Arkansas Snow Goose Hunting

This information is intended as a tool for hunters—the group that will play the major role in reducing the snow goose population. It contains the observations, comments, and strategies compiled from wildlife specialists and hunters familiar with the snow goose. Because the experience of hunting the snow goose in the spring is relatively new, the knowledge base is also relatively small. For the spring hunting enthusiast, however this fact is less of a limitation than an added attraction of the adventure.

Although the snow goose numbers need to be reduced, hunters must continue to harvest these migratory waterfowl in a respectful, lawful and ethical manner. This includes:

  • Learning to distinguish between species in the air
  • Being certain of the species being harvested
  • Only shooting the snow goose that are within range
  • Using the snow goose that are harvested
  • Properly disposing of the remains from the dressed snow goose.

Snow Goose Hunting

AP Sports Writer – State College, PA (AP)

A century after the snow goose teetered near extinction, the winged waterfowl are presenting quite a different dilemma for many scientists and nature lovers. There are way too many of them, prompting the federal government to approve expanding hunting methods and a longer season for snow geese in hopes of eventually cutting in half a population that at one time was too small largely because of hunting.

There are now 5 million geese in just the Central and Mississippi flyways — the high-altitude highways by which the birds migrate from wintering grounds in the U.S. to spring nesting areas in Canada. It’s an increase of 300 percent since the mid-70s, according to federal data. Another 1 million snow geese use the Atlantic flyway.

The overpopulation has created a virtual goose gridlock on the ground, and scientists especially fear the potential ecological risk on the delicate nesting habitats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations approved for this spring had been provisionally in place since 1999 in the central United States. Federal officials and scientists hope the efforts are working, with the snow goose harvest up and population growth rates down.

The range of the Mid-continent snow goose extends from the tundra region of Canada to the Gulf Shores of Texas and Louisiana. The spring migration, however, funnels through a comparatively narrow strip of the Midwest, beginning in Texas and Louisiana and working its way north through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, North and South Dakota.

Averaging five to six pounds and lacking natural camouflage, the snow goose is extremely alert, wary, and suspicious. These traits are magnified hundreds of times over by their habit of traveling in large flocks. Complicating the matter further for the waterfowler, many flocks contain birds that are eight to twelve years old, with some over 20 years in age. After experiencing hunters year after year, these mature snow geese have seen it all, making them doubly wary and advancing the snow goose’s
reputation as the most challenging of all waterfowl to hunt.

SNOW GOOSE HUNTS

starting at

$150

  • Kids 16 and under are $100.00 everyday
  • Monday—-Friday   $150.00 per man.
  • Saturday—Sunday  $175.00 per man.
  • Groups of 10+ will get own field
  • Deposits are 50% per person and non refundable

Snow Goose Location

When the spring migration occurs, tremendous numbers of the snow goose will pass through the continent’s heartland in a matter of weeks. The Snow goose migrates quickly, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles at a time. This means the snow goose is moving through an area in waves, often staying only a day or two, and seldom more than a week. As a result, a willingness to travel, scout, and communicate with other hunters is often crucial to finding the snow goose. The following list offers some tips on locating geese and hunting locations.

Sharing information and possible coordinating strategies will give you the best opportunity to connect with the highly mobile, unpredictable snow goose.

Weather Makes A Difference

Hunters accustomed to fall hunting and migrations that are pushed by northern cold fronts may need to adjust their thinking. Snow and cold winds from the north can stop a spring migration while warm southerly winds will encourage the geese to move. Once the snow goose has arrived at a location, regard gusty winds and fog as favorable. Under these conditions, the geese are usually more active and fly lower. On bright, still, “bluebird” days, the snow goose tends to loaf in one location, exhibit more caution and fly at greater heights.

Tips for Snow Goose Hunting

  • Locate the general area of the snow goose concentrations and narrow the search as much as possible—which state, which country, which part of the county. This step can be simplified by taking advantage of the resources available from wildlife agencies within each state, including specific information sources such as websites and snow goose hotlines.
  • Locate feeding and roosting areas by fields, sloughs, or lakes. This step will require scouting in the area.
  • Locate landowners within your hunting area. Most landowners welcome courteous snow goose hunters in the spring and are able to give you current information as well as permission to hunt.
  • Locate other hunters who are working your area. They are not your competition; they are your best allies.

