The ice man is on his way! A true arctic cold front is sweeping across the mid-section of the country and waterfowl are already on the move south. Many have been migrating out ahead of the front, while others are waiting to ride the hard northwest winds. The hunting over the next week will likely be the best many of us have experienced so far this season!
The cold front mentioned above is currently making it’s way through Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Behind it are strong northwest winds and temperatures that will likely remain the same or even fall during the day. Abundant temperatures below zero will blanket Canada and western North/South Dakota while areas further east will be above zero, but still bitter cold. Areas north of I-80 will likely remain below freezing for the foreseeable future and a reinforcing arctic punch looks to move in over the weekend. These are the kinds of temperatures that make quick work of open water. Look for nearly everything other than large river systems to turn to ice across a large portion of the country. Combined with the bitter cold will be a deep blanket of snow across North Dakota and the northern half of South Dakota. Some birds will likely ride it out along the river here, but plenty will head south. The combination of snow and ice will likely lead a large number of mallards settling in just south of the snow line. There will be another large number of birds that wind up along the ice line which could setup along the I70 corridor.
A reinforcing shot of snow will fall in northern Illinois and Wisconsin and continue to push birds south through eastern Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. Many reports of migrating ducks and geese are already coming in ahead of the front that will push across these areas today. Temperatures will rebound in Missouri and Illinois by the weekend, but will only return to near normal.
When all is said and done, there will be a large push of new ducks and geese all across the country. Only the hardiest of birds will remain across the Dakotas. If they don’t migrate south in this weather, they won’t and as we all know, there are more and more of them every year that stay up there. Waterfowl hunters across the country should have some great hunts over the course of the next 5 days. Subfreezing temperatures will likely reach all the way to the Gulf of Mexico by Friday. Find open water and a food source and you’ll find birds. This is the weather we all dream about the entire off season!