The Spring Snow Goose Blues

March 24, 2009 by  

By PJ Maguire

A  red collared blue goose landing in your decoys can change a perspective in a hurry

A red collared blue goose landing in your decoys can change a perspective in a hurry

The blues have always been American. As American as apple pie, extension tubes, electronic calls and a high enough population of the North American Lesser Snow geese to warrant a Conservation Order. In the last month, I have gone from a blues bar in Chicago on one weekend, to snow goose hunting the next, to a blues bar in Madison, WI after that, to snow goose hunting just this past weekend. Coincidence? Maybe, snow goose hunting in the spring can be frustrating at times.

My father once told me that he thought mallard ducks were the wariest of all waterfowl. That of course, was before he hunted Canada geese he explained. Then he tried a to harvest a few snow geese in the spring. Now he knows why most diehard waterfowlers consider snow geese to be the ultimate challenge.

I am not completely sure of a lot of things when it comes to hunting snow geese. Some day’s things work, other days they don’t. What I do know is this season has been, the wettest, muddiest and coldest I have experienced since I began to hunt snows in the spring.

Be prepared to go when the migration is on

Be prepared to go when the migration is on

If my group of hunting buddies did not bring a four-wheeler along for either trip, we would not have been able to decoy hunt. Period. Last Friday I even talked with a few guys that had gotten their four-wheelers stuck while trying to haul decoys out on Dakota cornfields. That type of circumstance does not impress farmers in the least.

When I went on my first spring snow goose hunt in 2002, we hunted in long-sleeve t-shirts and jeans. We would hunt all day through sweat and sunburn. It felt good to be outside hunting geese and curing ‘cabin fever’.

Spring snow goose hunting is the perfect cure of ‘cabin fever.’ It’s too early to do yard work, and the lakes are still covered in ice. Sitting in a cornfield; that has been littered with cow pies, surrounded by decoys, in the wind, all day, will make you want to be indoors.

An area void with birds can fill in the matter of a day - timing this location is the key to success

An area void with birds can fill in the matter of a day - timing this location is the key to success

Unpredictable weather patterns have made packing for hunting trips more difficult in the spring of 2007. I haven’t packed enough warm clothes, and I have paid dearly for it. This spring season I have found myself in some cold temperatures trying to stay ahead of the geese. It will be a long time before I go on another hunting trip without bringing my long underwear.

When hunting snow geese in the spring timing is everything. It is difficult to plan hunting trips in advance. If you decide to go early, the snow geese may be too far to the south. Plan a trip too late and you may not be able to find any birds south of the Canadian border.

The snow geese can push north quickly if the weather permits and the pursuit can be difficult and costly. With a blizzard forecasted at this time, some goose hunters have talked about the possibility of a ‘reverse migration.’ (Editors Note: The week after this was written a Reverse Migration DID happen – for almost 2 weeks) Freezing temperatures would send snow geese back south for open water causing a ‘reverse migration.’ Over the weekend I asked my hunting buddy Blake Hermel what he thought. He replied that it, “Sounded expensive.”

Myself, I don’t really have much to complain about after chasing snow geese this spring. My friends and I put birds in the bag five out of the six days I hunted. We never got a vehicle stuck in a place were we could not remove it ourselves with a little effort. Plus, the last time I checked there was nothing wrong with hunting clothes being caked in mud. Spray the clothes off with a hose; dry them in the sun and you are ready to go for the fall.

Regardless, having to put away the hunting gear and 12 gauges for five months gives me the blues. It is hard to believe that once there was no such thing as a spring snow goose season. The day the Conservation Order is not needed to control the population of snow geese, I will really have the blues.


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