl Migration Snow Cover 11-27mallards are stacked across northern Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas, but then there is a large gap until you get to the snow birds. Snow cover is limited in most areas all the way into North Dakota. Even though small bodies of water are frozen solid across the Dakotas, the Missouri River remains open. The latest survey from South Dakota hasn’t been release yet, but the number of mallards on the river will be staggering. They will continue to ride out the winter there until the river freezes or snow covers the abundant food sources along the river.

 

 

Goose Migration

Canada geese have been migrating in daily in areas of South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and northern Illinois. The sub-freezing weather has many of them on the move even with the lack of snow cover in many places to the north. This year, we’ve seen the furthest southward push this early in a number of years. While the amount of snow cover isn’t abundant, dark geese still seem to be on the move. Hopefully this is a sign they know what winter has in store and they will continue to migrate south.

 

Snow Goose/Specklebelly Migration

Snow geese continue to be spread across much of the country all the way from the Dakotas to Arkansas. There are pockets of larger concentration all throughout the migration while specks have been noted across Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. This past weekend, southern Illinois and southeast Missouri picked up a large influx of migrating specklebellies.

 

The Week Ahead

The temperatures look to moderate over the next 7 days as the weather pattern reloads. Look for some frozen water to thaw by the middle of next week and waterfowl may scatter as new resources become available. The next weather system appears to start effecting the central plains by next Tuesday.  As always, the weather will warm ahead of the system, then a sharp cool down as the low pressure moves through. For waterfowl hunters across the central part of the US, the amount of snow accompanying the system will determine how many waterfowl will migrate.

Waterfowl Migration Update November 15, 2013

A large arctic front moved across the country earlier this week and spurred a good waterfowl migration in many areas, but some places were left wondering where the ducks are. The front, which dropped temperatures 20-30 degrees in many places began it’s push south on Sunday. Not much precipitation was involved, but the drop in temperatures and strong north winds pushed many waterfowl south.

Duck Migration

The bulk of the good reports came from the central flyway where many teal, shovelors, gadwall, pintails, divers and even early mallards were reported moving into Nebraska, Kansas, western Missouri, and Oklahoma. Large concentrations of mallards made a move from southern Canada and North Dakota into South Dakota. Most water sources in North Dakota and Canada are predominantly frozen, but this weekend’s warmup could open some water back up briefly before another system ushers colder temperatures back in.

Across the Mississippi flyway, little ducks and divers made moves in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas. We hunted the Missouri River in central Missouri and saw numerous flight birds the first couple hours of the morning, but then they stopped. With the approaching full moon, many ducks decided to migrate Tuesday night under clear skies. This left many hunters wondering why they didn’t see a migration. The ducks did migrate, just not during the day when it could have been noticed. The Illinois River Valley, which was holding over 800,000 ducks drop nearly 300,000 birds this week. The “mass exodus” was even captured on radar as pointed out by the biologist that surveys locations across Illinois. Larger numbers of mallards are currently in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Illinois Survey Biologist’s Blog

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration Survey

Illinois River Waterfowl Migration Survey

The Mississippi River survey has not been updated as of 11/15/2013

Missouri habitat and waterfowl survey

Snow Goose/Specklebelly Migration

Lots of reports of snow geese arriving in Arkansas have come in this week. They took advantage of the strong north winds behind the front and made their way south. These are leading edge birds and the rest of the snow goose migration is strung all the way north into the Dakotas. As the weather gets colder, these large concentration will continue their trek south through Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois.

Goose Migration

The large numbers of Canada geese are located across the Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Some of the early migrators were seen in parts of Nebraska, Iowa, and northern Illinois. The areas they’ve entered tended to be their stopping point the last couple years. In order to get the goose migration further south, we need sustained cold temperatures and snow to cover their food source.

Next Week’s Weather

The weather this week looks seasonal after a brief cool down behind a cold front on Sunday and Monday. Just like the last front, this one looks to not have a lot of moisture in the cold sector with it which will limit the snowfall potential. Strong north and northwest winds will accompany the backside and coupled with the full moon, some waterfowl could migrate, but we don’t expect a large movement of birds over the course of the next week.

