Posts

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.

 

 

 

Video: Duck Hunting Dry Fields

Duck Hunting Video

Duck Hunting Video

In this duck hunting video, we’re in North Dakota hunting a corn field that was a hot food source the day we scouted it. This field had thousands of mallards utilizing it which was an exciting find, but ended up causing more harm than good. Duck hunting dry fields requires a different game plan than hunting over water. A hot food source can offer some great duck hunting, but it requires careful scouting and conditions that allow the ducks to return the following day. If the food source becomes depleted, chances are the ducks might not return to feed in that field again.

For field hunting, we like to run a large number of full body mallard decoys and at times utilize spinning wing decoys. If the situation allows, we will also mix in Canada Goose decoys to help with visibility. Often times, ducks will not land directly on top of goose decoys so we like to shade them to one side and allow the ducks to work front and center of the blinds.

There are times when a dry field duck hunt can go awry. Scouting to find exactly where the birds are feeding in the field and locating a place to hide can put the odds in your favor, but weather conditions can work against hunters as can the food source thinning out. The number of birds utilizing this field the day we found it ended up preventing us from having an exceptional hunt due to the limited amount of waste grain left after thousands of birds were feeding in it.

 

 

[youtubefollow]

Click The Box Above To Subscribe To Our YouTube Channel For Our Latest Duck and Goose Hunting Videos

Snow Goose Migration Update – March 8, 2013

Spring is about to finally show itself and the snow goose migration should push north in a major way over the next week. Snows are already being reported moving north in large numbers. These areas have snow now, but by the end of the weekend, the snow line will recede well to the north.

Snow Goose Migration Snow CoverOver the course of the past week, we’ve seen the bulk of the snow goose migration move from southern Missouri and Illinois into west-central Illinois and northwest Missouri. After being pushed south due to the snow, snow geese are looking to make up for lost time and ground. As of March 4, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge reported just over 275,000, but last night they reported they were over the 1 million mark. Birds are also being reported moving into southeast South Dakota and all over the rainwater basins of Nebraska. The snow line, for now, has a lot of snow geese trapped in central Illinois. There are reports of 6-10 inches of snow still on the ground in the western part of the state. The warm-up this weekend should cut into the snowpack and give the snow geese a chance to continue their trek. Guide services are all over northwest Missouri and they should do well in the coming week to 10 days. With the snow cover fading fast, open ground from Squaw into central South Dakota, and warm temperatures on the way, the snow goose migration should move quickly over the next week. They are behind schedule, they know it, and will be looking to make up for lost time.

With the exception of a weekend storm system that will move across the central US and midwest, temperatures look to be above normal. Typically if you’re experiencing above normal temperatures, that means you have a south wind of some sorts. Areas in South Dakota will even be in the 50’s next week. If you’re a snow goose hunter between I-70 and I-80, it’s time! North of I-80 will be a ton of adults for now, but with the forecast it won’t be long.

New Waterfowl Hunting Gear for 2013

New Waterfowl Hunting Gear for 2013

It’s that time of year again when companies begin unveiling new waterfowl hunting gear for the coming year. Last year we had a collection of posts regarding new waterfowl gear and we’ll do the same this year. The SHOT show was just a few weeks ago. This is an outdoor industry show where manufacturers from every outdoor industry come together. Since it takes place during the end of our season, we were unable to attend, but we’ve found some new waterfowl hunting gear for 2013 that has been put on the internet. Look for more posts on new waterfowl hunting gear in the coming weeks. Even though the season is over, it’s never to early to start thinking about next year!

Bag’Em Outdoors Windsock Decoy Bag

Bag'em Outdoors Windsock Decoy BagWhen snow goose hunting, you’re dealing with hundreds if not thousands of decoys. It requires lots of work that often takes place in muddy fields. The new windsock bags from Bag’em Outdoors gives snow goose hunters a solution for quicker transport, ease of storage, and cleaner decoys. Their new bags are made of the tough seed bag material. In the past, we’ve transported our Silosocks in 6 slot honker bags. We end up with 20 dozen in a bag and stakes poking everywhere. Holes quickly get poked through the tops of the bags and carrying 20 dozen at a time get tough. The new bags from Bag’em can carry up to 15 dozen of any windsock style bag. The tough material will not get holes poked in it from the stakes and is sturdy enough to stand on it’s Bag'em Outdoors Windsock Decoy Bagown. The 6 slot bags we used to use required two people to fill them. The material they’re constructed out of falls over on itself. Instead of one guy filling bags and the other pulling decoys, it required both people resulting in a longer tear down time. This is no longer an issue! Whether you use Silosocks, White Rocks, Northwinds, or any other windsock snow goose decoy, these bags are for you.

