By Steve Hickoff
Off-season for waterfowlers can be a tough time to handle. After steady days and months of rising early and hunting hard, it all ends abruptly – but it doesn’t have to just yet. The second season on snow geese is available in many states around the country, and lasts into spring in some cases.
Step 1: Check your state’s regulations to see if it offers a special season on so-called “light geese.” Conservation order opportunities, mandated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), can allow you to look forward to more hunting as winter fades and spring begins.
Step 2: Research the “Migratory Bird Activity and Harvest” information compiled by the USFWS. Arkansas waterfowlers – among the most hardcore in the country – killed 39,079 snow geese last season according to their data – plus even more blue and Ross’ geese. A somewhat surprising 45,060 more snows were reported taken in California; a location not necessarily known for this tradition – called “white geese” there by state officials. Study up and plan your hunts in states where it’s reliable.
Step 3: Assuming your state – or one within road trip distance – has a snow goose season, contact biologists about these special opportunities. They can often point you in the direction of public land locations holding birds in migratory transition. Not interested in a do-it-yourself deal? Many outfitters also offer snow goose hunts to extend their business.
Step 4: Invest in some snow goose decoy shells as well as some full bodies to round out your spread. Motion fakes often enhance the look of your location as well. Hundreds of staked and set fakes aren’t out of the question during a snow goose hunt. Here’s where your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side will help you transport decoys to the field location you’ll hunt. Other tips include the following:
WATCH: YouTube videos and DVDs of snow goose hunts to learn how it’s done from start to finish.
ASK: questions on waterfowl hunting forums to learn more about the tactics involved. Veteran waterfowlers, some of them snow goose hunters, are often willing to help point you in the right direction.
TALK: to farmers and other big landholders in your region who might allow you to hunt the snow goose migration. Groups of light geese often number in the hundreds if not thousands in some locations.
JOIN: a conservation group such as Ducks Unlimited to meet members and strike up friendships. Hardcore waterfowlers are as secretive as any group of hunters, but once you’re in the fold, you might become one, too. Honor the tradition with your participation in the effort.