Interesting year so far in many ways:
Seems like local puddlers definitely flew out of the area on that early cold spell. We've found puddlers to hunt, but MUCH more scouting and driving literally to all corners of the state to find them. Still getting enough birds to limit/almost limit on 2-4 man hunts, but working somewhat harder in general to get them. The ones we're shooting are big bodied & fuller/later plumage (real beauties, actually) than I'm accustomed to seeing at this point in the season - seem to be early migrators. They are somewhat wary from hunting, but have been working to the dekes OK.
On the other hand, there's CRAZY numbers of geese all over the state this year. We're finding enough flocks of uneducated birds to enjoy some excellent "in your face" decoying & shooting on interior zone birds coming to cut corn & alfalfa. One bad development is that we have an influx of new hunters using our fields in the Champ. Islands. Very nice fellas, but they're using turkey chokes to pick-off geese out of huge flocks at huge ranges even as the birds are decoying into the spread. The birds are adjusting to this approach swiftly, and starting to avoid decoys at all costs. I hate to complain, but we've always tried to shoot the small flocks, in close when possible, so little to no birds get away any the wiser. It's nice to leave some birds birds uneducated enough to decoy for another hunting party, if not your own on the next outing :-)
OK, I'll step down off the soapbox now & just say it has been tremendous fun "cracking the code" to find birds during this slightly funky-so-far season, and we're looking forward to seeing what the remainder brings. Best of luck to all VT hunters!