Another warm winter (thus far) is cause for concern with many hunters. Our January temperatures reached mid to high 40's. Precipitation was minimal, and when it came, it would come in the form of rain. This caused the snow line to recede and in turn, has created a "buzz" throughout the waterfowl community. Before you write your March dates off as a total loss, read further and let me put your mind at ease...
What many fail to realize is that the weather is only 1 of 3 major contributing factors in a fall or spring migration. Warm weather and south winds can cause birds to move north, and a snow line can stall or even stop a migration, adding more days to a spring snow goose season. The moon phase and increase in daylight hours however, are the two most commonly overlooked variables that can cause geese and many other migratory birds to journey back north. If you doubt this, let me use our previous season as an example. Last year we experienced an unseasonably warm winter which left us with no snow line to stall the birds as they moved north. It seemed as though our season would end before it even began! Even with the warm weather and a snow line that receded north of the Canadian border in early March, we successfully decoyed snow geese into our rig! What happened as a result of no snow line was not a "massive" migration but a "staggered" migration where birds would move north bound in smaller flocks and at different times rather than in one large mass as we usually see. With no snow, and no ice, this had many hunters scratching their heads, questioning the unusual migration. Then the 3rd variable came into play. A cold front pushed thousands of our snows back across the Canadian border and south of our decoys! Once the weather had passed, we found ourselves shouldering the guns yet again on greater snows as they journeyed north over our decoys a 2nd time! At this point, several outfitters had already given up on the "unusual" season and were not in the fields when these birds moved through on their 2nd attempt to fly north. Even with a mild winter and an unusual migration, we were able to hunt through the month of March before finally pulling our rig and packing our trailers on Easter weekend. Our season ended a week and a half early, which is not unusual when chasing these white devils. The spring snow goose migration can begin and end a week early or late, even with average weather conditions.
The weather over the past few weeks has had many hunters, and even outfitters jumping the gun on what could turn out to be an average year. Several outfitters have put posts and videos of snow goose feeds on social media, stating they might begin hunting NY in early or mid February! A 5000 bird snow goose feed is fun to watch, and even makes for great video and photo opportunities, but it is a far cry from a huntable number of snow geese. If these outfitters go through with their plans, they may need a good set of snow shoes, shovels and ice picks to free their decoys from the hands of old man winter! For those planning to hunt with us in March and early April, pay no mind to the false prophecies of a February migration through New York. We have a few long, cold weeks in our extended forecast that we need to overcome before we can even begin to think about killing whitey!
-Capt. Ben Roggie