Migration Alert: Light Geese Trickling North, Cold Front May Stall Migration

Feb. 22, 2014 - Mississippi and Central Flyways
By Chris Jennings, DU Web Editor

Light goose hunters throughout the lower Mississippi and Central Flyways should prepare for just about anything next week. A warming trend has the birds beginning to head north, while the expected arrival of a powerful cold front may stall the spring migration. Fortunately for Mid South goose hunters, the game isn't over – it's just getting interesting.

"Last week was the first true sign of a northward migration that I've seen," says Luke Naylor, Arkansas Game and Fish waterfowl program coordinator. "We definitely picked up geese from Louisiana, and I think we lost some birds that were ready to move north. I am getting a sense that the geese are getting anxious, and although we are seeing movement, most of it is within the Delta."

Excellent hunting opportunities exist during the Light Goose Conservation Order for those willing to put in the time and effort to hunt these prolific birds. Naylor enjoyed a spectacular goose hunt last weekend, despite horrible conditions.

"We had no wind, our rags weren't moving at all, but the geese worked well and we had lots of 15-yard decoying shots," he says. "I recommend that if you can get out and hunt this week, do it. I have received reports from agricultural pilots that there are still a lot of geese in southern Arkansas and all throughout the Delta."

Conditions might also be looking up for hunters in the Midwest, as light goose numbers have recently increased on Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) near St. Joseph, Missouri. "On Wednesday, Feb. 19, we were holding 18,000 light geese. Although there hasn't been an updated formal bird count, there may be 75,000 today," says Corey Kudrna, Squaw Creek wildlife refuge specialist. "Our peak numbers usually occur around March 15, so the migration is neither ahead of nor behind schedule."

With the high temperature at Squaw Creek NWR expected to be in the mid-20s by Tuesday, Kudrna is skeptical that goose numbers will improve dramatically on the refuge next week, but he doesn't expect to lose many birds either.  
"These birds can weather a good storm, so I don't expect many geese to push back south. And once they are here in peak numbers, they may move north the next day," he says.
 
Currently, light geese have been reported on the Ducks Unlimited Migration Map from Louisiana and Oklahoma to Nebraska and southern Illinois.

"It's sunny and 55 degrees right now in Little Rock," Naylor says. "These are great migration days for light geese. The good news for Arkansas hunters is that the state hasn't emptied out, and we've still got a little while before that happens. Selfishly, I'm hoping the north wind keeps them here a little longer."

Find Light Goose Migration Updates on the Ducks Unlimited Migration Map