Snow goose conservation season full of highs and lows
When the federal authorities granted hunters the extra time to hunt light geese after the general season closed they did so with conservation in mind as the population was skyrocketing out of control. Waterfowl enthusiasts welcomed the opportunity with open arms, any chance to keep hunting was sure to be a hit.
The first couple of years there were some incredible hunts as many goose hunters took advantage of the liberal rules and brought along the electronic callers and plenty of shells. All the hype began to die down as the geese got wise and soon were as educated as a Harvard grad. Many outfitters stopped running hunts during the conservation season because the geese just quit cooperating as they were preparing for the migration north.
The only aces in the hole that waterfowl hunters had to rely on were help from the weather in the form of fog or a good population of juvenile birds. Any combination of the two results in a hunt to remember.
Unfortunately for many goose hunters the conservation season so far has been anything but stellar. The warmer temperatures have really sent the birds back north early and the ones that are still here want very little to do with anything that resembles a decoy spread. For the first several years of the conservation season the consensus between most guides was “if you don’t get them before Valentines Day you may as well be fishing”.
This year shooting geese anywhere near Feb. 14 will be a tough task unless you are willing to travel. Places like the Texas Panhandle, Arkansas and Missouri have become late season hot spots for folks chasing geese and the late season snow geese in particular. In like Arkansas and Missouri most hunters are focusing on other birds during the regular season and not really putting much pressure on the snows.
This pattern allows the geese to more or less relax for weeks at a time until the regular season ends. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the less these birds are pressured the easier they are to hunt so you can only imagine how good it can be.
Hunting late season geese is a mystery to say the least because these birds are right on the verge of leaving and the phrase “here today gone tomorrow” sums the whole season up.
A green field with thousands of geese aggressively feeding is not a lock by any means, whole concentrations of birds will up and leave overnight only to have hunters the next day left to do nothing but shake their heads and curse these wary birds. On the other hand if you pick the right field, have the benefit of fog and have the birds come in you cannot believe the action.
These birds know that time is running out and their need for rich green grass will often overcome their cautious nature. In years past all of these factors rarely came together producing such promising conditions, this year will definitely go down as one to remember for many hunters.
If you are planning on taking advantage of the conservation season it would be wise to do it as soon as possible because daily the birds are leaving. Another option would be to take a road trip north and get in on the action up there.
If you can’t make yourself believe hunting season is really over here is your chance to really end the season on a high note. If you happen to get in on the right hunt all those bad ones seem to be forgotten, funny how that works isn’t it.