The end of waterfowl season is bittersweet, and it is quickly approaching for nearly every state in the country. On one hand, I hate waving goodbye to the flooded timber, the rice fields, and the clouds of greenheads overtop. On the other hand, one of the greatest season extenders is right around the corner, the spring snow goose season. If you haven't experienced the fast action, heavy harvests, snow cloud bonanza that is spring snow goose season, you're missing out. Most states offer liberal (if any) bag limits, as well as unplugged shotguns, making it a hunting free-for-all on harvests. It truly is a waterfowler's heaven...when timed right.
The timing of the spring snow goose migration can be unpredictable. Factors such as ice, food supply, and other northern weather conditions will all dictate your success during this narrow window. But when you're on them, it may not seem like real life. Last season brought an impressive amount of harvest numbers, and I expect this season will bring the same judging by the forecasts. The trick is, you have to pick the right states and be there, ready to hunt, at the right time. Several states stand out as top destinations for hunters to get the full experience of this conservation season. Here are my picks for the ones that need to be on your travel list this year.
I feel like hunters get so caught up with how great South Dakota's pheasant population is, that they forget just how great it can be for snows. This is one of my absolute favorite states to hammer snow geese during the later part of the season. The numbers don't lie; with nearly 30,000 annual harvests, it's safe to say South Dakota is doing something right.
Again, Arkansas is one of those states that people often overlook the snow goose population. The rice capital of the world is great for ducks, but it can be even better for snows, especially during the month of February. I've only had the privilege of going after snow geese here on two occasions, but both times were so great I could write an entire book about the experience.
If you're looking for a state that will provide you with consistent snow numbers, Missouri is that state. Huge concentrations of birds flood to this area during the spring migration, the only thing you have to do is show up. Huge decoy spreads in perennial fields are usually the ticket for Missouri hunting and seeing countless storms of birds every day is status quo.
I felt like I might be obligated to include an Atlantic Flyway state on this list, but the reality is, eastern Maryland provides some excellent snow goose hunting if done the right way. Hunting these areas typically requires the help of a guide, since land isn't as abundant as you would find in the Midwest, but the numbers are there. Smaller decoy spreads are recommended, and aggressive calling is usually required, but with a little bit of work, Maryland can compete with the best of them.
The Lone Star State always seems to get mentioned when it comes to great hunting, and the snow geese season is no different. Although hunting here can be inconsistent during the later parts of the season, if you're able to get on them early, this could easily be the top spot. The annual harvest for snow geese averages around 90,000 a year, which is impressive by any standard. It's true what they say, you don't want to mess with Texas!
Like Missouri, Kansas is one of those states that you may not see a jaw dropping amount of birds like you would in Texas or California, but you can bet that you'll have consistently great hunts year after year. Feel free to take out those plugs, break out the electric calls, and get ready for some heavy harvests, because this state should be on every avid waterfowler's list.
I always thought that California was the best kept secret when it comes to snow goose hunting. However, it doesn't seem to be much of a secret anymore. Waterfowlers "flock" to the state to get a chance on some of the largest numbers you could ever see during the migration. The past two years have been especially fruitful with an average of nearly 100,000 bird harvests per season. They've got the best beaches and apparently the best snow geese hunting. It almost doesn't seem fair.
READ MORE: 4 DUCK HUNTING HOTBEDS IN THE U.S.
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