Snow goose hunting is some of the toughest waterfowl hunting there is. Just because there are hundreds of thousands of them doesn’t make them easier to hunt. The can provide both frustration and jubilation. It requires careful planning, attention to details, and lots of energy.

Snow Goose Migration Update – February 20th, 2014

The first large scale snow goose migration has taken place over the past 3 days, but looks to come to a screeching halt as the warmup subsides and winds turn out of the south over the weekend and into early next week. Snows have been confined to the southern states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and southern Kansas prior to this week, but south winds has pushed birds into Illinois, Missouri, northern Kansas, and even as far north as Nebraska. Look for this quick push north to slow in the next 7 days as winter returns over a large portion of the plains and midwest.

Snow Goose Migration Update

Temperatures warmed into the 50s, 60s, and 70s and the wind turned from the south starting on Monday and the snow geese responded by finally pushing into the southern half of Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas. The snow line kept most geese at bay in Illinois, but rainfall this morning and temperatures approaching 70 degrees have made quick work of the snow cover. The oldest of the adult snow geese skipped the edge of the snow pack and ventured into central Illinois. Geese that came up the Missouri side of the Mississippi had a pretty much unobstructed path into the northern part of the state where they then turn west and head towards Squaw Creek. The first snow geese began arriving in NW Missouri yesterday and their numbers continued to grow overnight and this morning before the cold front moved through. Some geese have been spotted Springfield on up to the Illinois River in Illinois with more showing up today (Friday 2/20). The largest concentration noted in Illinois seems to be in the triangle of Pyramid State Park, Rend Lake, and Carlyle Lake. Up until today, these birds were sitting not far south of the edge of the snow pack. As the snow pack has moved north today, reports of migrating snow geese have come from north of these areas. Earlier in the week, the lack of open water due to ice was limiting roosting areas for the snow geese, but with all the snow melt and rainfall today, sheetwater is everywhere and snow geese have many options. Even lakes and ponds are beginning to open up. Smaller numbers of birds remain in Arkansas, but hunters are still reporting good success in certain locations.

Further west in the Central Flyway, most areas in Kansas and Nebraska have been void of snow cover. Snow geese have been waiting for the first true warmup and south winds to begin their trek north. They’ve made their move at the same time as geese in the Mississippi Flyway and currently large concentrations of geese are in Kansas with stragglers remaining in north Texas and Oklahoma. These geese could beat the Mississippi Flyway geese that bottle neck into Squaw Creek because they’ve had a head start in getting there and the forecast for the coming week isn’t as cold as further east across Missouri and Illinois. The area was snow free on up into South Dakota before a storm moved through this morning. What little snow that did fall in Nebraska and South Dakota should be gone tomorrow as highs are forecasted to be in the 40’s.

The wild weather this past week has left two major concentrations of geese: the birds in south central Illinois fighting the recceeding snow line and the snow geese headed north through Kansas. In normal years, these geese all converge around Squaw Creek at about the same time, but the weather this year could have them arriving at two different times. The geese coming out of Illinois and eastern Missouri will have no snow pack to fight after today, but the wind is forecasted to turn out of the west and eventually NW over the week and into next week. The Central Flyway geese have an unobstructed path as well and are closer to reaching the staging area of Northwest Missouri.

The Week Ahead

Decent weather will prevail to start the weekend, but a cold front will sweep the across the plains and midwest as we move toward next week. It’s effects will more felt the further east you go. Areas in eastern Missouri and Illinois will move from near 50 on Saturday to the mid 30’s on Sunday. As we move towards next week, lows could be back in the single digits and water could start to refreeze. After a strong west wind tomorrow, winds will turn out of the NW and likely prevent any large scale snow goose migration through the forecast period. Looking long range, there is a possibility of even colder weather moving in by next weekend with many places in the single digits and some even below zero. This weather will likely lock many snow geese in areas they’re located starting tomorrow.

Snow Goose Migration Update – February 14th, 2014

The past week has been plagued by sub freezing temperatures and more snow across parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. The weather finally changed yesterday with a good south wind, clear skies, and warmer temperatures across most of the region leading to a good northward snow goose migration. Yesterday’s movement is hopefully a sign of good things to come in the next week.

For most of this past week the bulk of the snow goose migration has resided at the edge of the snow line and south. This includes areas in southern Kansas, southern Missouri, and the southern tip of Illinois with the bulk of the birds SnowGooseMigrationextending south from there. There are some pockets of adults birds there are well north into the snow line, but the masses of snow geese that characterize the spring migration remained in their locations up until yesterday. Temperatures ranged from the high 40’s to near 60 degrees in these areas yesterday and as the snow line receeded, snow geese made their move north. Great hunting was reported across all of Arkansas and even into the bootheel of Missouri. South winds, warm temps, and sunny skies are always a great recipe for a snow goose migration and hunting success.

