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Have any of you noticed over the last 5-8 years that the snows leave the roost later in the morning than they used to? I remember 10+ years ago we always had the first few bunches come in when it was still 1/2 hour before sunrise (were talking fall hunting). Nowdays they wait till sunrise and also you see very few singles and pairs any more. Used to be if you had a bad morning.. picked the wrong field or the weather was too nice you could always pick off some juvy singles but lately you just dont see them, always in bunches. Weve had decent hatches and there are plnty of juvies around most years so they must be learning somehow.
 

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I have noticed this while in ND because I think the birds are a lot more wary now because of the hunting pressure. While hunting in canada we almost always have geese flying by legal light. I don't know why, but in Canada we usually see a higher ratio of young birds then we see in ND, maybe this has something to do with them flying earlier. Most mornings a single will come off of the roost while it is still too dark to see it until it is right in front of you. The big flight of geese usually consistantly get up about ten minutes after shooting light in Canada. Canada is a lot like ND in the good years. I doubt I am going to make it up there this year and through college and I will miss, but I guess I will be able to afford a lot more trips with a college education.
 

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Snow geese are adaptable, and it shows in their flight patterns. I too remember the good old days of the early birds. It just appears the later the year gets, the later they come off.

Hunting bluebird mornings for snow geese in the fall is always tough. An hour after sunup your morning is basically over. That's where hunting Canadas in October more enjoyable. You still have a chance on bluebird days.
 

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You guys are all to young to remember how it was back in the late 70's and early 80's.When I first moved here in 1976 there was a lot of weekend pressure.The birds would feed late into the evening and sometimes after dark and would then sit on the refuge until 12:30-1:00.We would set up our decoys along the fence and you could set your watch by when they would start to go out to feed.We would be lucky sometimes to get 1/2 hour of shooting.Especially on warm bluebird days when there was a full moon.I remember several times going out at 3-4:00 in the morning and driving into a stubble field full of geese.
 

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This is one of those unrelated yet related stories. The California Waterfowl Association is conducting a radio-collaring study of wintering pintails in California. One of most amazing stories out of the study was the track and schedule of one of the radio-collared hen pintails. Over the course of her entire stay in California during the hunting season, she was never off a refuge during shooting hours. She consistantly left the refuge after 8:00 pm to go and feed, then return 1 - 2 hours later, leave the refuge around 4:00 am and return before the morning shoot. Simply amazing. Kind of makes you wonder what type of "artificial selection" hunting is really doing to these birds. Another topic for another day.
 

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Chris:

The study was parterned with USGS and CDFG and is not available yet on their website. The story about the hen pintail came from three members discussing preliminary data of the study on a local radio sportsmen show. I believe they finished collecting data last year, and now have moved on to an in-depth mallard study. I will call over there and see what the status of the report is and when it will be available on their site.
 

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I don't know if I have noticed what Wood Duck has observed. There have been so few of the darned things in North Dakota the last few years when I have hunted that I was just happy to see a few all day. I suppose it depends on how close you are set up to the roost and the total number of birds in the area. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes for them to fly out to the feeding field if it is a ways away from the roost.

I do remember one time 10 or more years ago that a goose came into the decoys when it was virtually dark while we were setting up. We were only 20 yards away from the thing and could not see it clearly. It really couldn't see us either as we called to each other in our hunting party and assembled to watch it standing there. It eventually flew away.

I, like Ken, also remember back to 1976 when the birds would come off Lake Alice at about 12:45 p.m. There were some birds out earlier in the morning. But, the mass feeding movement was 15 minutes before we had to quit shooting. That was very frustrating. There were also tens of thousands around by October 10. Not anymore. "The times, they are a changin," said a fellow Minnesotan a few years ago.
 

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I have been seeing the same thing in my area. We still get geese to come in before shooting time but not as many as before.
 
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