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Snow Goose Migration – February 22, 2012

Snow Goose Migration

 

The snow goose migration continues to be in full swing across the Mississippi Flyway.  Last week, some birds moved south as snow fell across portions of Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois, but temperatures have moderated and the geese are moving back north.  Success is being reported all the way from Arkansas to northern Missouri and Iowa.

 

Snow goose migration reports put the masses of leading edge adults as far north as NW Missouri around Squaw creek, Western Iowa and southeast Nebraska.  Squaw Creek last week had it's largest snow goose survey of the year thus far at 1.25 million. The survey yesterday fell to just over 1 million.  The snow line starts in central South Dakota and carries on north from there.  The large concentrations of birds have some more room to move north to edge closer to the snow line, but they're probably limited on available roost water due to frozen lakes.  A winter weather system is forecasted to move over areas where there is already snow this weekend so a large northward movement from areas already holding masses of geese is unlikely.

snow goose migration

 

 

Squaw Creek Waterfowl Survey courtesy of the Midwest Region Refuge System

 

Further south, there are still good numbers of birds in areas of Arkansas and southern Illinois/Missouri.  In these areas, the concentrations of geese sporadic.  Hunters must do their homework by scouting and driving to find locations holding these concentrations.  With the leading edge of birds, you could set up nearly anywhere. Towards the back part of the migration you have to spend time scouting to find exactly where the birds are roosting and feeding.  It's a lot of work, but success at this point could be better than hunting the huge numbers of birds at the beginning.  One thing that the Fowled Reality crew has noticed is the back part of the migration sill has quite a few adult birds mixed in with the juvies.  Most years, the tail end of the snow goose migration is characterized by predominantly juvies in the flocks.  This year there are good numbers of juvies bringing up the rear, but there seems to be more adults than normal.  It could be due to the abnormally warm winter we had.  Some adult snow geese took their typical southward migration to the gulf coast even with the warm temps and they're just now getting this far north and joining up with the juvenile snow geese that start their migration north later than the adults. While some other adult snow geese didn't go as far south as typical because of the mild temperatures.  Regardless, huntable numbers of snow geese remain through these areas.  The surveyed numbers in southern Illinois are just behind their 5 year average at 49,000.

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Survey courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

 

The forecast for the rest of the week and into the weekend calls for seasonable to mild temperatures and mostly sunny skies after a chance of rain tomorrow.  It also looks like a few days of good wind which we all know is key to killing snow geese.  Good hunting conditions should prevail across southern Illinois after tomorrow and hunters should experience good success with proper scouting and larger numbers of juvenile birds coming through.

Waterfowl Migration – February 7, 2012

Waterfowl Migration

Mild weather across much of the Mississippi Flyway sent a waterfowl migration northward this past week.  The snow geese began their northward push to the Arctic Circle and many ducks started moving out of southern parts of the flyway as the temperatures warmed.  The mild weather is now gone and the northward waterfowl migration will likely halt for the time being.  The forecast calls for the cold to stick around for the coming days and there are even talks of snow in the next week.  This could send the snow geese back south if the snow falls in the correct location.  Duck season are closed across the country, but there are still a few late goose seasons that will end shortly. Our waterfowl reports will focus on snow geese for the rest of the season.

 

Snow Goose Migration

Many snow geese were reported to spend their winter in northern parts of Missouri and Illinois.  Luckily there are millions of them and a few hundred thousands that never made it down shouldn't hurt hunter success too much.  The birds that stayed north were likely mostly adults which are tough to kill any ways.  We've had large numbers of snows in central and south central Illinois through the month of January.  The largest concentration of snows began showing the past two weeks.  Many snow goose conservation seasons opened last week and it coincided well with a warm snap that got many snow geese headed north.  The snow goose migration will likely be spread out this year.  Large concentrations of adult birds will travel north as fast as they can until they reach the snow/ice line.

 

 

waterfowl migration

*Courtesy of Nation Snow Anlyses

The younger birds that typically bring up the rear of the migration will trickle north over the course of the next few weeks.  Reports of pockets of juvies are littered throughout Arkansas.  Hunters might not be seeing huge numbers of birds, but what they do see are workable and they're enjoying great success.  Further north, where flocks consist of mostly adult birds, success is sporadic. The snow goose hunting hot spot, Squaw Creek, in northwest Missouri was already holding nearly 400,000 snows at the end of January.

