Sunday, March 25, 2012

One Million Plus Snow Geese and Moving.

Here come the snow geese.  Every year we see them going south on their way from their northern nesting grounds.  Enormous flocks of white and dark birds all V'd out and flying at all altitudes.  That is the fall migration.  Our spot just west of the Missouri River along the bottoms holds 40 acres of water and there are cornfields all around.  They rarely stop, but seem to go from refuge to refuge.

Decoy spread on water and land. 

In the spring, the same thing happens again in reverse as they fly north to their nesting grounds.  But this time they will stop, and you have to be there at the right time. 

Part of our spread.

This is opposite hunting compared to the fall.  Everyone likes to think of it as "gentlemen" hunting because you don't have to get to the blind until 8:30 to 9 AM.  The next feature compared to the fall, is that you want to have really nice weather with light to medium southerly winds and beautiful warm sunny days.  This is totally opposite from hunting ducks and Canada geese in the fall and into the early winter.  At that time, you wear your longies, layers of clothing, and you might have to be breaking ice to keep the hole open.  The bigger the spread of decoys in the spring, all the better.  In the fall we can put out a couple of dozen and decoy big flocks of ducks and Canada geese.  The last comparison is in the fall we have some really outstanding duck callers that make beautiful music to the ducks and decoy them to our spot, or sometimes we don't call at all.  I hunted last fall with a fellow club member.  We just sat there and never called once.  By 10 AM we had a nice limit of ducks and a couple of really big Canadas.   In the spring, we use a loud speaker system with multiple sounds and changing volumes from the blind. 

Snow geese are very very wary.  You must have a lot of patience, which is something I am a little short on at times.  If they are taking a look, they begin to sail or lock up with their wings not moving and just float.  Over and over, round and around they will slowly let down.  These are very cautious birds.  That is why there are so many of them.  Eventually, if everything is just right, they will commit and the opportunity is there to harvest some game.

Walking up to the blind you can see three heads sticking out of the pit and a couple of flyer decoys hovering.

The key is to be there at the right time.  If you say, "Well, I am planning to hunt this weekend," it may be all over with.  When the report comes that the snows are in the area, head to your favorite spot.  I always remember that "a bad day of hunting is better than a great day at work."
That is Jackson, just one year old bringing in a snow goose.

Two of our members invested a lot of time.  They put out about 300 decoys comprised of floaters, field decoys, plus the fliers that circle.  The spread looked really good.  We all realize that the big commercial spreads probably put out 1000 decoys and hunt in wide open fields.  We have had moderate luck with our method of staying with the current blinds and using the water and surrounding fields for decoying birds. 

Closer shot of Jackson.  His owner spends a lot of time training him and it shows when he is on the retrieve.

On my first day I arrived at the blind around 9 AM.  The migration was in full swing as streams of geese were flying overhead.  Three hunters had already shot five birds, and it looked like this was going to be an excellent day.  One of our members brought his son along.  We always give the kids the opportunity to shoot.  When we have young people in the blind, I don't shoot, but give them all the shots.

Good shot of Jackson with Bob holding him for the picture. 

Waiting until about 1 PM, the overhead flights just kept going and going and periodically we would get a smaller flock set up and start to sail.  With other commitments ahead of me, I had to call it a day and plan for another try at it.
Junior taking a break.  Look how muddy he is from being out in the water and chasing down geese.

Getting home that evening, I received a call from my good friend John, and shortly after I left they got into a good flock and added to the kill for the day. 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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