Successful Snow Goose Hunting
The first Spring Snow Goose Hunting conservation order seasons will open in around a week. For those of us that chase snow geese, we know the battle that is about to insue against mud, hundreds, if not thousands of decoys, and the goose that can be so stupid yet so smart. It's an obsession that a lot can't relate to. Why spend hours setting up decoys in the mud with the possibility of just shooting a few birds? It's about seeing one of the most amazing sights in waterfowl hunting; thousands of birds screaming with wings locked straight up from you. To get to that point in the hunt, much care and work has to be done. Here are a few waterfowling tips for increasing your odds this snow goose hunting season.
As with any waterfowl hunting, you have to be hidden. It's one thing to fool a flock of 15 ducks or Canada geese, it's another to stay hidden from hundreds or thousands of snow geese. In past years, we've always used layout blinds. We pack decoys and fliers around the blinds in order to break up their outline and use as much brush from the field as we can find. This year, we are going to give white suits a try. Whether it be white tyvek painter suits or white sweatpants and hoodies, wearing white will help you blend in with the decoys. It may not be as comfortable and warm as a layout blind, but it'll increase your odds at getting snow geese in close.
2. Decoy Setup
We've tried every pattern in the book and studied tons of geese feeding in fields. We feel the best way to arrange your spread is as random as possible. There's no one right way to do. What works today, will not tomorrow. The only mainstay is having a large concentration of decoys on the upwind side of the spread. Snow geese are aggressive feeders and are constantly fighting to get to the next available chunk of food. The thickest group of birds is going to be at the leading edge. What you do with the rest of the decoys is up to you. We space some out while we pack others in at random. String some lines of geese downwind and add a couple small groups off to the sides. You can leave a kill pocket or not. Most of the time when you see snow geese landing on other snow geese, they find whatever room they can find and drop in wherever or they'll land ahead of all of them to get to the fresh food.
3. Don't be Greedy
In our first few years of chasing snow geese, we got mesmerized with the large groups of birds tornadoing down onto our decoy spread only to wait too long and only shoot a couple birds. We quickly learned to take the first opportunity given. Chances are, you're not going to get the entire group in range. If 6 birds drop out lower then the rest, take them! Granted, every once in a while it might pay to be patient, but more often than not a couple birds will pick up on something and the rest will follow. Don't give them the chance to leave if they're in range.
The use of electronic calling is allowed during the conservation order seasons. The most effective e-caller has clear, crisp audio, and multiple speakers. Arrange the speakers so that the audio covers the entire spread. Ideally, you have at least 4 speakers where you can point them in all directions increasing your odds of drawing the attention of distant flocks. In a perfect world, you have more than four allowing you to cover your spread and put a couple pointing up or a separate mp3 player on a couple other speakers allowing you to run a different track. Snow goose audio track are layered. Being able to layer a couple layered tracks creates all sorts of different sounds coming from your spread!
We've chased the "X" for years only to be burned many times. Often times, snow geese will not return to the field they were feeding in the prior morning or afternoon. They feed so aggressively and in such large numbers, they can exhaust a food source very quickly. What we do it look for the most used flight line or an area with multiple groups on the ground. They might not return to the same fields, but chances are they'll be back in the same area. Being setup in that area will definitely increase you odds of putting down good numbers of snow geese. If you can't find multiple groups on the ground, you can at least see where the most geese are flying over. The more geese you can be under, the more that will make mistakes!
It takes an incredible amount of work to be successful in snow goose hunting. Short nights, ankle deep mud, and having to set 10's of dozens of decoys deter many from snow goose hunting, but some many of us, it's the point in the waterfowl season we look forward to the most!