Waterfowl Migration Reports — Mississippi

Avery Outdoors takes a look at Waterfowl migration reports.

January 31, 2014



Name:  Eric Wolf

Location:Waconia, MN

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: We had an early ice up this year and the majority of water was frozen before Thanksgiving. This put an early end to some people’s waterfowl seasons.

Winter Snow Summary:  We have had a significant amount of snow this winter.

Season Water Conditions:  Water conditions were good this year. We had enough rain throughout the fall to keep small ponds full of water.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Early season started out with birds feeding in small grain fields transitioning into corn fields around mid-season.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: About average for early season with below average number the remainder of the season.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Below average for local birds.

Notable Duck Migrations:Duck migrations seemed to be pretty low key. There was more of a trickle of birds rather than a large push near the end of the season.

Notable Goose Migrations: Mid-November was a huge migration period for Canada geese.

Overall Hunting Report:Hunting was good for the people willing to drive the extra mile to find larger concentrations of birds.

Name:  Will Harvey

Location:Glenwood, MN

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Colder than last year, but that seemed to be the story around the country.

Winter Snow Summary:  Seems about average, good old fashioned MN winter

Season Water Conditions: Slightly below long term averages

Overall Feeding Conditions: Good, local grain crops were in abundance.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Very poor

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Maybe a little below average.

Notable Duck Migrations:The only thing that was really noticeable was that it never happened locally this year from what I saw. We did a lot of traveling this year to find birds.

Notable Goose Migrations: Saw a pretty spectacular goose migration the 2nd week in November in western MN. The sky was filled with geese headed south most of the day, first big freeze of the season.

Overall Hunting Report:Overall report for the season was pretty poor, very disappointing season as far as hunting went.  The ducks just never came through my area and the geese that were there were super decoy shy from mid-September up until the end. Did make some new friends though, and met some good hunters, looking forward to next season! Fingers are crossed and hoping it’s a little better and really looking forward to heading south in a week to chase snows for 6 weeks!

Name:  Greg Owens

Location:Rochester, Minnesota

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Extreme cold!

Winter Snow Summary:  Much less snow than normal but colder temperatures.

Season Water Conditions: Everything froze up hard at the end of November.

Overall Feeding Conditions:The crops came out on time and gave plenty of feeding opportunities to the birds.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers were very strong; we still have a ton of ducks around.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years:  Goose numbers peaked quickly in the beginning of December and then dropped off just as fast a week or so later.

Notable Duck Migrations: Late October

Notable Goose Migrations: Early December

Overall Hunting Report:Hunting was very good all season. It was tough to see the season close.

Name:  Rich Shamla

Location:Clara City, MN

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season:  Drier year this past year and noticeably colder conditions shortened the end of the season.

Winter Snow Summary:  Average to slightly less than average.

Season Water Conditions: Drier than previous years.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Harvest was earlier this year and a lot of fields were open earlier in the season

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Same

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years:  Early season was pretty good.  Mid-season the migration was a little bit later in the season than average due to the mild temperatures.

Notable Duck Migrations: Mid to late November

Notable Goose Migrations: Late November

Overall Hunting Report:Hunting was a little bit better not because of better numbers but because it was a little bit drier the birds were more congregated.

Name:Russell Brzezinski

Location:Berkley, Michigan

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season:  Unpredictable weather and unseasonably cold earlier in the year.  Last part of regular season was all but a complete lock out.

Winter Snow Summary:  Record snows for the month with record cold as well.

Season Water Conditions: Good amount of water in all hunting areas.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Good amount of feed available earlier than in year’s past.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: I thought ducks were down for this year versus year’s past.  Many shot right past Michigan with the weather and tail winds we had through November

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years:  Ithought goose numbers were about average.

Notable Duck Migrations:There was a big push early in October and later that same month.  Pushed a number of them right through the state

Notable Goose Migrations: Late September and then again in late November.

Overall Hunting Report:  Looking over my notes, it was definitely a “feast or famine” type year for us; either we did really well or really poor.  Very inconsistent hunting even between hunts and day to day weather conditions, it was difficult to really read an area for potential.

