Snow geese keep hunters coming back for more
Chuck Uzzle – For The Record
I stood at the edge of my driveway with my head cocked to one side and a smile on my face, the big group of speckle bellied geese finally came into view and the picture was now complete. I turned to walk back into my yard to continue working with my 6-month-old lab puppy and I froze again, this time it was snow geese that stopped my forward progress. I don’t know what it is but it seems I hear geese almost everywhere these days, sort of like you think you hear the phone ring when you are in the shower, you are not quite sure but you have to stop and listen anyway.
For legions of waterfowl hunters the goose represents a regal and extremely
challenging quarry. Many hunters believe the mature snow goose is perhaps the toughest of all game birds to hunt, they have great eyesight and their instincts are incredible. On a typical goose hunt most hunters take plenty of the “snow white” juveniles, they are the easiest to lure into shotgun range. Mature snows, with their noticeably darker plumage and bigger bodies, tend to be decoy wary and much tougher to fool. A true big mature snow is indeed a trophy to be proud of as any hunter can attest to.
The flocks of these great birds have invaded the Texas coastal prairies and have afforded hunters some outstanding action. Guides along the coastal prairie have had some outstanding hunts lately thanks to some foggy mornings. The overcast skies and foggy weather make it much easier decoy these wary birds into your spread. During the second split it seems like the geese are making the transition from rice stubble to plowed fields where they are dining on all sorts of different foods. Hunters with access to plowed ground and green fields have the upper hand for the rest of the season as the menu will change once these birds ready themselves for the migration back north. Green field hunts in January can be awesome as the geese load up on the protein rich grass, sometimes it’s difficult to even shoot them out of a field. I have seen farmers drive into green fields to work and the geese will get up just long enough for the farmer to pass and then they go right back to same spot and continue eating. Late regular season hunts and early conservation season hunts will more than likely be better in these green fields.
Speaking of the conservation season, Texas could stand to take a page out of Louisiana’s playbook. Over across the river the goose hunters get to take
advantage of the conservation season during the split between duck seasons, talk about a bargain. If Texas would allow hunters to be able to hunt under the special conservation rules during the regular season you can bet there would be a drop in the overall population. The problem with allowing the special rules to go into effect that go along with the conservation season is that you are technically illegal by normal standards. During the conservation season you can hunt with an unplugged gun, you can now carry 5 shells instead of just 3. Also during the conservation season hunters can use electronic calling devices, these are illegal during the regular season. One possible way to get around this is to make it illegal to possess any bird other than a light goose if you are hunting with an unplugged gun or a calling device, if you have a duck in your possession you would be in violation of the law. This probably will never happen but it sure makes you wonder how good it could really be.
For now though hunters will have to make due with the birds that are here and
wait until January to break out the callers and unplug their shotguns. The only
problem with having to wait until special season comes around is that there are a bunch of geese already leaving and heading back north, the special season is really only good until about Valentines day. After the middle of February these geese are spooky and flying high, not a good combination for hunters. For those folks willing to venture north to Arkansas or Missouri the spring conservation season is about as good as you could ever imagine.
Most of those birds sit there for a few months and rarely get hunted until the conservation season opens and then it just gets crazy good. This trip is a must for any waterfowler.
As for right now the hunting is good and should do nothing but get better. The
next time you hear that faint noise above and look up and see that familiar line of geese in the shape of a “V” you can bet you’re not the only one looking to the sky and wondering.