Squaw Creek Waterfowl Survey

*Courtesy of MDC

The Fowled Reality crew scouted central Illinois on January 31st and witnessed huge numbers of snow geese throughout many square miles.  We found the largest group on the ground and got permission for the field to open the conservation snow goose season.  Conditions were tough the first two days with a mix of little wind and foggy mornings.  When the sun shined and the wind blew, the birds worked the best.  We harvested 41 snow geese in three days to start the conservation season.

 

 

waterfowl migration

Time will tell if birds either get pushed back south due to snow and cold or we get enough birds bringing up the rear to warrant the hours of setting a 1000 decoy spread.  The numbers of geese we saw over the course of three days seemed to nearly cut in half each day.  Birds were active early and late in the day.  Through mid day, some large flocks of mile high birds were headed north.  In normal years we can hunt them through February and into early March.  With the weather conditions this year, it will likely be cut short barring a weather change.  If you're located in Missouri and Illinois, now is the time to assemble the spread and turn on the caller.  The migration is on!  And it might not last long.

waterfowl migration

 

Snow Goose Migration – February 15, 2012

A large portion of the Mississippi Flyway picked up some snow early this week which sent the snow goose migration back south.  A lot of birds had been staging across central parts of Illinois and the famous areas in northwest Missouri.  The recent snow has sent some of those birds packing back south.  However, it won’t be long and they’ll head right back up north with the snow quickly melting off and forecasts calling for temperatures in the upper 40s and 50s across portions of the states. Hunters have been experiencing decent success in these areas.  The theme seems to be they smash them one day, then the birds fly right over the next.  Always the case with snows.  The largest concentrations of birds are the old wise ones which are a pain to decoy. Further south, there are still huntable numbers of snow geese in areas of southern Missouri and Illinois.  There are even plenty to be had down in Arkansas.  While there aren’t huge numbers down there, there are pockets of decent numbers of birds.  Most of these birds are the young ones so success has been great.

The forecast calls for moderating temperatures through the weekend and clear skies.  Look for the birds that traveled south with the snow to turn back around as the weather clears late this week.  The juveniles will continue to trickle north as they always do.  It will take one heck of a snow storm to get the masses of the snow goose migration back south, but snow like we had this past week can always push a good number back.  The further south of I70 you go, the more drive time you are going to have to spend to locate birds.  But, if you find them and do things right, you should have a great hunt!  Need tips, check here for Snow Geese Hunting Tips for Success

 

snow goose migrationRyne traveled to Arkansas last weekend.  He drove hundreds of miles to find snow geese, but it was worth the effort as him and a couple buddies put down 94 birds over the weekend!

Waterfowl Migration – January 19, 2011

 

Waterfowl Migration

The midwest is finally experiencing an extended bout of cold weather and with it has come a new waterfowl migration from the north along the Mississippi Flyway.  Unfortunately, for most of us, the new ducks that have arrived do nothing but dreams of next season.  We filmed a bunch of new ducks in central Illinois this past weekend battling blowing snow.  Our main objective up there was to find some of the first migrating Canada geese, but very, very few were to be seen.

 

Duck Migration

Large numbers of mallards were observed in many areas across the state and lucky for the boys in the south zone, they were able to capitalize on the new ducks.  Duck hunting continues to be good with a new waterfowl migration seemingly arriving every few days as each new cold front pushes south.  For those of us in the south central and central zones in Illinois, the ducks are nothing but a tease.  The push of big ducks we needed a month ago has now arrived.  During a typical winter, the north gets snow and we get an extended cold period in late December which would coincide nicely with the ending of those zones.  2011-2012 has been a different beast!