Name:Floyd Decker

Location: Bloomingdale, Michigan

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season:  It was a rollercoaster for most of the season!  Early season started out sticky hot and quickly turned cold with a ton of wind.  We had our first snow in October this year and had snow on the ground for a great deal of the season from its mid-point through late season.  In the regular season if we didn’t have snow it seemed we had torrential down pours.  Temps overall maintained below average for the majority of the season.

Winter Snow Summary:  We have been setting record snow accumulation numbers since the first part of November.  We have not had this much snow on the ground since 1996.  In addition to the heavy snow falls the wind has played a huge role as wind chills have been subzero more days that not.

Season Water Conditions:  Water levels were the best we had seen in our area in recent years.  Heavy rains from early spring through freeze up helped greatly.  Many DNR access sites had to move docks at the boat launch as they were underwater mid-summer.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Due to a very wet season many farmers struggled to get fields picked, in fact many fields still have standing corn in them.  Many fields were not picked until the regular season was already over.  However, fields that were picked held great numbers of birds and were very productive.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years:  Due to the quick onset of cold weather the wood ducks were gone much earlier this year that normal.  However the cold did drive massive flocks into our area early as well.  Many guys in our areas even harvested species not typically in our area.  Overall a great season for ducks.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years:  Much the same on the goose numbers, early and consistent cold weather helped to push huge flocks into our laps.  Our local goose management unit had one of the best years in recent years.  Normally at its peak 7,000 birds on the unit is huge, as of today there are over 14,000.

Notable Duck Migrations:Again, with unusual weather we were able to see wonderful duck numbers as they moved through our area.  With our early freeze up they also pushed past us sooner than we would have liked but it was great while it lasted.

Notable Goose Migrations:  Much the same as ducks, we were blessed with a huge crop of local birds this year and about the time they were getting rather wise to our decoys fresh birds started pouring in.  Again, one of the best years we have had in some time.

Overall Hunting Report:Overall, a great season!  Our focus was mainly on geese this year and we did very well.  With some of the larger scale farms in our area allowing us to hunt their property which consisted of some of the larger fields in our area things couldn’t have been better.  We primarily hunted Allegan and Van Buren Counties but did venture north to Muskegon and Saginaw bay as well.  Most of our hunting was from layout blinds in picked fields but we did throw in water hunt from time to time as well, both river and inland lakes.  We truly had a blast each time a field and are already looking forward to next season.  

Name:  Gerry Mazur

Location:Toledo, Ohio

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season:I would have to repeat the scenario from last season in that we are experiencing unusual weather patterns here on the Great Lakes. Algae bloom at the western end of Lake Erie may be changing bird counts. Of course right now we are experiencing brutal cold spells and hunting has come to a halt. It really has been feast or famine.

Winter Snow Summary: For the area we are at record totals. They have come in stages, but when we get snow it has been significant.  Add the brutal wind chill and conditions are awful. 

Season Water Conditions: Army Corp of Engineers has the data for overall levels but the wind plays a huge amount on pushing levels up and down on the western end of the lake and its tributaries. When we had rain it came in buckets and creeks did overflow into fields, it just didn’t matter because there were no birds hear to use it.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Crop harvest was way behind because of the rain, so it took quite some time for fields to open up, especially with corn.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: The farther east you traveled along Lake Erie numbers were great according to the aerial survey.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers in and around the Federal refuges, Ottawa and Magee, were poor all year.

Notable Duck Migrations:You would have to show me aerials with specific dates to tell me when this occurred, if it did.

Notable Goose Migrations: See above.

Overall Hunting Report:The early goose season started with great promise and a lot of birds and then went downhill. Migrations to the north from here I feel blew us by. Saginaw which is just 3 hours away and has that many birds and we never see them stop over something is wrong. Don’t get me wrong there are pockets of birds in the area but the ability to feed in the city and not be shot at is taking a huge toll on harvesting both ducks and geese around this area.

Name:Tad Hartwig

Location:Garner, Iowa

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Had a somewhat decent mid to late season cold snap that pushed some birds down much earlier than last year. Still plenty dry so what water was around froze quickly. 

