Scouting for Snow Geese
As most of us in the Northern states start to wind down our regular waterfowl seasons, the snow goose hunter begins to prepare for the conservation season. This is the spring season where you can use electronic callers, pull the plug out of your shotgun, and there are no limits. Scouting for Snow Geese can actually be pretty fun.
Like all other successful hunts, it begins with scouting. The endless hours put in behind the steering wheel, glassing fields, and knocking on doors. There is more to scouting than just finding a field full of birds. Many factors contribute to whether the field you found is even possible to hunt in. Is the field at the end of the flight line? By that I mean is the field at the furthest point that the birds are flying from the roost. If this is the case, you may kill birds, but when you shoot into or lose the fist flock, your hunt could be over. I say this because, depending on the size of the feed in field, when the birds move on after you shoot, they cold settle in the next field, pulling over other bird coming out, or the whole mass could come out at once. If you have found a field that has traffic still flowing over it, even with the birds feeding there, you will stand better chance of shooting more than just that group.
Now that you feel confident that this is the spot. The next step is tracking down the landowner for permission. One little bit of advice I can give you is to be polite and respectful whether they say yes or no and give them as much time as they want to talk. Some will not want to discuss much, but others may talk for hours. If you can not get permission on the field you are scouting, start working your way back toward the roost, that way at least you are still under the birds.
After obtaining permission, other factors come into play. What is the access point to get into the field? This is an extremely important aspect of the hunt. Nothing is worse than showing up to a field and not knowing how to get in. Once this is determined, mark it on a GPS, phone, or place a small marker. This will be helpful in the future because things look completely different in the dark.
Next, figure out how the birds are sitting and where at in the field. These both determine how and where you will set your decoys. Hiding will be your next task. Is there a place to set your layouts so that they’re hidden? If it is a low hide field, consider going old school and just wearing whites and laying on the ground. Remember, blinds that stick out can ruin the best laid plans.
How are you going to get your decoys in the field? This also needs to be determined so you can have the proper equipment with you. Can you drive in, do you need a four wheeler and sled, or will you have to carry everything in? These are all factors that contribute to the amount of time it will take you to set up.
All of these things can be figured out while you are watching the birds until dark, putting them to bed so to speak. There are many reasons that you do this. Snow geese are very fickle birds, they may decide to change places in the field you are hunting or to an entirely new field. Road hunters may come by and shoot at them, scaring them away. Even some farmers will come out and run them off. All of these things can happen in the last fifteen minutes before dark. This could greatly effect your success. So, you may have to adjust accordingly.
Just some advice to make your scouting a little more effective for the upcoming spring season. Be safe, hunt hard, see you in the marsh. Hope you enjoy scouting for snow geese this year!
Marsh Mutt Pro Staff Northern Director