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.

Waterfowl Migration Update – November 15, 2015

Our first waterfowl migration update of the season can be characterized by one word: slow! Other than a few stretches, Waterfowl Migration Updatetemperatures across much of the United States and Canada have been above normal. Other than calendar migrators, large concentrations of ducks remain well north of where they normally are this time of year. However, things look to change in the second half of November.

Calendar migrators, which is mostly comprised of teal, pintail, shovelors, and young mallards have been sporadically reported across many areas of the country. As always, hunting success correlates with the weather. While these ducks have been gradually making their way south, a lack of weather to make them move has led to a lack of success for many hunters. Even though birds might be around, without something to force them to fly, they hang out in the sun on water all day. Many surveys from across the country have been running near normal to slightly above in areas north of I70 across the middle of the country. South of there, surveys are more spotty. A lack of rainfall and flooded food sources has left much of southern Illinois well behind their average numbers for this time of year.

A strong system is forecast to slowly move across the country this week and leave a ton of rainfall in it’s wake. Much of that rain looks to fall across Missouri and Illinois where it is needed. This should help fill the remaining areas in need of water and create some new ones. Unfortunately, the wet spring will limit the amount of food available across a lot of this area. There should be water for resting and roosts, but food sources are going to be limited. This has limited the number of calendar migrators that have stayed for more than a day or two. An abundance of these duck have already made their way south where food is more readily available. This week’s weather system will help set the stage for a second system early next week that could possibly finally usher in colder air and kick the migration into gear. It’s too early to tell exactly when and where, but next week’s front has the potential to spur a good migration and improve hunter’s success across a large portion of the country. Hopefully the large concentration of mallards that are currently residing in southern Canada will get a nudge south into the US.

Illinois River Survey – Mississippi River Survey

We’ve had some early success so far this season. Be sure to check out our first couple videos for Realtree: “The X” as well as our debut episode of Hard Core Waterfowl TV.

Waterfowl Migration Update – December 31, 2014

We’re now entering 2015 and a lot of waterfowl hunters are glad to see December of 2014 in the rearview mirror. After a month of little to no waterfowl migration, arctic air has finally come back into the midwest and central United States and waterfowl are back on the move. How long the cold will last is anyones guess, but it’s best to take advantage of it now while we have it and the waterfowl migration is back in swing.

Duck Migration

Normal to above normal temperatures and little in the way of winter weather had the duck migration virtually stalled for the better part of 7 week. Locations that picked up ducks back in the first half of November still had the same ducks up until the past few days. Hunting success had been poor at best in most places from Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Many season are now closed and more will in the coming week. Luckily, for the homestretch of a lot of ducks hunting seasons, fresh birds made a move the past few days with the cold front. New migrations of mallards have been spotted from northern Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. There has also been an influx of new ducks into Oklahoma and Arkansas. Locations in Arkansas remain dry, but where there is water, there are ducks. A new weather system looks to effect areas along and south of I70 at the end of the week and into the weekend. Rainfall amounts across much of Arkansas could exceed an inch and will be welcome by duck hunters. Further north, there should be a swath of snow by the weekend from central Kansas into northern Illinois. The precipitation could further push ducks into southern Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, while the rainfall across Arkansas could lead to fresh food sources and thinning out the concentrations of ducks where there is currently water.

Canada Goose Migration

Just as the duck migration has been on hold, so has the Canada goose migration. Areas that were having great hunts this time last year, have yet to see much if any northern Canada geese migrate in. Good numbers of geese have remained across the Dakotas, northern Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. While the fresh cold could push some south, the lack of snowfall in these areas will likely lead the geese to stay put for now.

Snow Goose Migration

The snow goose migration has been in full swing with the mild temperatures over the past 10 days. Large concentrations of snows moved north last week and made it all the way into the Illinois River Valley and locations around Squaw Creek. The snow goose migration last week resembled something seen in mid February! Luckily, the new cold snap should force quite a few of them back south closer to their wintering grounds. Even without snow cover north of I70, many of the snow geese will make a move back south to get away from the cold. Their not as hardly as the northern mallards and Canada geese, but all it will take a a brief warmup for them to move back north.

The Week Ahead

The weather in the coming week looks to stay around normal or slightly below. The weekend system should lay a narrow band of snow down, but a lack of snow cover will remain in certain locations all the way into the Dakotas and Minnesota. The cold weather should continue to create more and more ice on large bodies of water and a trickle of migrating waterfowl could continue into next week.

Waterfowl Migration Update – December 10, 2014

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.

Waterfowl Migration Update

Duck Migration

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.