Mobs of adults will continue to push the snow line, but flocks of adults with juvenile snow geese mixed won’t be far behind. From the reports we’ve head, these mixed flocks are showing in portions of northern Arkansas. Flocks that are predominantly made up of juvenile snow geese extend as far down as south of I40 in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Roosts have been concentrated on areas of open water, but as the weather warms, snow geese should start to spread out more as more open water comes available.

The Week Ahead

After the snow across portions of Missouri and Illinois today, temperatures look to moderate extensively and the coming week should produce the first large scale snow goose migration this year. Temperatures will range from the 50s to 70s by mid week across the areas currently holding snow geese. Outside of a few small systems, conditions should be dominated by clear skies and south winds leading to great hunting and a northward movement of the snow geese. If the forecast holds true, the snow line should be into northern Illinois and Iowa leaving Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and most of Illinois free of snow cover. If you’re planning on hunting, come prepared! It’s been a brutal winter and it’s going to take time for the ground to thaw. Stakes will be tough to get in the ground so have the drills and chargers ready. The leading edge of adults could very well move into areas along the Illinois River and even into Squaw Creek by weeks end. For snow goose hunters in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas, the next 7 days should be great!

Snow Goose Migration Update – February 5, 2014

Many conservation seasons have opened up across the country and snow goose hunters in parts of Illinois and Missouri are wondering where the geese are. The continued cold and snowy pattern that has characterized the winter of 2013/2014 has delayed the start of the spring Snow Goose migration. Look for the this slow start to continue as long as the bitter cold and snow continue to stick around.

Snow Goose MigrationWe spent the last two days of the regular goose season in southern Illinois. Good numbers of snow geese were located south of I64 on Thursday, but quite a few made the next jump north to I70. The fall harvest was above average and there is plenty of waste grain across this area, but the one major component lacking for the return migration of snow geese is available roosting areas. Most water sources remain 99% frozen. What small pockets of open water there are, are stacked with birds. The majority of the geese are roosting on the ice. Most of the snow geese located along I70 and I64 in Illinois are adults pushing against the snow line. They know it’s time to head north, but the weather is limiting them. They will continue to hug the snow line on the return migration. Even with the 3+ inches of snow that fell yesterday, many of these geese could stick around to ride it out.

These are the geese to hunt at your own risk. They’ve seen and heard it all. There are a few juveniles mixed in with them, but not many were noted in the flocks we watched late last week. The more workable groups are in far southern Illinois, southeast Missouri, and southward. At this point in the year, northeast Arkansas and the bootheel of Missouri are typically loaded with snow geese. While there are geese around these areas at this time, it is far from the normal numbers. The large concentrations of snows are in southern Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

The Week Ahead

The forecast calls for very little moderation in temperatures across most of the county. There will be a system move across the south and southern Midwest  over the weekend and another early next week. If that forecast holds true. The snow goose migration should remain locked down. There are hints of a weather pattern change mid month. Hopefully that will finally get them kicked into gear!


Here’s a look back at Fowled Reality Season 2 on a day when we shot 100 snow geese.


Snow Goose Hunting Concealment

Snow goose hunting can be some of the funnest waterfowl hunting of the year. It can also be the most frustrating. No matter how many dozens of decoys you set, if you are not hidden, then you can kiss your success good bye. Trying to fool flocks of hundreds if not thousands of geese offers an incredible challenge. As if all of the eyes weren’t enough, you could also be dealing with geese that have been around for 10 years or better. In order to have any kind of success at all, staying hidden should be priority number 1.

Layout Blind Strategies

Layout Blinds For Snow Goose HuntingLayout blinds are a great tool for waterfowl hunters. They offer the comfort of a head and back rest and will also help keep you out of the elements. Unfortunately, they can be a snow goose hunter’s worst enemy. Snow geese have a knack for picking out those rectangular coffins even when immersed in 1000+ decoys. If you’re going to use layout blinds while snow goose hunting, stubble your blinds until you think it’s good enough, then stubble it for 30 more minutes. Even then, it might not be concealed enough! When we use layout blinds for snow goose hunting concealment, we typically offset them away from the landing zone. Instead of arranging them along the leading edge of birds, we’ll set it to the side. This takes the focus off us. Snow geese feed agressively and like to land on the upwind side of other geese. Rather than having our blinds be in that area, we’ll hide off to the side of it. If you’re using windsock style decoys, being off to the side will mean the decoys will be pointed across you rather than in line with you. Decoys lined in this manner will offer more concealment across your blinds rather than in line with them. It’s far from fool proof, but it can definitely increase your odds for getting snow geese into the decoys.

