The snow goose migration has been effected by two of the largest winter storms of the year. Over the past week, areas from Oklahoma to Northern Illinois have been blasted by back-to-back 6 inch snow storms and locations in their path has as much as 16 inches of snow on the ground. The leading edge of the snow goose migration has shifted back to the south for the time being and with the coming forecast, they could be in a holding pattern for the coming week.
The Squaw Creek N.W.R has picked up snow in the past week and seen it’s snow goose count go from over 1 million birds to just over 40,000 snow geese surveyed. The wind that has accompanied the most recent snow storm has left many hilltops in the area with little to no snow. This has allowed some snow geese to remain in the area with access to food sources. In southeast Nebraska, less snow is around, but birds are few and far between. The vast majority of the Squaw Creek birds have migrated south and southeast. Plenty are located along the Missouri River in East-centrall Missouri back through Central Illinois on the edge and on to the south. As usual, they hanging just under the snow line, but these concentrations are mainly adult birds. The juvenile snow geese that everyone loves to hunt are further south into Arkansas. The Illinois DNR surveyed nearly 100,000 snow geese last week, and that number has likely increased over the past few days as more snow fell across West-central Illinois. Outfitters in the bootheel of Missouri and in Arkansas have reported great success over the past week as the snow goose migration has continued. Hunting the past two years has wrapped up by the end of February across these areas, but this year they’re getting some bonus hunting in.
The forecast for the coming week calls for below normal temperatures. No real warmup is in the sight and the after effects of the latest storm will keep winds out of the North and Northwest through the weekend. The snow goose migration is now behind schedule which leads everyone wondering how this will effects them. They know where they need to be by when and they could migrate without the aid of warm weather and south winds. The higher sun angle of late winter will aid in snow melt even without temperatures above freezing. With Monday being the warmest day of the forecast period, they could very well make a jump north regardless of wind direction. Northwest Missouri will likely see their snow cover disappear before areas South and Southeast of it which could lead to the snow goose migration jumping over areas across West-central and Central Missouri next week. The hunting across Arkansas, Southern Missouri, and Southern Illinois will likely remain good over the next week when the snow geese begin to trickle back north.