Waterfowl Migration

The waterfowl hunting season is running short in the south central Illinois zone.  With less than a week left for duck hunting, and no good weather in sight, it appears our season will end quietly.  We’ve traveled further north into central Illinois looking for geese and have started seeing decent numbers.  In our searching, we’ve located bunches of mallard that are untouchable due to the central zone season already being closed.  Further south in Illinois, hunting success continues to be poor.  It seems as though most of the ducks have either moved south into the abundant food in Arkansas or are riding the freeze line in northern parts of Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa.


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


The bulk of the Canada goose migration continues to hang out north of us with the mallards.  The recent cold snap we had earlier this week brought a few further south, but that will be short lived with a high temperature of 65 degrees today. The broken record of a lack of ice and snow up north has continued to put a damper on our waterfowl season on the Mississippi Flyway.  The one bright spot we’ve had lately is the increase in specklebelly geese over the past few years.  We’ve been seeing more and more every year.  While they have proved to be elusive and leary of our decoy spread, they are at least in the area and give us something to watch.  Along with the specks, is a substantial number of snow geese that arrived late last week.  They’ll likely move back north this weekend with mild temperatures, but with plenty of winter left, we’ll see them move south again soon.  Our hope is we eventually get long lasting cold and snow to get all of them south of us by the start of the conservation order snow goose season starting in February.
Looking long range, a weather pattern change is on its way next week.  The cycle of a couple days of cold followed by 5 days of warm will soon break.  Time will tell if we will get locked into the deep freeze pattern, but let’s hope at least the northern parts of state will to give us a couple weeks of good goose hunting and set up our snow goose season.