Waterfowl Migration Update January 10, 2013

Wild swings in temperatures has affected the waterfowl migration over the past week. We’ve gone from inches of snow cover across much of the southern portion of the state, to 60 degrees and sun just days later. Many small waters that were locked up are now thawing out and many ducks and geese have been noted heading back north with warming temperatures across much of the central United States.

Duck Migration

Waterfowl Migration OklahomaMost of the duck hunting zones in Illinois and Missouri are now closed, but many ducks remain. As the season closed in the south-central zone, if you had open water, you were killing ducks. It was a great end to the season for many duck hunters across the area. Further south where the season is still open, many ducks are still around and with the warm weather and thawing ice, many reports of a reverse waterfowl migration are popping up. The bounce back should be short lived as an arctic front and possible winter storm are slated for Sunday. Canada Geese and Snow Geese should follow along with the ducks with the coming weather.

Goose Migration

For the first time in two years, there is a huntable number of Canada Geese across much of central Missouri and Illinois. Not a ton of geese, but enough to mess with if you can find a good concentration. Patterns are tough to get on because of the swings in temperatures, but with sustained cold looking to move in, early next week should provide solid feeding patterns to hunt.Waterfowl Migration Missouri The key is to locate the “X” with the number of geese that are around. Hunting off of the field they’re using might yield a little success, but there isn’t hardly enough geese around to make it worth while.

Snow Goose Migration

With highs nearing 60 yesterday, many snow geese were northbound. Look for that trend to continue tomorrow with highs in the mid 60s and a 15 mph south wind.  Many snow geese will ride the wind and warmth north. Concentrations of snows have been noted across power plant lakes in Illinois, but the bulk of the snow goose migration has moved south of I70 which is good news for the Spring Conservation Season.

Illinois River Waterfowl Migration Survey, Mississippi River, Southern Illinois, Missouri

Waterfowl Migration Update – December 21, 2012

For the first time in what seems like forever a large bowling ball type winter storm has spurred a waterfowl migration across a large chunk of the county. The storm dropped 6+ inches of snow across portions of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin sending waterfowl southward. Even places in northwest Illinois picked up a few inches of wind driven snow. The next storm in the long range is forecasted to hit Christmas day and the day after. If it lines up with where snow has already fallen, look for the waterfowl migration to continue to pickup.

Duck Migration

Early this past week, hunting was slow, but the waterfowl migration began to pickup on Wednesday ahead of the storm. Places like Kansas and Oklahoma began to pickup birds as the system pulled together. On Thursday, the storm continued east and birds began moving out of Iowa and extreme northern Missouri. The 40 mph sustained north wind allowed them to hightail it south. With the storm now to the east, reports of southward moving waterfowl have continued today. Some Waterfowl Migrationbirds held tight yesterday in the wind and snow, but the sunny skies and north wind today have them on the move across Missouri and Illinois. The snow and freeze line birds have finally been forced to move. Areas north of a line from Kansas City, MO to Peoria, IL are not forecasted to get above freezing for the next 7 days. Water should continue to freeze and ducks should continue to migrate south over the coming days. The majority of the birds around in Illinois and Missouri are Mallards with a few puddle ducks and divers in the mix.

Only the Illinois and Mississippi River waterfowl surveys have been posted for Illinois.

Mississippi River Waterfowl Migration Survey, Illinois River, and Missouri

Goose Migration

The arrival of sustained cold weather and snow should begin to force Canada geese to migrate along with the ducks. It’s going to take more weather than what we’ve had to force them south, but what we have received is a start. Since Canada Geese are tougher than ducks, it’ll take more snow and less open water to really force them south. The weather we have received thus far is probably more winter than most places experienced all of last year. Migrating Canada Geese have been reported across Iowa and northern Illinois in great numbers. Hopefully the next weather system will continue to make them move south.

Snow Goose Migration

The majority of the snow geese have moved into Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and points south. This was about their furthest southward push last year. Unlike last year, when the spring conservation season started with many snow geese north of us, this is starting to look more promising. Good numbers of birds are in Illinois and Missouri if you’re willing to put forth the effort to hunt them without the use of an e-caller.


Waterfowl Migration Update – November 21, 2012

Waterfowl Migration Update

Unseasonably warm temperatures over the past week have slowed the waterfowl migration to a crawl. Last week, large numbers of ducks were surveyed across portions of Illinois. After hunting this weekend, many hunters are asking if the survey planes were counting decoys. This week’s surveys might have hunters asking the same questions in southern Illinois.