Winter Snow Summary:We had some decent snow during the latter part of the goose season.  It definitely helped decoying geese.  

Season Water Conditions:Water levels remained quite low throughout the season.  This left much of the wetlands frozen quite quickly. 

Overall Feeding Conditions:Here in north central Iowa we have an abundance of food sources for migrating birds.  Some fields would hold a large amount of birds for quite a few days. 

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: We had a good hatch of resident ducks this year.  Decent spring/early summer rains helped bring back the drought ridden wetlands.  Slowly late summer heat depleted a lot of the wetland areas.  This concentrated ducks to the larger marsh areas, in turn concentrating a lot of hunters.  We did see a notable amount of ducks stopping for a few days here and there during the season. 

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers were strong as usual here.  We only had a week or two with a dip in numbers before new birds came in.  Good huntable numbers were here most of the year.

Notable Duck Migrations:Had a couple good pushes of ducks this year.  Of course, two of the big pushes were after the freeze up of most of the shallow areas.  Field hunting was pretty much the only way to kill birds later in the year.

Notable Goose Migrations: The geese stacked up nicely throughout the year.  We had good numbers come in later in November/early December.  Thankfully our season runs into January so this allowed for some great late season shoots.

Overall Hunting Report:The geese were a bit odd this year. They decoyed but it was a little tougher than previous years.  We had better luck leaving the layout blinds in the trailer and going “old school” lying on the ground covered in camo burlap. Once the ground froze, digging in blinds is virtually impossible.  I do 90% of my hunting late in the year due to farming work.  Another year in the books.  Hopefully next year will have a little more water to work with and not freeze up so soon. 

Name: Brandon Geweke   

Location: Antioch, Illinois

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This last part of the year have been extremely cold, we were on track on our best Canada year yet until we have been blasted by this freeze driving the birds south.

Winter Snow Summary:We have had 6-8” of snow on the ground since the beginning of December, giving the birds very few fields to feed out of.

Season Water Conditions: In the beginning of the season we were really low for water. Hopefully with the amount of snow we have gotten this season our ponds and swamps will hold some water in it this year for abetter hatch.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Beginning and mid-season we had unbelievable amounts of geese working wheat/soy/corn fields.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers were LOW.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Most birds we have had here in a long time.

Notable Duck Migrations:During the first week of Dec. is when we had a huge push of mallards come down.  We went from shooting 1’s and 2’s out of the field to limits but that only lasted for about two weeks.

Notable Goose Migrations: We had constant flow of new birds from sept till Nov. did not seem that would leave either just kept building here. Typically we will see a few snows and specks but this year we did not…

Name:  Ralph Harr

Location: St. Peters, MO

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This season started out very warm and mild with very few migrations in the beginning of the season.  After the first couple waves of birds started showing up it stayed pretty consistent with birds showing up and some rather large migrations.  The cold did come on strong this year and early with most of our water getting locked up solid with 3-4 weeks left in the season which grouped birds up heavy, and made them very difficult to hunt. 

Winter Snow Summary: The snow did show its face early in the year for this part of the state.  Most years the season is out before we get any snow. So this year made it fun to get out and hunt in those conditions. 

Season Water Conditions: Water levels stayed around normal but ended up freezing early in the season. 

Overall Feeding Conditions: Feeding conditions where fair to good all season. 

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Overall numbers seemed to stay around the average. 

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: N/A

Notable Duck Migrations: Our biggest push of ducks came in the first and second week of December with that being our biggest push of birds as well. A lot of those birds ended up sticking around and grouping up and keeping water open. 

Notable Goose Migrations: N/A

Overall Hunting Report:  This year again proved to be hard to hide.  If you were able to get to where birds wanted to be and then have a good hide then the action was right in your face.  Layout boats and layout blinds were a key. Also if you were hunting over water later in the season an Ice eater or some way to keep water open also helped on success rates. Over all a great year and I am already counting down the days to next season. 

Name:  Shaun Patrick

Location:Troy, MO

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This has been by far one of the coldest winters we have ever had in this area.

