The goose migration is highly weather dependent. In most cases snow geese and specklebellies lead the goose migration south and the Canada geese stick it out up north as long as possible. The colder it gets, the further south the dark geese move.
As was the case last year, winter has finally decided to visit now that a lot of duck seasons are closed and we’re in the home stretch of the season. The past week, winter like temperatures have gripped much of the country and finally sent some of the waterfowl migration south to where it should be. There are still plenty of ducks and geese in northern areas where the seasons are closed, but this latest cold shot has sent some birds to their typical wintering grounds. The weather the next week should continue to force some birds south, but being this late in the year, waterfowl will be reluctant to leave their current locations.
With so much of the country having their duck seasons closed, ducks are enjoying the lack of hunting pressure and are resourceful enough to find limited open water on rivers, power plants, and other ponds. There comes a point in late December where, regardless of cold and snow cover, many will stay put and that is what has happened the past 10 days. Some ducks have pushed into their typical wintering grounds in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, but numbers are still behind their averages. In the northern fringes of these areas, much of the water is frozen and has ducks concentrated on rivers, power plants, and small pockets of water that they are keeping open themselves. It’s an important reminder with this weather to not hunt the roost areas. Not only are you going to displace the concentration of waterfowl you could be hunting elsewhere, but you’re also pushing birds that could be hard pressed to find other open water. These cold temperatures will have birds hitting fields. Find the fields they are using and let them have the water.
Canada Goose Migration
An influx of Canada geese has pushed into northern Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. The cold weather has them hitting the fields
and with a little homework, hunters can figure out the pattern to capitalize. This is the first stretch of weather we’ve had this year where prolonged cold has stuck around more than a few days. Birds should be feeding heavily to get through the cold weather and to begin gearing up for the return trip.
Snow Goose Migration
As we approach the end of duck and dark goose season, it’s time to start gearing up for the spring snow goose migration. This latest cold snap and snow in the forecast this week should have a good portion of snow geese in their typical wintering locations. A winter system looks to lay snow down across the Missouri Arkansas border late this week. A lot of snow geese should be stacked up just under that snow line. This should coincide nicely with the opening few days of conservation season in Arkansas next week and give guys further north a chance to finish out their duck and dark goose seasons before the snow geese start heading north.
Be sure to watch the latest episode of Hard Core Waterfowl TV from The Badlands of Montana! Tons of honkers and a beautiful back drop!