HUNT CHECKLIST

  • Appropriate camouflage upper layering systems for wet and cold conditions
  • Insulated waterproof pants
  • Warm gloves (be sure that they still allow you to shoot)
  • Waterproof and warm boots
  • Wool Socks
  • Warm face covering
  • Warm head covering
  • Optional hearing and eye protection
  • Suggested gun – 12ga
  • Shot size 2 shot or larger. BB is preferred.
  • Minimum one box of shells (25) per hunter
  • Specific snacks and drinks you may want. (Alcohol is not allowed on the property)

Snow Goose Hunting Techniques

Between Resting and Feeding Areas—Tim Brown, a South Dakota hunter, says scouting is the key to successful pass shooting. He recommends locating both the flock’s roosting and feeding areas and then identifying the flight patterns as the snow goose moves between them. Hunters can then position themselves between the resting flock and the previous day’s feeding area. He cautions that it’s important not to set up too close to the roosting snow goose. If you do, one shot may put thousands of the snow goose in the air, all heading in the opposite direction. Use wind to advantage by setting up downwind from roosts, allowing it to muffle shots and carry the sound away from the snow goose. Additionally, the snow goose will usually fly lower when working against a headwind—the stronger the wind the better.

Between Large Flocks—Watch for pass shooting opportunities when the snow goose are moving back and forth between two large flocks. Under favorable weather conditions, this movement can occur throughout the day.

Snow Goose Hunting Techniques

Between Resting and Feeding Areas—Tim Brown, a South Dakota hunter, says scouting is the key to successful pass shooting. He recommends locating both the flock’s roosting and feeding areas and then identifying the flight patterns as the snow goose moves between them. Hunters can then position themselves between the resting flock and the previous day’s feeding area. He cautions that it’s important not to set up too close to the roosting snow goose. If you do, one shot may put thousands of the snow goose in the air, all heading in the opposite direction. Use wind to advantage by setting up downwind from roosts, allowing it to muffle shots and carry the sound away from the snow goose. Additionally, the snow goose will usually fly lower when working against a headwind—the stronger the wind the better.

Between Large Flocks—Watch for pass shooting opportunities when the snow goose are moving back and forth between two large flocks. Under favorable weather conditions, this movement can occur throughout the day.

Hunting Over Decoys

Opinions vary on the most effective approach to using decoys. Usually, hunters will set large spreads numbering from three or four hundred, up to massive sets of 2,000 or more. Other hunters favor smaller spreads of two or three dozen decoys, trading the attractiveness of large spreads for the ability to move to a more favorable location.

Here as in pass shooting, scouting is critical to determine the location of geese. If they are feeding or roosting on private land, always ask for permission to hunt. Commonly, hunters who placed hundreds of decoys will use lightweight rag and windsock style of decoys, as well as white plastic bags, and silhouettes, all of which allow a large set to be completed within a couple hours. When wind is present, lightweight decoys have the added advantage of providing movement within the set, and there are hunters who say that decoy movement is vital to effectiveness.

Some hunters have found that large numbers of widely-spaced decoys attract large flocks of the snow goose, while smaller sets of tightly-placed decoys attract singles and pairs. Consider using both approaches by creating two spreads about 75 yards apart. While individual decoys in large sets are often widely spread and randomly placed, setting the decoys in distinct groups of five to eight decoys, resembling family groups, may improve the set. Separate each group from the next by five to ten yards.

Hunters employ several arrangements in their decoy spreads:

  • The fishhook spread points the shaft downwind. When this method is working, incoming geese follow the shaft in and land in the opening of the hook, which is where the blind is located.
  • The “U” or half-moon spread resembles a crescent, with the tips of the crescent pointing downwind. Approaching geese will be flying into the wind toward the center of the bend which is where the blind should be.
  • The teardrop decoy spread is wide at one end and narrow at the other with the blind in the center.
  • Floating decoys can be used in typical water sets, or placed in shallow sheet water that has collected in a field that the snow goose is using. Shell or silhouette decoys are also very effective in shallow water.
  • A variety of “flying decoys” is frequently used by hunters. These decoys add realistic movement, increasing the attractiveness of the set.

Using E-Callers For Snow Geese

The use of electronic calls is allowed during the spring conservation order. Often referred to as “e-calls.” Electronic snow goose calls use high-volume speakers to broadcast the recorded sounds of large flocks of feeding the snow goose. Their us can dramatically increase the chance of a successful hunt. A study at Louisiana State University demonstrated that electronic calls are over eight times more effective than mouth calls. While one electronic call is effective, two or more may be better. Supplement the electronic calls with traditional mouth calls. Camouflage and concealment Because the snow goose tends to approach a decoy spread from a much greater altitude than ducks or dark geese, they have a broader view of the spread, as well as more time to see anything that seems unnatural. It’s worth the time and effort to make sure you are well concealed. When dressing in camouflage, don’t forget to conceal your face. Camouflage face netting is particularly important for hunters who wear glasses.

  • Snow goose hunters frequently dress in white clothing. However, if the snow goose is flaring, lifting up, or slipping off to the side before they are within range, try switching from white to traditional camouflage and moving 100 yards downwind of your decoys.
  • Don’t forget the obvious—movement is certain to flare already suspicious birds.

Need a Arkansas hunting license?

ARKANSAS GAME & FISH

Arkansas game and fish number for a free permit to hunt snow geese: 1-800-364-4263