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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anybody have some speculation on what might happen with the snows in Canada this year. Is there enough to eat? Will they move south earlier if there is not enough to eat up there this year? How bad do the dry conditions have to get before it disrupts their normal pattern? Will they slide over to Manitoba from Sakatchewan and get their fill there before they cross the border?

My second seven day hunting period starts on Halloween this year. So, I am hoping there are a few around then and we don't get froze out like last year. This year there is no option for us to go to the southern part of the state to catch up with the birds.
 

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Last year when we hunted Saskatchewan it was VERY dry. We had to use screw drivers and hammers to make holes in the ground to get decoys in. There are a lot of LARGE lakes and marshes that still hold the birds. Even with the dry conditions there seems to be plenty of peas and barley left in the fields to keep the birds in Canada later. You may find snows in ND at Halloween but I don't think you'll ever find them here agan like in the 70's.

If you want to hunt snow geese my suggestion would be to hunt about 100 miles north of the border in Saskatchewan. Yoou could jump back and forth for ducks in ND.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Fieldhunter:

It is interesting that the big lakes in Saskatchewan will hold the birds even when it is very dry. That's what I was afraid of.

I agree. I think snow goose hunting in ND has changed forever. It will never be like it was in the 70s on a steady basis. My buddies and I will be retiring soon and you can bet that we will be in Canada during hunting season, if I can get them across the border with their assorted violations.

Thanks for the opinion.
 

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Perry T:

I remember when KFGO was reporting a build up of snow gese around the last weekend of September and there were thousands here for the opener which usually was around Oct. 3. I think the total population was around 4-500,000 geese and the success of the season depended on how many yearlings there were any given year. I'm afraid all the younger guys will never see that again. You know you're starting to get old when you can talk about the good old days.

One opener in ND that I'll never forget. I believe it was approximately 1978 in the Rock Lake/ Sarles area. We arrived on the morning before the opener on 2 quarters of land that a friend had just south of Sarles and set up camp. We were told we'd have the fields to ourselves, unfortunately the marsh the geese were on was a WPA and there was access to everyone. It didn't matter. The next morning, opening day, we put up 150 home made decoys that we cut out of poster board, stapled with my Dad's stapler in a cone shape and spray painted black wing tips on them. (cost .25/ea or $20.00 for all, think about that when you're looking at the 129.00/dz silouettes) The geese were shot off the roost in the morning by approximately 80 hunters that had surrounded the marsh under the cover of darkness. As we had the only decoys up only 1/4 mile away they came right to us. 3 of us shot our limit of 5 snows, and 2 smaller canadas in about 2 hours. (It was a lot easier to get limits then. 5- Birds) Most guys at that time weren't decoying much. In fact after the initial shoot on the marshes in the morning many people just lined up around the refuges and pass shot the geese as they came off. We did it once. I argued one time with 4 other guys about who shot the lone goose that came over. Never again.

Head to Canada for Fall Snows........the good old days are there right now!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Fieldhunter:

Good story. Weren't the good ol days great? I will be submitting some more longer stories about the good ol days and some of the adventures we had in future months. I hope you enjoy my recollections on the front page of this site.

I had just started snow goose hunting in 1978. We did most of our hunting down around Churchs Ferry in those days. We always went out to ND around Columbus Day or maybe a week later. There were a pile of birds around in those days and a lot of hunters. The pressure for geese has been dropping ever since.

It is funny how I look at limits now. If I get four birds in a day, I think I have been cheated. In the old days, if I got four birds, I looked at it as being only one short of a limit. That was a good day.

I remember the morning near Snyder Lake in about 1986 when we didn't get a goose until the guys on the firing line went home about 11:30 a.m. Just after they left, the wind changed and the birds started drifting over us, unmolested. Well, they got molested when they got to us. We shot our 10 birds in about a half hour and still they came. That was right around the first of October. You could hunt geese the week before ducks opened. The next day, the duck opener, we shot our limit of ducks out of the same field but hardly any geese. Funny how it goes. Now, the geese are never around that early.
 

