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.

Arctic front to help improve waterfowl hunting?

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: 

Mississippi River Waterfowl Survey:

**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.


waterfowl hunting







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!

NAO Index:

***Courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center

Fowled Reality is working hard at finding partners to work together to promote products and waterfowl hunting as well as help spread the Fowled Reality name.

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!

All I want for Christmas is cold weather and the waterfowl migration moving south

The waterfowl migration continues to be stuck in the rut of unseasonable weather!  A couple of the Fowled Reality crew grinded out an all day hunt at the club Wednesday and barely came home with anything other than a full stomach.  We saw very few ducks in the air throughout the course of the day.  What we did see, was mostly between 11 and 1.  They're educated and knew where they were going.  We continue to see ten of thousands of snow geese every hunt and they're active throughout the day. Southern Illinois is also holding a good number of Specks.  It seems like their numbers have continued to climb the last few years.  We were even lucky enough to take an immature speck yesterday during the middle of the day.  Had it not been for him, we wouldn't have fired a shot!

Yesterday, we went out for a few hours hoping the north wind and sub freezing temps would bring some birds south, but it didn't.  We only saw a handful of ducks and saw next to nothing on the lake and refuge.  The Canada geese continue to chow down on grass and have no need to fly out to feed. Without a a prolonged cold snap, the waterfowl migration isn't going to bring us many more ducks before the season ends.

The Illinois DNR didn't fly surveys this week due to the bad weather.  From what we've seen and heard, there hasn't been much change in numbers since last week.  There is still open water and now snow up north and excess of rain from southern Illinois and Missouri down through Tennessee and Arkansas.  The ducks that are down here on the Mississippi Flyway and scattered everywhere and this will continue for the forseeable future.  We'll continue to drive everywhere we know in search of birds.

Regardless of having huntable numbers of birds or not, now is the time to re-prioritize. We've hunted hard the first 6 weeks of the season and have had some great hunts and some bad ones.  Tis the story of waterfowl hunting.  None of these hunts would be possible without our wives and family.  They're the ones that support what we do, help with watching the kids, and have dinner waiting when we get home.  They're the ones that make it possible and for the next few days, it's time to put up the guns and cameras and spend time with them over the Holiday.  Being stuck south of most of the birds with the lack of weather we've had makes these next few days a little easier to take, but it will be nice to have a break.  Now, that's not to say we won't go out of our way while traveling to family functions to check a local lake or pond just for future reference!  Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!


Come on snow send the waterfowl migration south!!!

Mississippi Flyway Waterfowl Migration – December 18, 2011

It’s been a rough week of waterfowl hunting in central parts of the Mississippi Flyway.  Blake took off with the Muddy Dog Outdoors crew for Reelfoot Lake on Tuesday and Chris and Kevin were schedule to join on Firday. Despite local reports of a lack of a meaningful waterfowl migration, we had the trip planned for two months based on this timeframe being the peak of their waterfowl numbers the last couple years.  The lack of cold and snow through parts of the north has prevented many ducks from making it that far south.  We hunted with our buddy Jeff Huff of Huff’s Guide Service on the lake and the reports of few birds held true.  We managed to scratch out 8 birds over the course of the three days we were down there.  We saw a decent amount of birds, but for Reelfoot, the number was minimal.  Most of the ducks we saw were divers with a few Pintails and Mallards.  It was eye opening to see the different techniques used to take birds.  The High Ball is king on the lake and spreads of 1000+ decoys are the norm.  We had a great time and enjoyed getting to take some birds in a new location and hope to be head back when the birds finally do arrive. The plan was to stay through the weekend, but with the lack of activity, we elected to head back home in hopes of having better luck.


waterfowl migration

The reports we received from Thursday were the birds were on the move through southern Illinois.  Large numbers of big ducks were taken all across the south central and southern Illinois waterfowl zones due to large flocks of flight birds headed south with the arrival of the latest cold front.  Unfortunately, it was a one day thing.  Where they went, we have no idea!  Friday, everything seemed to raft up with moderate temps and sunny skies.  Saturday was more of the same.  We hunted the club and only saw a few groups of ducks, with none showing interest. We did see large flocks of snows and specks migrating in from the north.  With the lack of success and low number of birds moving, we elected to spend some time with the families today and hope for better luck this week with a couple weather systems in the forecast.