Waterfowl Migration Update November 8, 2013

The south central waterfowl hunting zone in Illinois opens up this weekend so it’s time to start our weekly waterfowl migration updates for 2013/2014. Expectations this year are high with the number of waterfowl surveyed over the summer and the cool start we’ve had to fall. Hopefully mother nature will continue to cooperate and this year will be a great year for waterfowl hunting.

Duck Migration

Waterfowl Migration 2013

A series of fronts over the past couple weeks has the duck migration in full swing. Pintails, teal, and gadwall are numerous across much of Missouri and Illinois. There has even been a few positive reports out of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas of good numbers of ducks already this year. Pockets of mallards do exist across these areas as the calendar birds begin pushing south. The big groups of mallards that every waterfowl hunter dreams of are currently across the southern tier of Canada and the Dakotas. Temperatures are dipping below freezing at night and small bodies of water are icing up only to thaw during the day as temps rise above freezing.

Snow Goose/Specklebelly Migration

Light geese are strung out from the Dakotas all the way to Arkansas just as the ducks are. A good number of migrating geese and specklebellies have been moving through our part of Illinois this week and should continue to do so in the future as large concentrations have still been reported all the way to the Canadian border.

Canada Goose Migration

The leading edge of migrating Canada geese have been noted across the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Let’s hope this year us “southerners” get a crack at them after missing out the last two years.

Next Week’s Weather

The weather this week looks to continue the waterfowl migration southward. A storm system from the north-northwest will move across the central plains and midwest during the middle of the week. Colder temperatures and even snow are being talked about. It doesn’t appear to be a huge system that will blanket a large area, but could leave a narrow band of snow in it’s wake.  The drop in temperatures should lock up bodies of water in Canada and many areas in North Dakota other than the rivers. Snow cover is missing all the way across the border into Canada, but as water freezes some birds will move south.  As cold air and snow cover begin to build in central Canada, it looks to be only a matter of time before the waterfowl migration gets into full swing as we approach the winter months.

Starting The Season In North Dakota

The waterfowl surveys that took place during the summer left everyone with high hopes for the 2013-2014 waterfowl migration. We were no different, as we made the 1000 mile trek to the Prairie Pothole Region last week. Mother nature quickly reminded us she is in control, but with hard work, a ton of miles, and a some luck, we were able to pull off a great week of waterfowl hunting.

North Dakota Waterfowl HuntingIt quickly became apparent, upon first arriving in North Dakota, the number of waterfowl in the area was down and the number of hunters was up compared to our trip last year. The first afternoon of scouting led us to a lake with a good concentration of ducks and geese, but the activity of birds dropping into the lake led numerous other hunters to the area as well. Some had the courtesy of not watching the same field as us, while another simply pulled up beside us and said they were headed in to setup right beside our truck. After driving in circles for three hours inside the same 10 square miles, we knew the week was going to be an uphill climb.

The lack of waterfowl in the area was only one of many limiting factors. The weather in our location was great with lows below freezing and highs around 40, but the temperatures further north into Saskatchewan were warmer than what we were experiencing. Waterfowl hunters know to be more concerned about the forecast north of them more so than at their location. Another detrimental element was the lack of cut corn. When we first arrived, there was virtually 0 acres of cut corn in an hour any direction of where we were hunting. This left cut soybean and wheat fields as hunting locations. The short stubble in these fields made concealment a huge issue. As the week progressed and a few corn fields began to get cut, the hunting improved.

We learned last year that Mallards in North Dakota love a fresh cut corn field. This led us to search for combines and corn while scouting rather than ducks. If we found a combine running in a corn field, chances were ducks would be in it within Scouting Ducks24 hours. Scouting ducks in North Dakota is tough because of the mass number of potholes that are secluded. Sure you can drive the roads and look at water that is within site, but chances are the number of ducks on those bodies of water is not a true representation of the number of ducks in the area. Scouting for ducks during the day was virtually a waste of time. The best time was the last two hours of the day. The morning flight during the week seemed to be limited, but if there were ducks in the area, you could be they would be in the air just before and at sunset. This left us with a short window of time to plan for the next day’s hunt. To put all these pieces to the puzzle together took a ton of effort from all of us.