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As far as the dry conditions go, I have hunted southern Manitoba for several years. Back in 2000 the fields were very dry and you didnt see any green in the barley stubble. We had very poor snow goose shooting the first week of Oct and when I came back up 2 weeks later we saw snows flying west-southwest but NEVER saw ONE snow on the ground the whole week. We did have some shoots on Canadas and had some great duck hunting but the snows wernt there. Now the snows mainly feed on barley fields up there and sometimes peas, but there is very little acreage in peas there. Peas dont need moisture for the geese to be happy, barley on the other hand may be different. Sometimes the geese want the sprouted fields, sometimes just the grain.
I talked to an oldtimer friend of mine up there, he said the wheat is so-so, the barley looks OK, but the oil seeds are very poor. This guy farms so he should know. He also said there is a good but late hatch as far as the ducks go. Sloughs look OK.
I think it could be a good year, then again you never know. I know one thing... I,m glad I am not one of those poor souls who has a hunt booked in Alberts or Sask where it is much drier... some guides may not be very truthfull about hunt prospects when a big chunk of thier income is on the line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, Wood Duck. Your observations are what I was looking for. I conclude then that if it is so dry that they don't get the barley shoots, the geese will seek greener pastures, as they say. What do you mean when you say, " Peas dont need moisture for the geese to be happy?"

That 2000 season must have been a rough year in Manitoba if you did not see one goose on the ground. They did not get down to North Dakota where I hunt that year either. It was the first year that I did not shoot a snow goose on first weekend in ND. We only put out goose decoys twice and that was to attract the feeding ducks in the area. All the birds went to Saskatchewan that year.
 

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Wood duck:

It's amazing how different things are in Manitoba than Sask. In 2000 there were snows everywhere in Sask. and NO ducks. Manitoba sounds like its about the opposite. We haven't shot more than 10 mallards a year over the snow decoys up there. I here there are many more Canadas in Manitoba as well. Snows must be shiftng further and further west every year. I'm looking for a great week in Sask. As to the booked hunts up where we go......the farmes have banded together and very rarely will they let a guide on the land. Imagine they would rather have the freelancers around.

Where we hunt in Sask. the snows greatly prefer the peas and will shy away from the barley once they find them. One farmer told us a couple of years ago that the snows like the peas so well they have learned to plow them out of the fields with their beaks after they are planted in the spring.
 

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The reason they like peas is that they are easy to digest for the young birds that have eaten only grass in the arctic.SW Manitoba got dumped on last night.Melita recieved 2-3 in. of rain.Southern Sask. is also getting lots of rain recently as storms have moved North .The snows that come down across Man. should have plenty of water and food to keep them there.Same for southern Sask.It's the central areas that are having drought conditions.Follow HWY 16 across the 2 provinces and that is where it is recird dry.There are plenty of large bodies of water in the Quill lakes area to hold geese.
The 2000 season was one of the best we've ever had in Sask.I don't expect much of a change in the migration patterns,UNLESS heavy hunting pressure in the wet areas left, forces them to move and they will.
 

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Perry,
When I say peas dont need moisture to keep the snows happy what I mean is after the crop is harvested the waste peas are easily found by the geese, they eat the pea whole, it doesnt need to sprout. Peas are light and fly around when combined. Waste barley on the other hand with proper moisture can turn a field green. If a combine throws 2 bushels an acre, which isnt bad if they get 70+ bushels per acre in the bin, thats a lot since when they seed in the spring they put down 3-4 bushels per acre. I think the geese like the sprouted fields because it makes it easy to find the grain, simply pull up a clump of green and there are the kernels.
As far as Canadas go, there is getting to be a LOT of the big ones, locally raised and a good change after beating your head against a stone wall going after the snows day after day.

Field Hunter...
You had lots of snows in 2000 because we had non, they all went west. There is deffinatley a trend westward on the snow migration in the fall, but I'm not moving with them.I've got some pretty deep roots in the area I'm hunting in south central Manitoba, as the years go by we are getting fewer snows in the bag but a lot more Canadas. The ducks have been real good, last fall we pulled into a barley field about 2:30 for an evening shoot and we had greenheads at 30 yards with the truck in the decoys. It was childs play to take our 24 greenheads that afternoon (3 hunters X 8 duck limit). We topped it off with 10 giant Canadas. I had my 2 sons with me 13 and 18.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Woody,

You are a wealth of knowledge. All these years that I have been hunting snow geese, I thought they were just eating the barley shoots. It did not occur to me that they were getting the kernals at the base of the shoot. I guess you learn something new everyday. Good luck this season.

