The weather man last night said the magic words, ARCTIC FRONT! The said front is scheduled to make its arrival Sunday and bring with it strong NW winds that will hopefully bring some new birds south. The sticking point with the front will be the lack of precip. We have to hope the drastic drop in temperatures and strong winds will get the birds moving south out of the central and northern parts of Illinois and Missouri. There should be a bunch of water locking up in ice starting Sunday night, but the fields will stay open due to no snow with the front. I wouldn’t classify this as a banner arctic front, but a 20 degree drop in temps is pretty substantial and hopefully help the duck hunting, especially this year.
Forecast for Quincy, IL Saturday 55/36 Sunday 42/24 Monday 32/18
Peoria, IL Saturday 51/37 Sunday 41/24 Monday 28/16
The surveys for Illinois late last week showed what we all knew, plenty of birds still hanging to our north along the Mississippi Flyway. With the northern and central zones closed in Illinois and now the northern zone in Missouri complete, the birds are loving life with no hunting pressure, open water, and plenty of food in these areas. Over 200,000 mallards are sitting on refuges and survey locations along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Over 300,000 total ducks still in these areas. The numbers have decreased some over the past couple weeks due to a few birds continuing their trip south, but numbers are well above their 10 year average due to the unseasonably warm temps we’ve been experiencing. Due to this, Canada goose numbers are awful! We traveled to West Central Illinois on Monday in search of the elusive honker. Very few birds were spotted. Most of what we did see were still residents with a few northern birds mixed in. It sounds like bigger numbers of Canada geese are around the I-80 corridor and on north. With the frozen tundra of Green Bay only receiving 4 inches of snow so far this year along with many other locations throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota, there is no reason for the big birds to make their trip south.
Illinois River Waterfowl Survey: http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/fieldstations/forbes/2011/il12232011.pdf
Mississippi River Waterfowl Survey: http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/fieldstations/forbes/2011/ms12232011.pdf
**Surveys courtesy of the Illinois National Historical Survey
We did get a little late Christmas treat on Tuesday with a half inch of snow at the club. The white stuff had the birds on the move early, but it melted off by 8 and everything stopped flying. We were able to take a Mallard and a couple Gadwall early. One thing that was strange, was the lack of snow geese. The lake is usually covered with them by this point, but there was none to be found. Only some specklebellies, the resident geese, and small group of new lessors were around. Unfortunately, the lessors only flew circles over the lake and never came out.
The Fowled Reality crew will be scouting in search of birds tomorrow to hopefully line up a Saturday hunt somewhere. Then on Sunday and Monday we’ll make a trip south to Pyramid State Park where they’ve been killing a few birds and hopefully this “Arctic” front will bring in some new ones!
Waterfowl hunters across Missouri and Illinois are accustomed to having huntable goose numbers by this point in the season, but this year we are stuck with hunting resident geese so far. There are signs of changes coming. Big changes! Unfortunately, it’s not right around the corner, but it appears winter will finally make an appearance by mid month. When it does finally arrive it looks to lock in for a while. One index meteorologist use is the NAO index. To keep it simple, when this index goes negative, the midwest experiences cold temperatures. With the cold comes snow. When it snows, and sticks around, we kill geese! This index is forecasted to finally go negative somewhere around the 10-13th of January! Let’s hope the forecast holds true! If it does, these parts of the Mississippi Flyway will hopefully experience good goose hunting the final two weeks of the season!
***Courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center
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Take a look at our Partners page to see our current partners and keep checking as we will be adding more in the coming weeks.
Happy New Year to all and let’s hope the arrival of the New Year brings fresh birds from the north!