Temperatures have been in the 50’s and 60’s for the most part over the past week. Days have been filled with sun and little wind. Assuming the surveys are correct, the waterfowl counted have been sitting on refuges loafing all day. There has been zero weather to get them in the air. This week’s southern Illinois survey shows a drop in waterfowl migration counts, but numbers are still well above their average. The percentages of Mallards in the surveyed population continues to ride around 50%, but look for that number to be on the rise in the near term.

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration Survey

Missouri numbers continue to rise and are now over 1,000,000 birds as of their last survey. The early migrators such as Teal and Pintail continue to decline and the Mallards now dominate the majority of birds around. The bulk of the birds in Missouri are in the northern half of the state, but look for the south to see a substantial increase in birds over the next week. If you’ve never read the reports the Missouri Department of Conservation puts out, you need to. It’s way more than just the numbers!

Missouri Waterfowl Migration Surveys

The first of two forecasted coldfronts will move through Thursday night. Highs on Thanksgiving day will be near 70, but on Friday look for highs to be 20 degrees cooler with a 15 mph NW wind. Just over a week ago, the same conditions prevailed and a large waterfowl migration took place. Hopefully the same will happen with this front. The second front looks to move through portions of Missouri and Illinois early next week which will hopefully continue to force migrating waterfowl south. If waterfowl do migrate this week, they will likely be calendar birds since there isn’t going to be any heavy amounts of snow of prolonged sub-freezing conditions to our north to force freeze or snow line birds south.

Last year during the Thanksgiving timeframe there was a good push of birds with a cold front. Since it’s the same timeframe and same conditions we think the front late this week will be a good one. Let’s take a look at the setup last year compared to this year.

2011                                                                                              2012

November 25 – High 67    SSE 10 mph                            November 21 – High 64 Calm

November 26 – High 64     SSE 12 mph                           November 22 – High 69 S 10 mph *Forecasted

November 27 – High 42     NW 13 mph                          November 23 –  High 49 NW 15 mph *Forecasted

A 20 degree temperature drop happened this time last year and limits of Mallards and Pintails were killed. Hopefully the same thing happens this year and then the front next week coupled with the full moon will continue the waterfowl migration early next week.

Be sure to check out our first teaser video for the upcoming season. It was filmed in North Dakota with the guys from Muddy Dog Outdoors. We had an outstanding week of hunting in the Prairie Pothole Regions killing mallards in corn fields.



Waterfowl Migration Update – November 13, 2012

Waterfowl Migration Update

Our season finally opened at home in the south central zone in Illinois. Opening day dawned with a forecasted high of 79 and a 25-30mph south wind. Unfortunately, the weathermen were correct. Hunters across the area experienced mixed results. The managed state areas had some birds and hunters that were drawn early enjoyed some success. A few groups of flight birds began to show up across the area on Sunday as the latest cold front waterfowl migrationapproached. Most areas received at least an inch of rain which helps lessen the remaining effects of the summer drought. The cold front not only brought rain, but also a 25+ degree drop in temperatures and a wind shift to the north. The drop in temps and northerly winds brought with it a good waterfowl migration. Numerous new groups of Pintails, Wigeon, Shovelors, Gadwall, and divers entered southern Illinois. There were even some Mallards beginning to show up. Many think this is the leading edge of greenheads with the best yet to come as winter sets in. There was also an influx of Snow Geese and Specklebellies with the cold front.  We enjoyed a good hunt post coldfront with 7 Mallards, 4 Gadwall, a Wood Duck, and a Wigeon.

The waterfowl surveys for Illinois have been updated and Southern Illinois is loaded with ducks. 185,000 birds have been counted in Southern parts of Illinois as of yesterday. A good portion of them are Mallards. Time will tell if they will stick around or if the lack of water will force them to continue south.

The outlook for the waterfowl migration the rest of the week is not as good as it was early in the week. The weather pattern across the US is going zonal with no large system in sight. Temperatures across a large portion of the country will return to seasonal. The calendar birds will continue to migrate when they always do, but the freeze and snow line birds will likely stay put. Temperatures in Illinois will be in the 50’s for highs and 30’s for lows. The lack of flooded habitat across Illinois and Missouri could lead to the waterfowl migration progressing further south even without a strong front. Waterfowl could continue south until they find the abundant habitat they need.

Southern Illinois Waterfowl MigrationIllinois RiverMississippi River, and Missouri.


