South Dakota Snow Geese
It has been about 12 years since the Conservation Order to reduce the North American snow goose population was put into place. According to the
experts, snow geese were eating themselves out of house and home. They were literally destroying their habitat on the tundra faster than it could re- grow and replenish itself.
Snow geese have a habit of uprooting the plants that grow in the tundra to get at the roots and tubers that are found under the ground. Because this feeding habit pretty much destroys the plants, it takes a very long time for them to regrow in such a harsh environment. Thus developed the concern over the increasing number of snow geese.
As is usually the case, one series of disastrous events opened the door for a business opportunity for others. It didn’t take long for entrepreneurial waterfowl guides to start taking advantage of the situation and book clients for spring snow goose hunting.
Within a few years, the guide business was booming and is still going strong today. Like other waterfowl addicts, I have tried to do my part to reduce the population. However, I have learned it isn’t all that easy.
Unless a person is willing to lay out a serious chunk of change for a decoy
spread, hunters are better off working with a guide. Snow geese live a long time and are very smart. Large spreads of a thousand plus decoys are needed in order to be successful. Large spreads are spendy.
Timing is also pretty important. Getting in on the front part of the migration and adult birds will mean lots of bird watching but little shooting. Adult birds are very wary as they have been hunted a great deal. Being able to work the juveniles is pretty important when it comes to consistent numbers and memorable success.
During a late March trip to South Dakota, I was able to work with Goose and Duck Smackers Guide Service. The owners, Brian Cahalan and Josh Lett, start their season in Arkansas in early February and move north as the birds move. Although the cold and snow limited our access to juvenile birds, we still had a quality hunt.
I am already working out plans to make the trip again next year. This time, I am hoping the weather cooperates a little bit more and we can work on some of the juvenile birds along with the adults.
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