It is just human nature I guess. We take out the stops, bag limits, shell limits, equipment limits and, over time, we seem to value something less. Sometimes, I think that is the case for the snow goose. Don’t get me wrong…I love to chase these critters as much as anyone but after a few years of chasing these birds I have come to a new level of respect.
To say the snow goose is an intelligent bird is to say Daryl Bauer likes to fish. If I recall, the oldest banded snow lived around 33 years! Thats a lotta years of learning how to pickout decoy spreads and short fat guys laying in fields. I really appreciate how the snow seems to hover over your decoys for an hour or so just picking out flaws in your spread. All the time, slowly descending, giving you the false hope that the words “take em” are eminent. Then, just whent you can no longer grip the shotgun any tighter, they seem to begin slowly heading back to the sky. Leaving you cowering in the corner of the blind yelling…why? why?
For snows, big spreads can work better but knowing where they want to be is 90% of the battle. They can eat out a field in a day or two so patterning them can be tough. The waiting game is often your best bet.
As most folks know, we are able to hunt snows in the spring as part of a conservation action. We generally do not hunt birds heading north to the breeding grounds. For snow geese, the need for reducing their numbers is high. They are destroying the arctic tundra breeding grounds and unless we gain better control over their growing numbers, many other waterfowl species will suffer as this fragile ecosystem is destroyed.
To me,one of the greatest benefits of spring hunting snows is that you get to witness the awesome spring migration first-hand. Hunt a pond and you are likely to see snows, specks, canadas, green heads, pintail, wigeon, and a huge host of other species all in their gorgeous breeding plumage. Now that is worth the price of admission. Thats not all, once in a while, enough times to keep us coming back for more, those snows will make a mistake and you could have a thousand birds descend upon your spread in a matter of seconds. Yep, we live for those days!
You will love them, curse them, some even cower when they hear the name but snow geese are one of the most fun and most difficult birds to hunt. They will keep you honest, test your resolve and give you some of your best days afield. For that alone, they deserve our respect.