 

 

Goose Migration

The first widespread snowfall across the midwest fell late last week.  Four to six inches of snow was reported across Wisconsin and northern Illinois.  This finally pushed the bulk of the geese out of Wisconsin and into the north zone in Illinois.  Some geese reportedly even made it as far as I-72.  Waterfowl hunters across the state have noticed an increase in the number of geese even in south parts of the state which is due to smaller waters finally freezing and staying frozen forcing the canada geese that call them home to join up with other concentration of geese on larger lakes with open water and power plant cooling lakes.  These conditions did force some geese into new areas where they didn't know the ins and outs only to fall victim to a decoy spread or two.  Now they've joined forces with the locals of these lakes and it'll be the same ol song and dance of flying over spreads and calling without even skipping a wing beat.  It was a sad late January day today when I drove the 30 miles to Cabelas only to see one flock of 10 geese.  This time last year, thousands filled the skies along that same route.

 

Snow Goose Migration

The time is near where we'll bust our the white spread, fight the mud, and blare the speakers!  This screwed up year has put some worry into our snow goose season.  There is said to be a large number of snow geese hanging in north central Illinois.  That means those of us to the south will miss out on hunting them in the spring unless we can get more cold and snow to get them south of here.  However; there are plenty in southern Illinois and on to the south.  The hatch is said to be the best in 5 years which is hard to believe after the number of juveniles witnessed last year.  I will say that when we've drove the refuge at the club, there does seem to be plenty of juveniles sitting in the lake or snacking on grass.  If you haven't checked it out, Blake and Chris have been busy little elves cutting snows and blues out of gas station signs for the reverse waterfowl migration of snows.  Production is almost complete!  Just a few more dozen to go.  Finally price is going to be around $7.50 a dozen!  Should have the finished product posted tomorrow.

 

The latest on the weather for the waterfowl migration.

 

Here to hoping for a last minute blizzard across the midwest that will get southern Illinois (south of I-80) into the waterfowl migration and big numbers of Canada geese to finish up the year!!!

 

 

A Goose Hunting Weekend of Nothing

Goose Hunting

The first widespread snowfall of the year that feel late last week brought the Fowled Reality crew high hopes for waterfowling the past week.  We scattered across location throughout central Illinois on Friday in a scouting effort to find migrating canada geese.  Hundred of miles and many phone calls led to next to nothing promising for goose hunting.  In areas between I-72 and I-70 we saw very few new birds show up.  The local birds in the area stuck to their afternoon feeding routines with the colder weather and recent full moon.  As has been the case all season, they either fed in fields that we can't waterfowl hunt, or randomly flew as resident geese always do.  Scott had been seeing some of the locals geese feeding in a chisel plowed corn field that we were able to get access to.  They were there 4 nights in a row prior to our scouting mission on Friday.  Unfortunately, they never showed to the field Friday so our plans for a Saturday hunt were put aside.

 

goose hunting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada geese feeding in the field that no one gets permission to hunt

 

Blake and Chris headed to Missouri Saturday morning for a hunt with some guys from Muddy Dog Outdoors for a little goose hunting action in central Missouri.  The field we were hunting had tons of birds circling it Friday afternoon.  As has been the case with our goose hunting season, none of the geese took flight that day and instead elected to sit on the ice at the local lake or feed on grass on the banks. The one good thing that came out of Saturday was a phone call that the resident geese were back in the field we had access to in central Illinois.  There was only 40-50 geese using the field, but we'll take what we can get this year.

 

The Fowled Reality crew got setup shortly afternoon and waited for the geese to repeat their pattern of flying just a quarter mile off the roost to the feeding field.  They had now been in the field 4/5 days. We waited and waited only to be outsmarted once again!  The birds sat on the ice the entire afternoon.  We heard them get vocal at one point during the afternoon as a flock of specklebellies flew over, but that was all the activity of the afternoon.

 

From the reports we read, lots of geese finally crossed the state line from Wisconsin into northern Illinois and great goose hunting success was had by many.  Smaller numbers of new geese entered areas just north of I-72 and south of that line very few new geese showed.  Over New Year's weekend we had an estimated 3000 geese using the area we hunted this past weekend.  They showed without any snow and a slight cool down. They quickly returned north with the warmup the first few days of January.  Now that we got snow and some of the coldest temps of the year, they haven't returned.  The frustration of the 2011/2012 waterfowl season continues!

For more updates on where the goose hunting aciton is hot.