Winter Snow Summary:  We had several large snow falls through the later part of the season, each of which produced some great Canada goose hunting.

Season Water Conditions: We started with a flood last spring and then went through drought conditions late summer, and then what water we did have, was frozen by early December.  This was a very tough water year for waterfowlers in the area.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Feeding conditions were good due to a good crop year for farmers, but we also had a great year for moist soil production.  However, even with the good feeding conditions, for moist soil, ducks seemed to want into flooded crop fields from the start of the year.  This really concentrated numbers and caused a feast or famine duck season.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers at times were high, but our overall average was down from previous years.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers in our area were tremendous!!!  This is by far one of the better years for goose hunting I have had in the area. We had numerous pushes of birds that kept our numbers solid and our hunting strong, because of the new birds to the area.

Notable Duck Migrations:We received a great push of ducks on Veterans Day, other than that; we had a trickle migration, with not many other major pushes to speak of.

Notable Goose Migrations: Throughout the latter part of December into January, we frequently saw new birds moving into the area.  There were several different large pushes throughout the season, mainly tagging along with some of the strong weather systems we had move through the area.

Overall Hunting Report:This was a year that was a tale of two seasons.  Duck season was the worst I have ever had.  While Canada goose season was one of the best I have experienced.  The birds in my primary hunting area during duck season got rather stale, and had their places chosen and would never deviate from their course.  This combined with a trickle migration, and our water freezing solid early, shut our season down.  For Canada geese, we had one of the best seasons we have ever had.  We mainly ran traffic and killed a substantial number of birds, all of which responded great to calling and flagging.  Overall an awesome year to be a Canada goose hunter!!!

Name: John Gordon 

Location:Prichard/Tunica/Chatham, MS

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: All across the region we reached colder temperatures than in many years.  And it was wet early and very dry late in the season, farmers are working the fields already in preparation for planting.    

Winter Snow Summary:We saw a few flurries but never received any accumulation of snow. 

Season Water Conditions: There was no shortage of water this season and it rained often in November and December.  This water scattered the ducks for much of the season.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Good as usual because of the major crop shift from cotton the soybeans and corn in the Mississippi Delta.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers were higher than average and many hunters did well. 

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Snow and speck numbers were much higher this season with early fronts that moved them out of the north.

Notable Duck Migrations:They were here earlier than normal but seemed to travel around more with changing wind conditions.

Notable Goose Migrations: The goose population has been higher this year than any I have seen in the past.  Tunica County held upwards of 200,000 snow geese in early January.  They have moved farther south since then but good numbers are still around.

Overall Hunting Report:I would call it a good year overall for most hunters in Mississippi even if it was somewhat inconsistent at times. Now it is time to finish up with some quail hunting and snows before the fishing rods come out.

Name:  Jay Hayter

Location:  El Dorado, AR

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Colder and wetter than normal.

Winter Snow Summary:  N/A

Season Water Conditions: Normal first half, flooded for second half of season.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Good, rice and soybean crops were strong.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Comparable in November and December, the population was down in January.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Some snows and specks around but no huge numbers here.  It seems they prefer northeast Arkansas.

Notable Duck Migrations: Thanksgiving week and between 2nd split opener and Christmas is when we saw the majority of ducks come into this area. 

Notable Goose Migrations: N/A

Overall Hunting Report: Good during low water and poor during high water conditions.

Name:  Shannon Housend

Location:  Des Allemands, LA

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Yes very much so, we had a decent winter compared to the previous years.

Winter Snow Summary:  N/A

Season Water Conditions: For the most part we had water, but it stayed low, but still had enough to get in the ponds.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Great, better than ever!

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: I can't explain what happen or why but we didn't get any birds until last week and still the numbers are not there.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Didn't see one!

Notable Duck Migrations:Last week we had that hard front; a few birds came in but northing to really talk about.

Notable Goose Migrations: N/A

Overall Hunting Report:This was the worst by far, can't think of any other year where it was this bad! I rode on 22,000 acres and saw 3 ducks, THREE! I just want somebody to explain that to me, I don't get it! Another year has come and gone, I can't imagine any season worse than this one. Its times like these that will break the average man!