Atlantic Flyway Waterfowl Migration

Justin Tackett of KES Waterfowlers

waterfowl migration

“Well, the last day of our middle split in WV did not pan out to well, except for good times with friends.  Hitting a back water expecting Super Storm Sandy to have pushed some more Wood Ducks down, and possibly Mallards did just the opposite.  It was a long morning, just to see 4 Wood Ducks circle once and bug out.  The local geese are starting to get pressured, and going to their safe havens.  With the cold front passing through the hopes of having new birds are better but the down side is seasons out till December.  But what can you do other than keep your fingers crossed that the weather works out for season, or travel?  My trigger finger is getting itchy so I’m thinking travel might be in store.  Knock Em Stiff!”


Central Flyway Waterfowl Migration

Levi Daniel of C&L Outdoors

“Well, it was a tale of two worlds for us this weekend. Saturday it was warm and windy, much of the same from the previous week. Saturday was slow for us, the few birds we had in the area had become stale and we didn’t have any new birds to hunt. Sunday, however, was completely different. Mid-morning, we had a cold front push through that dropped our temps over 20 degrees and brought us some much needed rain.  The rest of the day was full of migrators, with Snows and Specks being heard over head and Mallards starting to show up in the area. Sunday and Monday brought us our first significant push of the year and was hopefully the beginning of a great season.”

private land waterfowl hunting

Bill Witt of Bag’Em Outdoors

decoy bags“Birds are in full swing in southern ND we have been hunting them hard the last couple of weekends, if temps stay up and water stays open hunting should be good for a couple of weeks. If the temp drops and waters close hunting will be done until spring in ND.”


Waterfowl Migration Update – November 6, 2012

Waterfowl Migration Update – November 6, 2012

The waterfowl migration is in full swing with early birds and calendar migrators beginning to arrive in the central part of the US and the mallards starting to vacate Canada. There have been a few decent fronts over the past couple weeks that have sent birds south and the snowpack to start the 2012-2013 waterfowl hunting season is ahead of where it was last year. Time will tell if the weather will continue to cooperate or not.

Duck Migration

We just returned from 6 days of hunting the waterfowl migration in central North Dakota with Muddy Dog Outdoors. When we arrived, it was 15 degrees and snow was flying. Small potholes were 95% frozen over and birds were concentrated Waterfowl Migration in North Dakotaon larger waters and were plentiful. Just two days after beginning our hunt, temperatures were in the mid 50’s and all of the ice was gone. Ducks spread back out, but with scouting they could be located. Many of the birds we killed early in the week were younger birds that still were not full plumage. Conditions changed back to cold and snowy mid week and we starting shooting larger, full plumage northern mallards. Divers and other puddle ducks were in the mix as well. Very few green wing teal and pintail were seen. We ended the week with over 100 birds with most being mallards. As we traveled home, the leading edge of big numbers of mallards appeared to be southern South Dakota and northern North Dakota. South of there, other ducks were around, but greenheads weren’t as plentiful.

Back home in Illinois, the southern Illinois waterfowl survey was well above it’s 10 year average, but the Illinois and Mississippi River valley surveys were lower than normal. Much of the state is still trying to make for the drought this summer. The lack of water could lead to birds pushing through faster than normal, but a solid shot at rain appears likely early next week that will hopefully dump a few inches of rain to make up for the lack of water for migration waterfowl.

For the rest of the week, the waterfowl migration will likely be at a standstill with above normal temperatures. The south central zone opener could be slower than normal due to the push of birds last week moving through quickly. Get out there and scout and you might be able to locate some left over birds and any residents that are around. Good luck this week and weekend!

private land waterfowl huntingFrom Levi Daniel owner of C&L Outdoors in southwest Missouri.

“Well, opening day finally arrived last Saturday.  As excited as we have been for this day, it was hard to get too excited come friday night/saturday morning.  The weather had been warm, water levels low, and the local conservation areas that normally hold 30k birds each were only holding 15k total! Nonetheless, we still got out of bed early and hunted hard like we would if there were 100,000 birds in the area.  Between three different club properties and 7 hunters, we managed to kill 7 ducks on opening day.  Not a good number, but still good to be out in the blind again.  Things are looking up though, a cold front is pushing through as I type this report.  We have had good north winds all day and the temp is dropping!  Hopefully this will bring us more birds.  Good luck until next time.”

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration, Illinois River, Mississippi River, and Missouri.