The abundance of waterfowl surveyed this summer gave hunters high hopes, but as we all know, it doesn’t matter how many there are if the weather isn’t around to make them move. This is exactly the case here in the early part of November. Calendar pushes are happening and sporadic success is being had, but large scale migrations due to the weather have been hard to come by. Record temperatures across the United States in October have been to blame, but as we move further into the month of November, things look to change.
Temperatures across North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan averaged 3 to 4 degrees above normal in the month of October. These numbers could have been much higher had it not been for the cold start to October. The migration got off to a quick start with many reports of it being a week or two ahead of schedule. As we moved into the back half of the month, those reports quickly dwindled as warmth began to build and spread north. During the first week of November, temperatures across the northern tier of the US have been as high as 16 degrees above normal. This is almost unheard of warmth!
Even with all of the warmth, hunters have still been able to rely on the calendar pushes of ducks. This past week, new flights of birds have been noted across Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. They haven’t made their move with a strong cold front. They’re species and age classes of ducks that migrate inside of a 3-5 day window at the same time every year. On these flight days, hunters have had success, but outside of those days the above normal, high pressure, calm days have made for tough hunting.
Light geese have been moving south this week as well. It seems like it has been a never ending stream of specklebellies headed south through Illinois for the better part of a month. They’re numbers are spread out from the gulf coast all the way to the Canada border. Snow geese are starting to arrive on their wintering grounds right on schedule with past years and their numbers will only continue to build as we head toward winter.
After the past 3 weeks of record warmth, one has to think it will come to an end. A change in the weather pattern should take place near the middle of the month. While many still might not experience below normal temperatures, we should at least move back toward normal. Luckily, this time of year, “normal” temperatures will start to lock water up across Canada. Up to this point in the season, you would have to travel a long ways north to find any ice at all. This weekend, temperatures will near 60 degrees across central Canada. The good news is there is hope on the horizon. Signs are pointing to a large center of low pressure moving across the central plains and in to the midwest late next week. This will move temperatures more toward normal and could offer some of the first meaningful snowfall of the year to southern Canada, the Dakotas, and Minnesota.