Snow Goose Hunting Tips For Success

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.


1. Concealment

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.


snow goose hunting tips

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.


4. E-caller

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!


5. Scouting

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!


snow goose hunting tips


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!


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Cheap Snow Goose Decoys Part 2

If you missed the first part of how we are making our own cheap snow goose decoys, here it is.

Three days of working here and there on our homemade silhouettes and the snow goose decoys are finally done! It didn't take too long to complete, but sub freezing temps and wind made it hard to stay with it for long periods of time. All the decoys were cut and needed to be staked in order to paint. We used 1/8 inch cold rolled steel and 12 inch insulation supports from Lowes. The steel is more expensive and offers a little more stability while the supports are cheaper, but are a little more flimsy. Once the snow goose decoys were staked, the yard was filled! A few strange looks from the neighbors later the decoys were finished!

The printed side of the sign was painted with gray primer. It took a couple coats to get it completely covered. After the decoy was covered in gray, it was either a heavy hazing of black for a blue goose decoy, or a couple coats of white for a snow goose decoy. A few were left a smoky gray as a juvenile snow and a few heads were left dark on the blues for juvenile blues.

snow goose decoys


The progression of primer coats on the printed side of the sign.  You have to be careful not to spray too much on it to prevent it from running.  This will prevent it from being splotchy at the end.

snow goose decoys


Unpainted, primed, blue goose, and snow goose decoys before adding feather detail.

snow goose decoys


We didn't paint it completely black, but more of a heavy hazing to leave a little gray through it for blue goose decoys.  Then, paint the head and belly/chest area white and let the white blend into the dark colorings.  We cut a stencil out of leftover corrugated plastic for feather detail.  Using separate stencils on snow geese and blue geese


snow goose decoys

The finished product!  In total they run about $6.50 a dozen with the insulation supports as stakes.  Around $9.00 with the cold rolled steel cut as stakes.  I'm sure these prices would be less with better spray painting conditions, but those prices aren't bad compared to $30+ a dozen for other decoys.  Granted, these will only be good for drawing flocks from a distance, but it'll at least grab their attention and get some flocks to us.  We'll soon find out if the time, money and effort was worth it when we roll out the snow goose decoy spread!

Cheap Snow Goose Decoys Part 1

Ryne's dad was nice enough to hook the Fowled Reality crew up with a stack of old corrugated plastic gas station signs.  They were just going to be put in the trash pile, but he knew we could put them to good use.  We are currently in the process of changing over the signs to snow goose decoy silohuettes. Easy to do and a cheap way to build the spread.  Granted these snow goose decoys won't do much good when a group of geese gets over the top of the spread, but they're be great for drawing large snow goose flocks from off in the distance!


The first thing we did was drew a feeder and a sentry stencil.  Some of the sheets were smaller than others so the small sheets could only fit feeders.  It worked out great as far as numbers of feeders versus number of sentries.  In total, we will be adding 147 snow goose decoys to our spread.  They're lightweight and take up minimal room which is key when you're transporting nearly 900 decoys.  The Illinois mud in the spring can be ankle deep and we need lightweight, easy to setup decoys.



After drawing the stencils, we proceeded to use a jig-saw to cut them out.  We were able to cut 5 sheets at a time which made the process a breeze!  With a couple weeks to go before the conservation snow goose season begins, we have some time left to paint and stake our snow goose decoys.  We're using simple 1/8 inch rolled steel cut to 12 inch lengths for stakes and some cheap flat spray paint from Wal-Mart.  We probably have less than  $0.70 wrapped up in each decoy.  Dirt cheap comparing it to $3+ for economy silosocks or $5 for already made ones!


snow goose decoys

We'll be making the majority into snow geese, but attempting to replicate a few blue phased geese with our snow goose silohuettes.  Not sure how the blues will turn out, but we'll do our best with a mixture of black, gray, and white.  Stay tuned for updates for our finished snow goose decoy silohuettes.


For the painting, staking, and finished product click here.