Waterfowl seasons across the Mississippi Flyway are wrapping up and many are ending their seasons dismally. Those with seasons still open are waiting for the final push of ducks. For those of you that are waiting, they all over in parts of Illinois. While snow goose scouting and hunting, we saw large flocks of mallards and pintails utilizing the open water in parts of central and south central Illinois this past weekend. They know they’re safe and continually buzzed our snow goose decoy spread. The waterfowl migration is dependent upon weather. The cold and snowy weather will force them south. Without this weather, the waterfowl migration hangs up with no reason to leave open food sources and water.
Some new ducks have been noted by waterfowl hunters the past week in areas of southern Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky. A lot of hunters reported great success as the southern zone in Illinois ended this weekend. With no more arctic pushes in the forecast before the end of the month, the ducks have likely made is as far south as they’re going to make at least during the waterfowl seasons.
The ice and snow across portions of the midwest late last week pushed the Canada geese a little further south into Illinois and Missouri. Large numbers of canada geese were reported entering lakes between I74 and I70. A few have moved south of I70, but not many. Those in Illinois that do have Canada geese have reported sporadic success. One thing that seems common across the state is the change in feeding patterns of the geese. They seem to be hitting fields less than normal. Instead, their diet is consisting of mainly grass. This isn’t uncommon during warmer weather and earlier in the season with resident geese, but the cold weather across the state lately should have them hitting the warm foods such as corn and soybeans. This hasn’t necessarily been the case this year. They seem to be adapting to different food sources. Not good for waterfowling success this year and in the future.
SNOW GOOSE MIGRATION
The conservation order snow goose seasons across the country are likely going to be different than any other year. In normal years, the snow goose migration comes north out of Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana shortly after February 1st. They move as far north as the snow line and continue this progression through the spring. With the lack of snow and ice noted across central portions of the US. the geese will likely kick their northward migration in full gear soon.
Snow geese will move north quickly with nothing to stop them. When the migration starts, snow goose hunters best be ready because it could be fast and furious for a short time before ending. Large numbers of snow geese have been reported as far north as north central Illinois which means waterfowl hunters to the south will never have a crack a these birds. Squaw Creek NWR in northwest Missouri reported over 22,000 snow geese a week ago. This number was down from over 200,000. They likely moved south with the weather system last week, but they haven’t moved far south. Get your snow goose spreads ready because when it starts, it won’t last long for hunters in the southern half of the Mississippi Flyway.