Goose Migration

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.


Be sure to check out our new Tip Video for Realtree where we discuss some late season hunting tactics.


Waterfowl Migration Update – November 26, 2014

The latest waterfowl migration update has ducks and geese scattered from South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all the way to the gulf coast. After a brief moderation in temperatures over the weekend, another strong cold front has pushed through the midsection of the country and right on it’s heels is an Alberta Clipper. A lot of the ice that formed 10 days ago has thawed out in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska with the mild temperatures and rainfall over the weekend. Waterfowl have responded by heading to the fresh resources and a few southward flight birds have been noted the past couple days riding the strong northwest winds behind the front.

US Snow Cover November 26th

Duck Migration

Large concentrations of mallards are still finding open water in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. The large rivers still have open pockets that are loaded with ducks. Further south, large numbers of mallards are in northern sections of Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Great successful has been had in corn fields in these areas. The cold weather has forced birds into the energy packed cornfields and this should continue in the near future. These areas have the highest numbers of mallards with a few other species mixed in. More on the number of waterfowl in Missouri can be found here on this migration update provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation. There is also a large number of mallards as far south as Arkansas. South of I70 in Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, numerous other species are mixed in with the mallards.

Canada Goose Migration

Canada geese have been making their way into southern Minnesota and Wisconsin and as far south as Nebraska, Iowa, and northern Illinois. In these areas, find open water and you’ll find geese and more than likely, they’ll be there with ducks. Field hunting is your best bet, but if you can find a loafing pond with open water you could have a great hunt as well.

Light Goose Migration

The light goose migration has bounced back north the past few days as temperatures have moderated. During the cold spell, most snow geese and specklebellys had made their way into Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisianna, but in the past 3 days, there have been reports of flocks streaming back north riding the south wind. The bulk of the migration is near it’s wintering grounds, but there area always a good number of geese that bounce back and forth along the snow/ice linen and they’ll continue to do so over the coming months.

After the clipper today, temperatures look to moderate across a large portion of the country. Highs this weekend should be well into the 50’s and even 60’s in areas south of I70 over the weekend. Right on the heels of the warmup is another strong cold front that looks to sweep across the country Sunday into Monday and that will be followed by another rebound of above normal temperatures. The Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin looks to stay at or below freezing over the next week. With all the back and forth in temperatures, the waterfowl migration could be very active the next week with ducks and geese bouncing back and forth with the huge range of temperatures. Be sure to check out our latest “The X” Tip Video for Realtree where we discuss how the weather effects the migration and give some strategies on hunting the changing conditions.

Waterfowl Migration Update January 24, 2014

The waterfowl migration has pushed further south than it has in years. The brutally cold winter across much of the plains and midwest has continued and with no end in sight, many ducks and geese will continue to hold up on their wintering grounds.

Duck Migration

The brief warmup last week led to some ducks migrating back north into northern Kansas, central Missouri, and central Illinois, but many quickly returned back south as single digits temperatures moved back in. Wintering grounds such as Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana continue to hold the bulk of the ducks. Ice has become an issue in many of these locations, but places with open water are holding tons of birds. Concealment is key since these ducks have been hunted since September.

Goose Migration

Canada Geese made a push back north, but have since been in a holding pattern. Good numbers of geese remain as far south as central Missouri and southern Illinois. What a difference a year makes when comparing Canada Goose numbers across Illinois. At this time last year, only 5,000 were surveyed in the southern part of Illinois. The combined snow cover and cold temperatures have this week’s survey near 70,000 honkers.  The key to success is getting the weather to hold stable and get the geese patterned. The extreme cold has them conserving energy, but with a warmup on Sunday, activity may be above what has been seen over the past week.

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration Survey

Missouri Waterfowl Migration Survey

Snow Goose and Specklebelly Migration

The adult snow geese know it’s getting close to time and have began trickling back north. Small groups have been reported in central Illinois and Missouri, but the bulk have remained south of these areas. Good specklebelly goose hunting success is still being had across Arkansas and Louisiana as they continue to hold on their wintering grounds.

The Week Ahead

As most waterfowl hunting seasons wind down this week, look for most waterfowl to stay near their current locations. Another arctic front is forecast to move across the country late in the weekend and into early next week. Some of the coldest temperatures of the year are being forecasted. Ice will continue to be an issue across many areas and with no sustained warmth in sight, the return migration will be put on hold until the weather pattern breaks. This will be our last waterfowl migration update focusing on ducks and dark geese. We will now be moving our focus on to snow geese over the coming two months.