Snow Goose Migration Update – February 26, 2016
The warmup last weekend made for a big northward push in the snow goose migration. Snow and ice line pushing adults covered a lot of ground and the younger non-breeding snow geese are slowly making their way north well behind the older class birds.
Record high temperatures last weekend sent many geese in the Central Flyway well into Nebraska and very near the South Dakota border. This week, geese have been trickling into South Dakota where hunt able numbers can be found, but hunt at your own risk. These are the leading edge geese that are 10+ years old and have seen it all. Successfully decoying them is the greatest challenge in waterfowl hunting. Bigger numbers of geese are currently back into Nebraska, southwest Iowa, and down into Squaw Creek. The latest survey (2/24/16) from Squaw showed over a half million geese currently on the refuge. With open water everywhere else in the area, it’s safe to say there is well over a million geese currently staging in northwest Missouri, northeast Kansas, southeast Nebraska, and southwest Iowa. The number of geese currently in the area might be at it’s peak for the year with no snow or ice to block to the north for now. Snow geese seem to be hitting the area for a couple days then continuing on their way north. There are still a good number of geese that will cut west out of Illinois to head to the Squaw Creek area, but many birds that are currently at Squaw will make their next move this weekend with the warm weather in the forecast.
In the Mississippi Flyway, a huge push of geese north happened late last week and weekend. When the dust settled this week, the backend of large numbers of geese pushed into central Illinois leaving the southern half of the state down into the Bootheel of Missouri, and Arkansas with random pockets of younger geese. They’re hit and miss, but where they can be found, good success is happening. For those waiting on these pockets of geese to move north, it’s a waiting game. While the adult snow geese will migrate at just about any time with decent weather, the younger geese tend to take advantage of the warmth and good south winds. With the weekend and early next week forecast, a good push of younger birds could take place in the next 4 or 5 days out of Arkansas and into southeast Missouri and southern Illinois. Temperatures will climb well above normal and are prime for a juvenile snow goose push. At this point in the migration, a flight day of young geese might not mean seeing 30+ flocks in a day, especially with the reports of a lack luster hatch, but seeing a dozen flocks of young geese in a day might mean you shoot into 10 of them. The number of geese seen will be well below numbers when hunting the leading edge, but the percentage of flocks you shoot into will skyrocket.
“Low numbers turned into no numbers the middle of this week, but mid-morning today (2/26), new flocks started pushing in from the south. We’ve had a great hunt so far today and things should only continue with the warmth and wind this weekend. Good luck everyone” – Sean Herrick Willow Creek Waterfowl
The Week Ahead
Warm weather will be the rule this weekend and into early next week. The next meaningful storm across the country looks to arrive around Tuesday. It’s anyones guess as to what it will bring. Right now there appears to be snow somewhere along the I80 corridor. As with any forecast, it’s all subject to change at a moments notice. If snowfall were to drop along this corridor, it will likely force geese south out of Nebraska, South Dakota, and western Iowa because of covered food sources and the cold air behind the system. The weekend warmup could lead to the front edge of the snow goose migration knocking on the North Dakota border. If this happens, some geese might get stuck north of the snow line.