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Light Geese: They’re Not Cat Food!

Gosh darn, I hate it when any wildlife specie, especially a game specie, is demeaned in any way. All wildlife matters. On my personal Facebook page, I had one of my friends (I ‘friend’ everyone, by the way) call snow and Ross’s geese that I had harvested during the Light Goose Conservation Order hunting period “cat food” on a pic I shared. I know it was meant somewhat in gest, but also with some personal candor. I deleted the comment. Here’s the pic.


Look friends, migratory snow and Ross’s Geese (light geese) have overpopulated in this world, but they are certainly not cat food, garden fertilizer, “sky carp,” “bad lutefisk with feathers,” “over-cooked catcher’s mitts,” or any other derogatory name you want to call them! As a hunter, if the light geese I have shot don’t taste good at the dinner table, it’s my own fault! It is up to the individual hunter to properly care for and prepare game birds and animals to please the palate.

That being said, I’ve literally shot tons of light geese in my hunting life. I have never had poorly tasting ones. I will tell you though that great tasting snow and Ross’s geese at home actually start in the field. There’s no question that lack of adequate care in the field is the reason that some who like to hunt waterfowl vehemently dislike light geese. You have to keep in mind that the body of a Snow goose, for example, is well-insulated with hundreds of beautiful feathers including many down feathers.


What’s crucial for hunters to remember when harvesting Snow and Ross’s Geese during this current Light Goose Conservation Order with warm weather, is to cool them down and field dress them as soon as you can after the retrieve is made!


If not done, the residual body heat of the birds can cause your meat to be putrid, almost downright rancid. So, here’s what you do. Have your hunting companion take a quick pic.


Then, get them out of the sun, don’t pile them up, field dress them and place them in large coolers with ice. Oh, I know full well, that this process does mean more work, but you’ll be glad you did it when dinner is served! Also, a regulation reminder is in order. Don’t forget that in transport, like all waterfowl, Snow and Ross’s geese need to have either the head plumage or one fully feathered wing attached to their bodies for identification purposes.

As a migratory waterfowl specie and game bird, I have great respect for light geese. They’re older, wary, traveling birds, and are difficult to hunt. At times, there are upwards of tens of thousands of birds in a single flock. it is something to see!


There are a lot of eyes inspecting potential landing zones and looking for anything suspicious. They see a lot of different hunting spreads on their long-range migration journeys. It truly is a real challenge to try to lure them into large decoy spreads with electronic callers and motion decoys.


Light geese are sneaky, too! This juvenile Ross’s goose somehow snuck into our decoys.


If you are looking for a variety of delicious snow goose and other wild game recipes, check out the Food for Hunters blog done by NE Game and Parks cohort Jenny Nguyen and her friend/associate Rick Wheatley. How about a Pulled Berry-Chipotle Snow Goose Sandwich recipe, huh? Mmm … Look at their photo below. For details on making this, click here.


Bon appétit!

About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Public Information Officer and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media channels, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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