Ken,

Well, you sure dampened my spirits. I was hoping the snows would move right on through Canada a little faster this year. But, with the big rains in the southern areas yesterday, it does not look like it. Good thing you went to those Twins games while they were still winning.
 

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Wood Duck,

Sounds great. I keep asking myself why we go up to Sask to shoot just snows although its a lot of fun to trick them as they are way smarter, in my opinion, than the Canadas and the Mallards. It is a good change of pace from hunting in ND every weekend where mallards and canadas come fairly easily all season. I do think that if you looked for the mallards in Sask. you could get a fairly easy limit over water especially south of the Quill lakes area but we don't try as ND is the same thing. Just don't see the flocks of 500 in the fields anymore.

Looking forward to some Big Canadas this year up in the area that we hunt. Last year a local farmer kept telling us of the 1000-2000 "geese" he had in one of his fields every morning. We had fields that 100,000 + snows were using every morning and didn't pay any attention to him. As it turned out we had assumed the geese he spoke of were snows.....you guessed right, they were Giant Canadas. Found out about it the last day when we stopped to say thank you for the tips on where to hunt. In taking with him later in the year we were sick to hear that 5 guys from a southern state had gotten there limit of 8 Giants a piece and ducks every day for a week the next week.

This farmer also is suprised that the US hunters come to Canada way too early in the year. He told us that more years than not most of the Big Canadas and many of the younger snow geese never arrive until after most hunters are gone.
 

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Field Hunter...
The giant Canadas we are getting in S Manitoba are local breeders, no need to wait for migrants. They can be tricky buggers to scout but if you choose the right spot they decoy very nicely. Last year my son just had to use the 3-1/2" 12ga shells he bought. I told him we would be taking birds at 25 yards or less and you could kill them with trap loads if you wanted. His gun jammed on the first round fired and he couldnt clear the spent hull, boy he wasnt happy, we had the big guys coming and all he could do was cover up so we could get some action.
One of the challenges of hunting these geese is when they mix with other races of Canada geese. The small geese always fly early and it takes some fortitude to pass on them betting on the big guys to come. Scouting in the evening can be hit or miss... they dont leave water to feed untill after sunset where we are. Doesnt give you much time, any mistakes and it gets dark before you get them pinned down.
The biggest reward is when the local "boys" see your birds at the coffee shop, you could knock thier eyeballs off with a feather. They wont put in the time to do it right. Once in a while someone gets lucky and pass shoots one but to bring in limits, not hardly.

Perry...
As far as how the snows eat, your right, at times they eat the green. They used to say young snows couldnt handle the hard grain right away in early Oct but weve cleaned enough of them with thier necks full of whole kernels to prove that wrong. Decoy shooting first thing in the AM gives you empty birds but occasionally you get birds later on that have been feeding. What do you think??
 

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Wood Duck;

Interesting on the 3 1/2 " loads. My son also learned last year about them. They are very expensive and many times unnecessary for decoying. I showed a bunch of younger guys last year in Canada that what you really need is a good eye. While we were picking up decoys, young snows were passing over fairly high and I took 5 of them with
2 3/4" fast steel loads. I don't think my son will be spending the money on 3 1/2s in the future. I know some guys swear by them and will probably tell me so on this site but 3"s are good for anything 40 yards or closer in my opinion.
 

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Fh
I will say you shot the hell out the snows with those little snubs, I was really impressed. And I do swear on those 3 1/2" I love them. Since Im not a crack shot like you, I need the bigger shell. :lol: Hope you guys have a good trip this year, try shootin over the 210 mark!!
 

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Homemade snow goose decoys reminds of my youth hunting snow geese. In the late 60's ur decoys were hylex jugs with a little black paint or a square of white butchers paper with a few clumps of dirt thrown on them. It's surprising how well they worked. Of course they weren't hunted as heavily them either
 
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