Well, the new year is upon us and soon we’ll all be watching and waiting as spring snow goose reports start rolling in. You see, if you’re a snow goose hunter, this is a soon to be the holiday season. As large flocks of snow geese start making their way north, in shops and garages everywhere there are guys getting ready. Fixing blind and stakes, prepping ecallers, etc. are all on the list. Yes, this is what brings success most springs, being ready.
I like to rant about hunting snow geese so check out my previous 2 versions:
After last spring, I think everyone is looking for some more cooperating birds. With juvenile numbers strong, the mid to late migration will be fixing for some big shoots. But I’m one of the idiots that prefers the front half of the migration. I like numbers and lots of them. I have plenty of geese in my freezer from last fall so it’s not about harvest for me. I want to see tornadoes and lots of them…
So with that being said, here are more truths to snow goose hunting. Things that, to me, are obvious. Other stuff that just makes me laugh. So enjoy from someone who’s been there since the spring snow goose season started…
Have the Right Team
I’ve stated this before in my waterfowl hunting etiquette article but having the right guys in your group makes all the difference.
First off, there’s prepping and planning. I have zero problem planning snow goose hunting trips, but it’s always nice to have input and to lend a hand. It usually takes me a couple of days to properly pack my spread and put together a good trip.
It’s nice to have guys who help scouting, and of course, setting and picking up. Whether you’re setting for migrators or juvies, the more eyes and arms the better.
But I should also say, I don’t like hunting more than 4 guys whenever possible anymore. Maybe 5, but you get the point. Smaller groups are easier to hide and coordinate. The right team and you’re done.
Wings Ain’t Necessary
I’ve hinted at this before but I will say it again. Winged decoys aren’t totally necessary to decoy snow geese. I’ve got a ton of “trinkets” but in all honesty, I rarely put them out anymore. A relaxed feed is spread out and they’re eating. No need for stuff that sits in one place looking unnatural.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes rotaries and the trinkets help, but more often than not they’re pulled. Go for numbers and covering real estate and the rest will come together.
Pasture is Cake
Last year was the year of the pasture if you ask me. The flooded cornfields were BRUTAL to hunt in, so a lot of guys went for pasture. It’s really nice to hunt in. It’s usually solid and you can often drive a vehicle out into it (not just a quad). Now I recommend asking the landowner first, but you get the point…
When you first look at pasture spreads, you often wonder, does this look real? Well, when they’re pushing a snowline they’ll sit in it a lot. If you have sheet water in the pasture, even better. Put your decoys into the water as it simulates birds obviously using it.
While I’m a sucker for flooded corn ( I wrote about water decoy spreads last season ), pasture can save your back and be a killer setup.
It’s Gonna Be Muddy Up North
It’s going to be a weird spring, especially in the Dakotas. Not much corn was cut, it’s standing everywhere. Also, we had a very wet fall and I expect a WET spring.
With that being said, this will do 2 things. First, with the lack of corn cut what is cut will be prime real estate. As I always say, if you have sheet water in it even better.
Second, it’ll be a sloppy mess. Tracked vehicles will almost be a must in the corn this spring, otherwise, you’ll expect to possibly get stuck or rut the field.
The X Isn’t Always Necessary During the Migration
I’ve always been a migration junkie, and with that being said, I pick real estate over anything. Usually, I’m scouting weeks before the birds show up, picking out the fields that look like they will hold birds.
When birds migrate, they obviously don’t have a clue where the X was the night before, so I like to choose the right field over anything. It’s gotta have all the ingredients such as food, water, elevation for visibility, etc. The rest will come together if tornadoes turn your crank like it does mine.
Point being, find your field ahead of time and get ready.
I rarely use blinds in the spring, and typically layout in whites and backrests. If you’re going to be out there all day, you have to be comfortable. It’s important to get a good backrest and be able to sit still as the birds come down. Seems obvious but some tornadoes take a lot of time to form, and you need to sit still.
Still Haven’t Bought Into Panel Blinds
My social media has been blown up with big piles and videos of hunts taken out of a panel blind. I get it, they work. I’ve talked with many who hunt often and swear by them. But here’s where I draw the line.
I’ve always had good luck with whites laying out. I like to hunt small groups, and usually, this will work (with plenty of decoys surrounding each hunter). It’s just hard for me to put something that doesn’t look natural along the edge of the spread. Next year I will start testing but for now, I’m resisting.
Wear a Facemask
I literally have 1 rule of thumb when hunting snow geese…wear a face mask. I don’t have to tell you if you’re a waterfowler that a shiny face is a flaring machine. Go on Amazon, buy a face mask for around 5 to 10 bucks and be done with it. I buy 6 every spring to cover those who don’t have them. And yes, wear white’s too. Tyvek suits will work, but a good white outfit works better. And remember, always buy the BIG sizes so it covers your gear, otherwise, they will tear.
Yup, I’m kind of an anal hunter but what waterfowler isn’t with their setups? The reality is, we have a lot of fun doing it. You just have to cover the proper bases in order for a successful hunt to come together.
I have come to live for the tornadoes in the spring. I’m drawn to it, and when it all comes together, you can see a lot of them in a day.
Good luck this spring and be safe.