Spring Goose Season – A Lesson Learned

March 23, 2009 by  

By Jason Phillips

 I  learned a very valuable lesson during the snow goose migration this spring, a lesson that will definitely help me bag more birds next year. The weather in the northern plains this past winter was anything but typical, so it was no surprise that the snow goose migration was also unpredictable which demonstrated the importance of flexibility when hunting snow geese in the spring.

With little to no snow cover there was very little sheet water in the fields. So migrating waterfowl had to wait for lakes, sloughs and other bodies of water to open up, but since most of them had a couple of feet of ice that needed to thaw, open water was the determining factor in the snow goose migration. The geese began to trickle into the state right on schedule, the weather was in the 40s and even the 50s when the scouting groups began to arrive, however their journey north was quickly put on hold as they had to return south due to the lack of open water. It was difficult to determine where the birds were going to be the from day to day, north in the morning and back south in the evening. It was a waiting game.

The geese finally seemed to be moving into the state on Easter weekend, the migration was on! The patience had paid off, it looked like we were in for some great action. But just as the birds began moving through old man winter came back with a snowstorm, dropping 4-8 inches of snow on the southeastern part of the state and three days of subfreezing temperatures. The migration was once again put on hold but the forecast for the upcoming weekend looked promising, temperatures into the 50s and strong winds out of the south.

On Saturday the winds shifted from the south and brought the promise of birds once again, but the day proved to be a very difficult day in the decoys with winds up 50 miles per hour. It was a great migration day for the geese, but it was difficult to keep the spread together with the strong winds. The wind and mild temperatures had definitely triggered the movement of birds and at least partially opened up some bodies of water in the state. The birds were finally moving through, the forecast for the rest of the week called for mild temperatures. This was it, the stage was set for the snow goose migration….finally!

The next day was another great spring migration day and proved to be the end of the migration in our part of the state, but fortunately we got into the action. We decoyed birds off the roost as well as birds that were migrating from the south, the action was steady until about 11:00 am. Maybe there were more birds to our south? We spent the rest of the day waiting for more snow geese, but it appeared that they had moved through. I had missed the height of the migration, but the last day proved to be worth the wait and was very memorable hunt. These birds don’t follow a schedule, so keep your spring schedules open because you never know when these birds will be moving through.


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