Category Archives: conservation action

Snow Goose Hunting Adventure – Part 2

Snow Goose Calling

Dozens of good goose calls are available, all of which areeffective in the hands of a good caller. It’s helpful to listen to wild birdsand try to imitate them with your calls. There are no better teachers. Butunless you have a friend who is a skilled caller who can teach you, you alsoshould purchase an instructional CD, DVD or audiotape that will allow you tohear the actual sounds of geese and good calling by practiced goose hunters.Study this and try to duplicate the sounds used for various situations. Aftersome practice, record yourself on a tape recorder and decide for yourself ifyou’re good enough to start calling in the field. Listen for weaknesses in yourrepertoire, then practice to improve them.

Snow Goose Hunting Tips

There’s no such thing as a casual snow goose hunt, one reason manywaterfowlers don’t participate. This sport requires large goose decoy spreadsand constant scouting.

First, you must study movement patterns of geese where you want togoose hunt, then secure permission to hunt where concentrations are located.(Most hunting is on private hunting lands.) When geese start using a field,they stay until the food supply is exhausted. Being there after they’ve startedusing the field and before they’ve eaten it out is the trick.

Elaborate ground blinds are nice but not necessary because a goosefield usually produces only one or two good shoots before geese move elsewhere.Many goose hunters simply lie on their backs in the goose decoys and wear whiteor camouflage-pattern clothing. Pit ground blinds, portable ground blinds andmakeshift ground blinds made from natural materials on-site also can be used,depending on where you hunt.

When it comes to snow goose decoy spreads, bigger usually isbetter. The decoys should be in place before sunrise to take advantage of thesnow goose’s propensity for flying early.

The most important thing goose hunters should remember is toremain well hidden and motionless until birds are well within shooting range.Snow geese are wary, and if they see or hear anything out of place, they’llavoid it. If approaching birds seem reluctant to land, flare off at the lastminute or land consistently outside the decoys, chances are they are spottingthe blind, hunter movement or something else that makes them nervous. Adjust asnecessary.

Avoid the temptation to shoot when the first geese start droppinginto your set-up. Veteran waterfowlers hold off until the lead geese aretouching down and geese in the rear of the flock are well within gun rangebefore making their move.

Remember this rule of thumb as well: If, when aiming, the end ofyour gun barrel covers more than half the bird, the goose is beyond 45 yardsand is too far away for a clean kill.

If you’re not up to the tasks just outlined, consider hiring ahunting guide. These guys can show you the ins and outs of snow goose hunting,and after you’ve experienced a hunt first-hand, you’ll know whether you reallywant to make the required investment in time and hunting equipment to hunt onyour own. Best of all, hunting guides do all the work. The hunter need notspend hours scouting, gaining hunting permission, and setting and retrievinggoose decoys. For a reasonable fee, reputable hunting guides do all this andclean and pack your birds, too.

Snow Goose HuntingConclusion

Snow goose hunting is challenging, for sure. Nevertheless, it’s asport many of us find irresistibly attractive. Goose hunting allows us toperfect our skills with a shotgun and to go afield with men we enjoy andadmire. Most of all, it gives us another excuse to be outdoors. Until you havesat in a goose spread and watched a fall or winter day unfold, develop anddecline, you have missed one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Guided Spring Snow Goose Hunts: Conservation Action

Spring Snow Goose Hunting in Early Spring

WHITE OUT: Mid Continent population studies indicate that between the mid 1960s and now, snow goose numbers grew from an estimated 50,000 to more than one million. Officials predict that by the middle of the next decade, roughly two million snowies might compete for limited space, doubling in current size. (Delta Waterfowl media photo)

By Steve Hickoff

The so-called regular waterfowl seasons may be over, but don’t put your gear away just yet. Clean it, for sure, but keep it ready to roll . . .

In the heavily human-populated Atlantic Flyway where I write this — and elsewhere around the United States — it’s not just humankind competing for space. Snow goose numbers are at all-time highs, migration time depending.

That’s good news for hunters. In late-winter and early-spring you can jumpstart your waterfowl season, extending it into spring turkey time.

Snow goose numbers exceed available food and habitat in many areas. As a result, federal and state wildlife management organizations now offer expanded seasons for these waterfowl in many locations. By conservation order, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has specifically mandated this effort to control growing numbers.

Though they’re hunted elsewhere, eight states in the Atlantic Flyway were open last year under the “conservation order” for late-winter and early-spring snow goose hunting. These included North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware to the south, and New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont to the north. Check your current regulations as changes may appear there.

More geese? Waterfowl hunters couldn’t be happier. So how do you hunt them?

First check to see if your state offers a late-winter or early-spring season. Many do.

Once licenses, permits and stamps are secured, assess your waterfowling gear. You may need to amp up your decoy holdings with snow goose fakes. Shells and full-body options are widely available for this growing sport.

As with real estate, location is everything. Scout for these so-called “light geese” in agricultural haunts. Gain permission from landowners to hunt these spots. Be there before dawn the next morning to set your spread of dekes.

Huddled in a layout blind, snow goose calls on a lanyard around your neck, non-toxic loads chambered in your shotgun, you’re ready to roll.

Some other tips to hunting these light geese include:

Your effort to find them might begin where they roost, and include locating a nearby field where they feed and/or might forage. Study them for a pattern of use. They’ll often move and feed early in the day and later in the afternoon, loafing elsewhere during midday. Sometimes too they just move on.

Study maps, drive and glass fields, and seek landowner permission at all costs, explaining what you’ll be doing and even why. Set your spread at midday for later afternoon hunts. If it feels right, get back there the next morning too. Don’t pressure a spot; then again, hunt it while it’s hot and even just a little warm.

As camouflage goes, wear white if snow covers the ground, or standard options if you’re in a layout blind or using natural cover. Blend in, no matter what. Snowies feel the pressure, and adjust accordingly. If possible, hide all unnatural evidence, including your truck, trailer and four-wheeler. Make it look real.

Spreads should consist of as many snow goose decoys as possible. Full body snows, shell fakes, and silhouettes should round off your presentation. It’s not unusual for a hardcore snow goose hunter to place several hundred to even 1,000 or more decoys out in a field, and even use wing flags to impart movement to the spread.