Monday, March 11, 2013

Hunting the Snow Goose Migration North


The reports are coming in and the snow goose migration north may be starting to come through the Omaha area soon.  Two major snow storms have stopped the migration altogether and probably have pushed many of the birds back south.  As of February 11th the count was 1,003,600 and as of March 4th the count was 276,273.  This may not be good for our snow goose season.  However, they could be spread out along the bottoms as they work their way north.  Desoto National Wildlife Refuge just east of Blair, Nebraska as of March 6th, did not show any snow geese.  There was a good population of Canada Geese and Mallards, but they are out of season till this fall.


When tracking migration in the spring, we look toward the south and Squaw Creek.  Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwest Missouri near Mound City. The refuge was established August 23, 1935 as an Executive Order 7156 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a refuge feeding and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The refuge is 30 miles northwest of St. Joseph, Missouri. It is 100 miles north of Kansas City, Missouri, and 100 miles south of Omaha, Nebraska. The refuge includes 7,415 acres of wetlands, grasslands, and forests along the eastern edge of the Missouri River floodplain.


Desoto National Wildlife Refuge in years gone by was an excellent barometer of the shooting that might take place, but they have not stopped there like they used to.  Our club does take a look at the population of birds on Desoto in the fall.

Located just east of Blair, Nebraska, the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge is located in the migratory bird corridor of the Missouri River floodplain and provides essential habitat for resident, migratory and endangered species. High quality floodplain forest, grassland, wetland, sandbar and river habitats support diverse and productive populations of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and neotropical birds, as well as rare, threatened and endangered species, including the pallid sturgeon and piping plover. 


The refuge is a destination for people who want to explore the habitats and wildlife of this part of the Missouri River and get a glimpse of what pre-settlement Iowa and Nebraska may have looked like.

When the snow is off the ground and the temps begin to warm, the migration usually starts with the birds swirling their way north.  Southerly flow and balmy days are what we are looking for.  This is gentleman hunting.  Decoying is by far the most productive way of attracting the geese in the spring.  Experience has shown that the bigger the spread the better the chances of attracting a flock of geese that are feeding or looking for water.

Following feeding flocks by pass shooting is another way to harvest a few birds.  The snow geese feed into the wind.  Gaining permission from a farmer may present an opportunity to get up wind from a feeding flock and harvest some birds. 

After a cold front, very few birds will be migrating.  In this type of condition, it is important to hunt close to a refuge, if at all possible.  It is also more important to work smaller flocks as they seem to be more susceptible to decoying. 

Right now as of this writing, the opportunity for some snow goose shooting is not shaping up as a heavy blizzard just occurred this weekend. 

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Good hunting, good fishing and good luck. Hank


 



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