3-2-17 - The Grind
After the big push back last weekend we are stuck in grind mode this week. Temps have moderated, birds are staging, and hunting has been average. Rascally old adults bunched back up with the juvies that had been left behind the front lines making for some slower days for most this week.
But with the bad comes the good! This weekend looks like another big warm front is coming through. It will melt what is left of the snow line, and those big groups of adults will push out of the Nebraska, Missouri, and Illinois line well up into South Dakota....leaving large numbers of juvies behind! This is when big spring shoots start to happen. Everything gets bunched up, the adults decide to leave, and the juvie groups lag behind and provide great hunting for several days after the masses move on. This scenario is likely to play out this weekend into early next week in southern MO, NE, and IL! If you're hitting the field, make sure you're around birds on Friday....once it seems like they are starting to leave.....it should start to get really good for you!
2-29-17 - The Push Back
The big February storm we were all waiting for has subsided and things definitely shook up over the weekend. Reports for the Mound City, MO area were of good hunting and an exponential increase in bird numbers from both the North and South. Illinois boys are starting to do better as juvies move up from the South as well.
As of this weekend there was a large number of snows in Northern South Dakota above the newly laid snow line. Rumor has it there was very little hunting pressure on them as most don't expect to be hunting up there until the 3rd week of March. They may still be cranky old adults but if you're looking for an adventure away from the crowds you might check that report out!
Everything we've heard from Arkansas and South has the migration slowing to a trickle. The masses are grouping once again. Overall hunting was good for the few days after the big storm. Temps are going to be fairly average over the coming week so I'd expect steady Northward movements every day the sun shines! It should make for some good consistent snow goose hunting in the traditional beginning of March areas!
2-21-17 - The Calm Before the Storm
It was an OK weekend to be a spring snow goose hunter these past few days. Warm weather certainly had the birds on the move North, but a lot of guys had trouble getting them to come down. That can happen when it gets so warm the only thing they have on their mind is flying North. We did hear the most consistent "killed em" reports still coming from Arkansas, guys hunting feeds and migrators are into the Juvies and Rossies!
The front edge of this crazy early migration is now well into South Dakota, with a few scattered reports of birds that have crossed into North Dakota already. The main masses are very stretched out, although MO and Illinois are holding some birds, and the southern part of Nebraska has mega wads to work with.
HOWEVER - winter is about to make its ugly return by the end of the week. The snow totals they were talking last week have mellowed out to amounts in the 4-6inch range, but the cold is coming back as well. We'd expect to see a push back South or at very least a solid holding pattern starting Thursday and into the foreseeable future.
By the looks of this map there will actually be quite a few birds caught North of the projected snow line. I'm not sure this will be the complete reset button many guys were hoping for, but it will at least slow things down for a week or so!
2-14-17 - It's a Love / Hate Relationship
Happy Valentines Day...are you hanging with your sweet heart or laying in a muddy corn field again?
Reports we've gathered have been mostly on the tougher side this week. The main migration is well into Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska at this point, spread out, but still grouped up in big bunches....doing what big bunches of snow geese do. The guys grinding it out in the Southern states have reported a clearing of huntable flocks, and the birds still around have been getting a pretty good work out. Most guys down there are having their best days shooting migrators. That's a boom or bust game when you're on the back side of things.
Although the snows are ahead of schedule it will be nice to have a warm spring weather event to kick things back into high gear....and it looks like that is exactly what's on tap for the end of this week. Temps in the 60-70's across the middle plain states. Although the main groups of birds will likely stick to where they are right now for another 2-3 weeks, this warm up will still equal great hunting conditions. And we wouldn't be one bit surprised to hear of the first few birds crossing into South Dakota by this weekend. We just have a feeling that as of Feb. 14th winter is not truly done yet!
2-7-17 - BIG DAYS
A couple tough days across the board over the weekend changed yesterday with some HUGE hunts being had. It sounds like Arkansas had some fog in the morning allowing for those with a hot feed to absolutely smoke the young birds down there. No hunt more "online visible" than the infamous Tony Vandemore with his Habitat Flats boys putting together one of the biggest snow goose shoots we've ever heard of.....over White Rock Windsocks. They are known for using large fullbody spreads, but when field conditions don't allow they use our windsock decoys to put birds on the ground. And boy did they ever with this hunt of over 500+.
