If late season geese are going to be in your sights, take these suggestions.
Waterfowl hunters around the country are hanging up their waders, putting away shotguns and awaiting the opener next season. But, the season is hardly over. Not if you're hunting snow geese.
In 1999, the Feds mandated the Light Goose Conservation Order. The special season is meant to help curb the exploding numbers of light geese - snow, blue and Ross' geese - that were decimating the Arctic Tundra.
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Some states start the season as early as December and many continue until March. Light goose hunters enjoy extended shooting hours, can use unplugged shotguns, often have no bag limit and the ability to use electronic calls.
Throughout the years, though, the geese have quickly learned to adapt to the extreme hunting pressure. A day spent hunting light geese can prove to be a tough one. By following and implementing a few tips into your hunting game, you can get a leg up on these wary birds.
Before the Hunt
It's important to scout before making any hunting trip, and that's no different with light geese. Simply riding an ATV or walking flooded agricultural fields for signs of them will suffice.
Once you find a potential area that may hold a fair amount of birds, think big. Hunting with large numbers of decoys, even as much as 400 to 500, is a good idea - the more the better. Decoys are highly important during the conservation season and, you may be just wasting your time without them.
Using full body decoys and windsock decoys usually do the job, but be sure to not skimp when buying. Some cheaper windsock decoys can make a popping noise in high winds and when magnified can act as a deterrent rather than a lure. No matter what, though, the geese are going to be somewhat decoy shy.
When purchasing shotgun shells, using a heavy shot load is important because of the large stature of light geese. Using 3-inch shells are effective enough, usually in BB for some knockdown power.
If you can, hunt all day. This time of year, the geese will ravage the same field until everything is gone, moving at any time during the day. You never know when a massive group will sneak up on you.
While you can use electronic calls, you may find the mass-produced types to be ineffective. Try recording real geese in a field, if you can, to get a distinct call no one else has and the geese haven't heard before.
Experiment with how loud the call is played, how the birds react and adapt to that. Adapting is key to being successful hunting these wary geese. So, mobility is also an important factor. Moving when the birds get accustomed to your location can help catch them off guard.
The light goose season is also an excellent time to put young duck dogs to work. They will get the chance to perform all the actions you will need them to during the regular waterfowl season.
So, instead of dreaming about next year's season, give the conservation season a shot. If you can find them, you are sure to have a good time. You will potentially get an action-packed morning you won't soon forget to hold you off until next year.
And to top it off, snow geese don't taste all that bad, either.