We’re now entering 2015 and a lot of waterfowl hunters are glad to see December of 2014 in the rearview mirror. After a month of little to no waterfowl migration, arctic air has finally come back into the midwest and central United States and waterfowl are back on the move. How long the cold will last is anyones guess, but it’s best to take advantage of it now while we have it and the waterfowl migration is back in swing.
Normal to above normal temperatures and little in the way of winter weather had the duck migration virtually stalled for the better part of 7 week. Locations that picked up ducks back in the first half of November still had the same ducks up until the past few days. Hunting success had been poor at best in most places from Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Many season are now closed and more will in the coming week. Luckily, for the homestretch of a lot of ducks hunting seasons, fresh birds made a move the past few days with the cold front. New migrations of mallards have been spotted from northern Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. There has also been an influx of new ducks into Oklahoma and Arkansas. Locations in Arkansas remain dry, but where there is water, there are ducks. A new weather system looks to effect areas along and south of I70 at the end of the week and into the weekend. Rainfall amounts across much of Arkansas could exceed an inch and will be welcome by duck hunters. Further north, there should be a swath of snow by the weekend from central Kansas into northern Illinois. The precipitation could further push ducks into southern Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, while the rainfall across Arkansas could lead to fresh food sources and thinning out the concentrations of ducks where there is currently water.
Canada Goose Migration
Just as the duck migration has been on hold, so has the Canada goose migration. Areas that were having great hunts this time last year, have yet to see much if any northern Canada geese migrate in. Good numbers of geese have remained across the Dakotas, northern Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. While the fresh cold could push some south, the lack of snowfall in these areas will likely lead the geese to stay put for now.
Snow Goose Migration
The snow goose migration has been in full swing with the mild temperatures over the past 10 days. Large concentrations of snows moved north last week and made it all the way into the Illinois River Valley and locations around Squaw Creek. The snow goose migration last week resembled something seen in mid February! Luckily, the new cold snap should force quite a few of them back south closer to their wintering grounds. Even without snow cover north of I70, many of the snow geese will make a move back south to get away from the cold. Their not as hardly as the northern mallards and Canada geese, but all it will take a a brief warmup for them to move back north.
The Week Ahead
The weather in the coming week looks to stay around normal or slightly below. The weekend system should lay a narrow band of snow down, but a lack of snow cover will remain in certain locations all the way into the Dakotas and Minnesota. The cold weather should continue to create more and more ice on large bodies of water and a trickle of migrating waterfowl could continue into next week.