The Late Spring Cure

Towards the end of April the thermometer reads warm going on hot; little league parks enliven with play, lawns awaken in green, azaleas erupt in colorful bloom; crappie swim slowly in hot grease, crawfish turn crimson in a cayenne pepper bath.  Spring is great.  Even when viewed from about 3,500 miles north of Mississippi - during a spring snow goose hunt in Canada.

Ever had that itch to duck hunt in April? See, it's not really duck season somewhere.  April is the tough one.  Duck season is closed in North and South America. Snow geese remain open through the end of May if you don't mind travel.  As they hit the home stretch to Hudson Bay area, snow goose hunting is unlike anything you'll experience elsewhere.

The endless 12-month waterfowl season - the essence of GetDucks.com - now includes the consistently best decoying snow goose hunt you might ever experience. Deploying a spread of silly socks goes quickly, even with two guys.  We put out about 120.  A number far, far smaller than normally used to describe the typical snow goose hunt spread; roughly one-third the number of decoys surrounding an Arkansas pit blind were placed on the X.  About a dozen kites and a custom-built e-caller completed the set up.

With temps near 30 and a slight northwest wind, breaking sweat was a non-issue.  I was glad to have packed a warm jacket after all. The spectacle that is Manitoba was plainly heard.  The loud symphony of waterfowl from myriad lakes and sloughs surrounding us was near deafening.  In a good way.

The agricultural landscape teemed with breeding pairs of greater Canadas and ducks, with hungry flocks of lesser Canadas and snow geese. We set the white and gray spread in a small depression central to a barley field.  From within the straw-covered field blind I felt Delta quivering with anticipation.  She had heard the geese too. The snow geese were roosted up wind.  Loose flocks flew into the field, over the decoys and then, from down wind, predictably turned acutely and sailed right into the spread.  Several throughout the morning landed, or hovered just above the stubble.

Shooting distances were measurable in mere feet.  Forgotten immediately were the orchestrated skybusts endemic to coastal snow goose wintering grounds. The morning snow goose hunt became a brisk rhythm of motion:  reload, pick mature snows from incoming flocks, shoot, handle Delta.  Repeat.  Doubles and triples seemed easily accomplished.  Kind of hard to miss at that distance.  Except when someone says something like "easy triple"  just before you pull the trigger.

We passed on a few flocks to photograph decoying Canadas or to watch each other shoot;  to handle Delta on a few long cripples and to count dead birds.  It still ended way too quickly; took about 45 minutes to achieve our 2 man limit. Manitoba is one of those funny places up north that enforces a 3 shell policy and protects Ross's geese during the spring period.

The limit is 20 snow geese, but that is fine.  Twenty of anything that decoys so well is ample. The countless thousands of snow geese cleaned on the wintering ground seemed emaciated compared to the spring snows of Manitoba.  With little hunting pressure, they had gorged themselves on waste grain for weeks.  They were so fattened that many literally popped open on impact during hunts; on the cleaning table, their plumage shucked from perfectly full, brick-shaped breasts as easily as removing an old, wool sock.

Blues were far more abundant than were their white-phased counterparts.  About 80% of birds harvested were blues.  Ross's geese tended to mix more readily with cacklers than with snow geese.  This helped distinguish Ross's from snow geese.  But our best intentions were not 100% fool proof: about mid-way through the morning we dropped 5 blues from a low, incoming flock.  One from a close double, we soon learned, was an honest mistake - a juvenile blue-phased Ross's goose!  Thankfully, Canadian Wildlife Services does not recognize Ross' as having blue phases so we were perfectly legal.

The second morning was not so easy.  The wind ceased during the night.  In anticipation of the heavy frost that accompanies windless mornings, we deployed full bodies.  About 75 decoys in all formed a loosely strewn x pattern.  The snow geese did not finish as closely as they had the preceding morning, yet they were close enough that steel 4's were effective for much of the time.  It took almost an hour and a half to complete our limit.

Temperatures were in the mid-50s when we finished cleaning birds.  I'd finally found the perfect spring cure; the waterfowl hunt that completes the endless, 12-month waterfowl season.  Of nearly 3 dozen Canadian waterfowl hunts spanning 4 provinces, this snow goose hunt ranks very high among them.  Yes. It was that good.

Anyone that enjoys decoying waterfowl will love this April through May snow goose hunt.  Whether you are tiring of stratospherically high snow geese, needing a weekend reprieve from the off season, looking for the perfect taxidermy specimen or wanting to try something completely new - like hammering in-your-face, decoying snow geese - this is a terrific snow goose hunt at a package price that everyone will appreciate.

Got the late spring fever for waterfowling? Contact Ramsey Russell toll free for more information 1-866-438-3897

Ramsey Russell's GetDucks.com