White Suits

Another tactic we’ve utilized is white suits. Tyvek painters suits are readily available at Lowe’s, Home Depot, and even Walmart. They’re cheap and offer snow goose hunters the ability to lay among the spread while blending in. There are also snow suits for purchase out of regular material, but when dealing with the muddy conditions often associated with Spring, cheap throwaway tyvek suits are a better alternative. This option for concealment while snow goose hunting doesn’t offer protection from the elements, but gives hunters an un-obstructed view of all that’s going on. It is definitely a different perspective then looking through the mesh of a layout blind. Hard Core Brands is coming out with a great tool for snow goose hunters who like to lay in the decoys. Their Snow Goose Blind/Decoy Bag is basically a wedge that will offer back support and double as a decoy bag. This will help keep your upper body out of the mud and offer more comfort than simply laying on the ground. Be sure to wear a face mask and gloves if utilizing the method for snow goose hunting concealment.

Successful snow goose hunting is a lot of about numbers of decoys, but if anything rivals being #1, it is concealment. You’re dealing with a large number of geese and many of them had many numerous trips up and down the flyway and have Snow Goose Hunting Concealmentseen countless numbers of spreads. Making it appear as though you are not there is a huge part in winning the battle.



2013 Waterfowl Forecast

The 2013 waterfowl forecast has a drastically different look than last year. The weather conditions across much of the country have been a total reversal from last year. Rather than hot and dry, the conditions in 2013 have been below normal temperatures and normal to above normal rainfall in most of the plains and midwest. There are areas that have really dried out recently, but the wet start to the year has kept ponds and lakes still with plenty of water. Bag limits and possession limits have also been increased in many locations. Couple this with the 2nd highest duck survey on record and the ingredients are in place for a great season, but the 2013 waterfowl forecast is most dependent on one thing: the weather.

Food Sources

Food Sources WaterfowlMany of the crops across the plains and midwest were planted late or not at all due to the wet spring. Thousands of bottom land acres had initial plantings flooded out. The fields that have been planted will be harvested later than normal. Soybean and corn fields could still be standing as seasons begin to open. If winter starts early, some crops may not even get harvested. This will not only effect locations hunters have to hunt, but also available food sources for migrating waterfowl. If a limited number of fields have been cut, they could be loaded with waterfowl, but large numbers will likely exhaust the food source quickly.

The wet spring and early summer has also limited the moist soil vegetation bloom in flooded impoundments and banks of water sources. Unlike last year, when water levels recceeded quickly in the spring to allow moist soil vegetation to germinate, weekly rains kept water levels high and never exposed the soil this summer. This could also contribute to a lack of food sources for migrating waterfowl, but birds are resourceful and will find areas to feed in. Find the food and you will find ducks and geese.

Rainfall and Water Levels

Another contributing factor to the 2013 waterfowl forecast is the availability of water. Without water, ducks and geese have nowhere to roost and loaf. Water levels in most areas across the middle of the country have greatly improved after the 2013 Waterfowl Forecastwidespread drought of last year. In our trips to North Dakota and Sasketchewan last year we noticed numerous pot holes and ponds completely void of water. This is not the case this year! While not all locations have received above average rainfall, most have at least been near normal allowing water sources to recover. Where there’s water, there will be waterfowl and unlike last year, places that typically hold water should have it for this year’s migration.

The Forecast

After back-to-back warmer than average winters, one would have to think this year we will get one back from mother nature. It would be great to have a true to form winter that starts in December and eases up leading into February. Many of the long range forecasts are calling for an average winter. If this is the case, instead of large numbers of ducks and geese staging in areas as the season closes, they will be forced to follow the advancing ice and snow lines further south. The last two years, large numbers and Mallards and Canada Geese were left in the North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin as their seasons closed. Hunters in these areas were tortured with the site of thousands of birds in fields and a closed season while hunters to the south only heard stories of large numbers of birds. The seasons are set based off of long term reports and weather conditions. Throw a couple odd years of weather in the mix and the uproar over season dates begins. We can’t control the weather and the weather plays the biggest role in the waterfowl migration.

Most of the country is in far better shape than last year at this time. Areas that have food and water are in great shape leading into the 2013 waterfowl season. Most locations should have both, but the wild card is the crops being harvested. Early in the season food sources may be limited, but as the season progresses, more and more should come available. An early snow storm could leave a lot of crops standing in location across the northern part of the US, but would also get the migration started quickly. The unknown of the weather is what makes the 2013 waterfowl forecast difficult. It is the most important aspect of the migration and is the one that is the most uncontrollable for a waterfowl hunter.