The south central Illinois waterfowl zone duck season has closed and it finished much like the last few weeks with little to no migration. The continued lack of snow, ice, and cold kept the bird in the northern parts of Illinois and even into Wisconsin. The aerial waterfowl surveys from last week counted over 300,000 ducks remaining in survey locations along the Mississippi and Illinois River. These numbers are three times the 10 year average for the corresponding date in previous years. As all waterfowl hunters know, until the prolonged cold, snow, and ice arrive to the north, the ducks will remain there. If the ducks stick it out up north, then you know the geese are in those parts if not even further north. Look for things to change late this week. Southern Illinois numbers are near their 10 year average, but the goose numbers are incredibly low. Just 3000 birds were surveyed compared to the 5 year average of over 79,000. The latest arctic front will bring cold with it as well as our first substantial wide spread snow accumulation. This should finally get the birds from their northern reaches and send them south! With just three weeks left in the goose season for the central, south central, and southern zones, this front couldn’t come at a better time. Hopefully, it will give the south zone waterfowl hunters a chance to get into some late season mallards and bring those of us further north a chance to kill some geese. This should also finally shove the snow geese south of us and set up a good conservation order season starting February 1. It is yet to be seen if the latest cold shot will last. This season has been marked with 2 day cold spells followed by a week of warm. Hopefully, with this one finally dropping snow, the cold will stick around, at least to our immediate north.
Aerial Survey Waterfowl Migration Updates
Mississippi River Aerial Waterfowl Survey: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/waterfowl/surveys/Documents/MS04Jan2012.pdf
Illinois River Aerial Waterfowl Survey: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/waterfowl/surveys/Documents/IR04Jan2012.pdf
Southern Illinois Aerial Waterfowl Survey: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/waterfowl/surveys/Documents/SI09Jan2012.pdf