Today is opening day in Missouri with many refuges in the northern part of the state reporting 100's of thousands of birds staging already. Illinois has em, Kansas has em, and Nebraska has em as well. With temps in the 50's today and highs reaching into the 60's by the end of the week it certainly will feel like it's go time....and that's because it is. We've heard many of our guide friends are moving clients up to get on birds that are now ahead of schedule. Word has it the front push has a lot of juvies mixed in already and guys have been doing fairly well even without the e-callers running. The snows will be jumping around a lot by the end of this week so get hunting!
2-2-17 - Now We're Rollin'
A flip switched the last couple days and got the birds and snow goose hunters alike in a tizzy. Isn't that what's fun about this game? Bird reports from Illinois and Nebraska were rolling in as concentrations have grown the last couple days. The popular refuge in NW MO (I think we'll just keep calling it Squaw?) is reporting 150,000+, pretty big numbers for this early in the year, although not completely unheard of.
That's not to say the normal go to places in the South aren't still your best bet. That's where the banner shoots have been coming across the board already this week. Way above "average" is the word with high numbers of juvies to play with. Many 100 bird days to start the season with several reliable reports of 200+ bird kills happening now. But the best part is even the low hunts are being reported as steady and solid with numbers in the 20's and 30's being common.
A couple warm days are in store for next Monday/Tuesday which will have geese jumping again. But cool again after that. Don't worry if your still 3 weeks out from starting your hunts, you're not behind the game, yet! Some are just getting an early crack.
1-31-17 - It's go time!
Yesterday marked the official opening day of the 2017 spring snow goose season, heck yeah! Reports were solid across the board, although the weather was not perfect for killing huge numbers even if it was the first time they heard the callers since October.
Geese have already made one solid jump North with decent concentrations built up in parts of Southern Illinois (opening tomorrow) and Missouri (opening Feb. 7). Further West in the flyway the birds are also spread out although most reports we have heard are from Kansas and South (Feb. 13 opener). It's always nice to get an early start to this season and it looks like these areas will be rockin' as soon as they legally can be.
Temperatures look average over the 10 day forecast with nothing crazy in sight. There is a small snow line across South Dakota and Iowa right now although that really shouldn't come into play for another 3 weeks at minimum. We all know a lot can happen in 3 weeks!
Good luck if you're season is now open!
1-25-17 - Return from the South
We just returned from a quick duck and specklebelly hunting trip south to Arkansas (check out the Nomad Chronicles), and have news to report....IT'S GOING TO BE A GREAT SPRING! The juvie numbers in the flocks down there are high, like really high. We saw mega snow goose feeds all over the grand prairie of NE Arkansas, not surprising, but it certainly got us excited.
We did not see any snows on our way home through Western MO and the Kansas City area, even with the warm weather we experienced last week. That doesn't mean there aren't a few there, we just didn't see any. We have received reports of snows and specks pushing up into southern Illinois which should have huntable numbers for the opener in a couple weeks.
Snow is blanketing the midwest again today, re-structuring that snow line we lost with the warm temps last week.
Less than a week to go! Get your scout on, there are going to be some big numbers put up by this time next week!
1-12-17 - Welcome to 2017
Raise your glass to a "normal" fall migration and the deep winter freeze of 2017. We've had temps well below zero the last week here in the midwest. I'm not sure on accurate snow totals for the season but they are certainly deep enough to move any migrants that may have had short stopping on their mind well into their traditional wintering grounds.
Reports from this fall indicate a great juvie hatch to play with this upcoming spring. A pleasant relief after the near bust of a hatch we had to work with last year. This should mean BIG days on the horizon for those in the right place at the right time. Where and when that will be is the best part of the spring snow goose game....you just never know!
One place to start though, opening day of the CO in the South. It's less than 3 weeks aways and with a mid January thaw on the horizon there will be all sorts of opportunities out there to start the year off with a BANG!
Now is the time to pull out your gear, get the e-callers in order, and rig up more Deck Boss Flyers. The anticipation is all part of the game!
We'll be updating this report on a regular basis once we get closer to GO TIME!
Photo credit: Tony Vandemore