Many have been asking “Where is the waterfowl migration?”.  From what we’ve seen, we had a fair number of ducks last weekend, but the full moon prevented them from moving much until last afternoon and through the night.  With the flight day this past week, they’ve moved on and it doesn’t seem like many have moved south to take their place.  Last week’s Illinois aerial waterfowl surveys show large numbers of ducks staged just north of our location along the central Mississippi River and lower end of the Illinois River.  The counts for Southern Illinois have dropped significantly from the prior week and are well behind their 10 year averages.  This is probably due to a gap in the hardy birds who are reluctant to leave the north with the lack of snow and ice and the younger birds who move with run of the mill weather systems and the calendar.  It also has to do with the abundance of high backwater and sheetwater sitting in fields through Southern Illinois.  Birds are scattered and have access to food in many locations other than state wetland areas and refuges.  The north zone in Illinois is closed and the central will soon close this coming week.  Many hunters have expressed their frustration with the DNR on their dates for the season.  It’s not their fault!  They determine the seasons based upon historical data collected via hunter surveys.  Last year at this time, snow and ice dominated the north and even central parts of Illinois.  The majority of the ducks had moved into the southern part of the state.

Illinois River Aerial Waterfowl Survey:

Mississippi River Aerial Waterfowl Survey:

Southern Illinois Aerial Waterfowl Survey:

*Illinois Aerial Waterfowl Surveys courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

This year has been totally different, both weather wise and numbers wise.  The following link shows the snow cover difference on the same date in 2010 and 2011:

You can drive to Canada and not see snow cover!

Digging a little deeper into the lack of cold and snow shows large numbers of birds hanging out way north of us.  Wisconsin had started to freeze and get some snow, only to warm back up and lose both.  Open water and food means ducks and geese will continue to hang out.

For even more evidence, let’s take a look at South Dakota.  Over 270,000 ducks remain up there. Bottom line: We need snow and an extended period of cold up north to finally get the masses of Mallards into our parts of the Mississippi Flyway.  With the large number of ducks still to the north, you know the honkers are up there too.  We’ve seen very, very little number of honkers other than the locals.  At this point last year, we were killing geese and had huntable numbers in many locations. The way things are going, it could be a fast and furious goose season.  We have 6 weeks left, and no cold and snow in sight.  If/when that finally does happen, the geese will make their move south and the honker hunting will finally get hot.  If it doesn’t happen soon, our hopes of filling straps with greenheads will be gone.

We’ve scoured the area in search of ducks with very little success.  Many miles have been driven and it’s been nothing but a waste of time.  This is the point of the season where it really gets tough.  We look forward to this time of year for months.  Now that it’s here, we are in a holding pattern.  The best we can do is continue to watch to the north and spend time with the families while the hunting is slow.  The Fowled Reality waterfowl season “Grind” has come to a halt, but we’re one weather system away from things heating back up and sending the waterfowl migration south!

For the latest migration updates keep checking “The Grind” as well as the Fowled Reality Migration page.

Mississippi Flyway Waterfowl Migration – December 13, 2011

The see-saw temperatures continue through the heart of the Mississippi Flyway.  Last weekend, lots of water locked up with temps in the teens, but now, just 5 days later, the forecast calls for rain and highs in the mid 60s.  We are reading lots of reports asking where is the waterfowl migration.  From what we are seeing, there is a good number of birds in central Illinois, but they aren’t everywhere.  It takes some scouting and drive time to put the pieces of the puzzle together and have a good hunt.  The full moon this past weekend didn’t help success/sighting either.  Birds were flying out late afternoon to feed through the night and dropping back in the roosts before shooting light.  As the full moon fades, daytime activity should pick up, but the wildcard is the warm weather.  The front should finally push through Thursday with dropping temps through the day and a 15 degree cool down on Friday.  The mallard migration map provided by the MDC shows the bulk of the greenheads in northern Missouri and central/southern Illinois.  They’re here guys and gals, you just have to work to find  and kill them.
The past two years, we have seen a good push of geese by this point in the season, but this year is different.  The lack of snow up north has kept the honkers on the norther tier of the flyway.  As you can see here: you can find bare ground all the way to the Canada border.  resourceful birds can find easily find food with no snow cover and are reluctant to continue south.  From the reports we are getting, the leading edge of geese is in Norther parts of Iowa and Illinois.  We are seeing a few enter the central part of the state, but definitely not big numbers yet.  It’s going to take a good snow storm across the north to get things going down here.  With that said, the hopes for snow up north or dismal for the forseeable future.


waterfowl migration








The Fowled Reality crew is headed to Reelfoot Lake in west Tennessee to follow the waterfowl migration.  Reports down there aren’t the greatest.  We’ve had the trip planned for two months, so we gonna head south, hope for the best, and try to find some birds.  They have an abundance of water which has scattered the birds into back water sloughs and sheet water left in fields.

For the latest Fowled Reality migration update and the MDC mallard migration map be sure to check out our Migration page.  We’ll try to update the weeks hunting on Reelfoot wifi/cell service permitting