 

Winchester Blind Side HV

 

New Waterfowl Hunting Gear 2013

A faster shell will carry more energy upon entry, thus causing more damage and more downed game. Winchester has followed in the footsteps of other shotshell manufacturers and increased the speed of their Blind Side shell. The original was just 1400 fps, but the new Winchester Blind Side HV is now 1675 feet per second which makes it one of the fastest on the market. Way faster than the older Blind Side. The main marketing for Blind Side centers around the 6 sided shot. These shells are not filled with your standard rounded pellets, but rather small little cubes. They are said to result in faster kills and 250% more trauma. The cube shape also allows 15% more pellets to go into each shell. A typical 3 inch #2 shell carries 1 1/8 oz. of shot. The ability of the Blind Side pellets to stack tighter allows for 1 3/8 oz. of shot to go into a 3 inch #2 shell.

 

 

Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades

Mossy Oak is coming out with a new waterfowl hunting gear pattern, Shadow Grass Blades. The original Shadow Grass was great for the marsh and cattails. The new and improved pattern looks more high definition. They’ve added detail to each blade, varied the layout of the blades, and added more color. The final product offers more depth and detail than the previous version. Some grass blades on the new Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades are straight up, while others are bent, bowed, and broken over. It present a true to life representation of a typical scene you would see in a wetland environment.

New Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades

New Waterfowl Hunting Gear 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thermacell Heated Insoles

New Waterfowl Hunting Gear 2013When it comes to waterfowl hunting gear, this one might be the most important. Whether you’re standing on a cold concrete pit, a frozen corn field, or freezing water cold feet are a waterfowl hunters worst nightmare. As the mercury dips, the hunting always seems to get better. No one wants frozen feet to force them back to the house. This problem could be a thing of the past with the new Thermacell Heated Insoles. Thermacell has long been a player in the mosquito and gnat deterrent arena, but now they’re moving elsewhere. Their new heated insoles are wireless and rechargeable. No need for carrying around packages of batteries. You just need to keep track of the remote and remember to re-charge them at the end of the hunt. The beauty of these is that they offer varying degrees of warmth. You are able to control how warm or hot you want them depending on the conditions you’re hunting in. This allows the waterfowl hunter to keep from getting too warm and begin sweating. Hot hands or heat packets for insoles offer no control over the heat they put off, often resulting in sweaty cold feet. Many times, when waterfowl hunters get cold feet, it’s from sweat, not from the cold itself.

Snow Goose Migration Update February 1, 2013

Snow Goose Migration

Today marks the beginning of the conservation snow goose season across many states. Many snow geese started their migration north last week as warm weather settled in across much of the country. This northward push was short lived as a pair of cold fronts swept through the midwest yesterday. Low temperatures across portions of central Illinois and Missouri reached as low as the single digits.

Snow Goose MigrationThe leading edge of the snow goose migration was across central Missouri and Illinois. We began our scouting on Thursday and found a large concentration of birds in central Illinois. With highs in the 20’s and a 30mph NW wind, they were sticking tight together and feeding all day. As the sun set, many of them headed south rather than to their roosts. Not all of them went south last night. At day break this morning, they grouped back up and wound up in three large feeds across the area. As the day progressed, groups would get up and head south with migrating groups from the north. This continued through the day and numbers have dwindled. Further south in Illinois, there has been reports of southward migrating snow geese. Not exactly the way you would expect to be killing them from, but success is being had.

As temperatures moderate through the weekend and into next week. Look for the birds to begin to trickle back northward. It’s not uncommon for snow geese to bounce fields frequently, but what we have seen in our scouting is they’re doing it more than ever. Birds would not use a field for much more than an hour before moving on. The large groups of birds combined with the lack of food in these parts has them constantly on the move. The early harvest last year followed by rain caused much of the waste grain to germinate. There wasn’t a lot of waste grain there to begin with because of the drought. If you’re looking for the snow goose “X”, don’t waste you time. Find the most used flight lines and setup under them.

The number of snow geese around to start the season isn’t nearly as large as last year when we begin snow goose hunting on opening day of conservation season. The good news is, there are way more birds south of us than at any point in the year last year.