We arrived at one of the first cut corn fields we found one afternoon and just so happened to see a small flock of ducks emerge from standing corn a couple hours before dark. The half of the field near the road was harvested, but the interior half was still standing. We pulled in the lane nearby and crossed our fingers. As the afternoon progressed, bigger and bigger flocks emerged from the corn, would fly around, and drop back into where they came from. Through the use of aerial maps, we were able to see there was a small pothole a half mile back from the road. As the sun fell lower into the sky, the flocks, which were now 30-50 birds large, started to pile into the cut portion of the field. Instantly we began brainstorming on where to hide and how to access it. As darkness fell over 1000 mallards has given us the “X” for the next day. The corn stubble offered easy concealment, we deployed our 7 dozen full body Hard Core Mallards, and had an awesome hunt that afternoon!

The rest of the week was spent searching for harvested corn and we were lucky enough to find it. We were led away from the large concentration of waterfowl which cut down on hunting competition. Sure, we didn’t see as many waterfowl as we would of had we stayed in the area we started in, but we’ll take smaller numbers of unpressured ducks versus larger numbers that see decoy spreads in every field.  The ducks we were lucky enough to locate seemed to be locals that had not moved out yet. They knew where to hide and where they were safe, but they couldn’t resist leaving that safety for a belly full of corn.  The whole freelance hunting experience is something that every waterfowl hunter should try. It takes a ton of planning, hard work, and little sleep, but the reward you get when the stars align provides a feeling unmatched in any other hunt. We can’t wait to share our story from North Dakota this coming spring when we unveil Fowled Reality Season 3.

Duck Hunting Hevi-Metal

Waterfowl Migration Update January 24, 2013

Waterfowl Migration SurveyWaterfowl Migration SurveyWaterfowl Migration

As the regular waterfowl hunting season begins to draw to a close across the country, we are going to begin to shift our focus on waterfowl migration reports toward snow geese. The wild swings in temperature over the past week has many ducks and geese yo-yo-ing back and forth. The weather over the next few days looks to continue that trend.

 Duck Migration

Waterfowl MigrationDuck season is now closed across most states. Those that are still open, will end this weekend. With no major weather system forecasted across the country, ducks will likely not make any large scale migrations as the season ends. Areas that are currently frozen should stay that way, and little if any new water should freeze over the last few days of the season. Large numbers of ducks have been noted across their typical wintering grounds across the southern tier of the United States.

We recently hunted late season mallards with C&L Outdoors in Southwest Missouri. Late season birds are call/decoy shy. Our success was attributed to light calling and small decoy spreads. At this point in the year, waterfowl have seen and heard it all. Mix it up, give them a different look, and only call as a last resort.

Goose Migration

For the second year in a row, the lack of snow cover has left many wondering where the Canada Geese are. Areas like central and south-central Illinois and Missouri picked up a few honkers shortly after Christmas when they migrated as a brief cold snap was accompanied by some snow. Shortly after, temperatures warmed and the snow melted which sent the leading edge of the Canada Goose migration back north. Since then, no notable waterfowl migration of Canada Geese has occurred.

Snow Goose Migration

Snow Goose MigrationWe are quickly approaching the Spring Snow Goose Conservation Season. Unlike last year, it appears as though most of the snow geese have migrated south of I70 across Missouri and Illinois. There have been a few reports of birds north of that line, but not many. Warm temperatures last weekend led to a northward waterfowl migration of snow geese, but many quickly returned south as single digits lows impacted many locations across the Midwest. One of the keys aspects of the snow goose migration is the snow line. True snow cover can’t be found until you reach South Dakota and Minnesota. Snow geese will typically push north until they reach the snow line. With the snow line that far north, look for snow geese to begin to push north quickly as we begin to make our transition to warmer temperatures. Of course, the snow line is subject to change quickly if any weather systems move through. The one aspect that might hold them for the time being is the cold temperatures and frozen water. Cool to seasonable temperatures are forecasted for much of the Midwest through the weekend, but then a warmup is forecasted for early in the week. This could send birds north on Monday and Tuesday in time for the opening of the Conservation Season on February 1st in Illinois and Missouri. As is the case with snow geese, the leading edge of birds is typically all adults. Hunt at your own risk!

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration Aerial Survey

 

Be sure to check out our “Sizzle Reel” for the upcoming season 2 of Fowled Reality.

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