The arctic front that we hopes would improve our waterfowl hunting luck didn’t bring much more than snow geese with it. The Fowled Reality crew had hoped the latest cold snap would freeze small waters up north and send some mallards packing south, but we witnessed nothing more than a handfull of flocks riding the 30 mph northwest winds on Monday. What we did witness was a massive increase in snow geese in parts of central and south central Illinois. The snow geese begin pouring in from the north on Saturday and they continued through Monday. It’s hard to believe there were that many still north of us, but with the lack of ice and snow, I’m sure there are still tons up there. On Monday afternoon we saw a steady stream of snows pouring off the lake for the last hour and a half of the day. They all came out north and filled the sky as far as you could see.
We did have a little success while grinding out an all day hunt Monday with a random Canada goose that came off the refuge mid morning, never made a sound, and glided in to 15 yards. It was great to finally get our first dark goose of the year on the ground! At this point last year, we were loaded with them! This year, we’ve seen nothing more than a handful of birds that aren’t residents. We also had a good group of specks working our spread only to have another pit on the club bust into them and ruin what could have been several limits of birds in one volley. Just goes to show you the issues of public land hunting are still problems on private ground and clubs.
The cold weather didn’t do much for improving waterfowl hunting conditions in south central Illinois, but it has help further north in the central zone. Scott spotted an increase in Canada goose numbers in an area we hunt in central Illinois, so we traveled north Friday evening to take a look and see if we could get a hunt on them. Tons of waterfowl poured off the local holes and all dropped into a mine owned field just across from the roost. At dark, there was at least 1000 ducks, canadas, and specks in a cut corn field. It was impressive to say the least, but upon making a phone call, we were turned away because it is law that anyone stepping foot on mine property must have ATF and FBI clearance. Those birds are sage for now, but in short time, the field will be void of food and they’ll start looking elsewhere to feed. Hopefully in the coming days, the corn will be gone, more birds will continue to show, and we’ll be able to get on them.
The forecast for the next week looks horrible as has been the case all season. We get a cold snap for a couple days then it becomes unseasonably warm for 5-7 days. The cycle has yet to be broken, but there are signs and talk of the pattern breaking down mid month. That would leave us two weeks for chasing Canada geese.
We don’t look for much of a southward push of the remaining 300,000+ waterfowl sitting on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers to our north. Duck numbers are way above their averages and goose numbers are lacking. With just one week remaining in the south central zone, our hopes of killing many more ducks here are bleak. We have to hope for a strong push of birds into the southern zone within the next three weeks to have hope of dropping more ducks in Illinois.
Mississippi River Aerial Waterfowl Survey: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/waterfowl/surveys/Documents/MR28Dec2011.pdf
Illinois River Aerial Waterfowl Survey: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/waterfowl/surveys/Documents/IR28Dec2011.pdf
Southern Illinois Aerial Waterfowl Survey: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/waterfowl/surveys/Documents/SI27Dec2011.pdf