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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

Brain Cahalan's dog, Grace, loved to pose for photos.

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

Although the temps were cold and the wind was strong, we managed to get birds every day.

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.

Josh Lett, from Goose and Duck Smackers, is all smiles as he holds some of the days harvest.

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.

April 1, 2011 Posted by | Hunting | Leave a comment

South Dakota Snow Geese Photos

Flocks of snow geese were constantly moving around in an effort to find food and to push the snow line to the north.

Even though the Conservation Order has been in effect for some time, the snow goose population continues to grow and thrive. Adult snow geese live a long time, as much as 30 years,  and have a remarkable memory. Working adult geese is always tricky.

Part of the thrill of hunting spring geese is being able to watch the migration. It is a humbling experience to visually see nature at work on such a grand scale. We saw several kinds of geese and nine species of ducks.

The crew from Barrels Up internet shopping service kneel with their morning's harvest. (

Rotaries added movement that attracted shy birds.

Just a "small" flock of birds working a distant field.

It takes a lot of decoys and well hidden blinds to bring birds in close.

Brian Corrigan was enjoying his first snow goose hunt.

Brian Cahalan from Goose and Duck Smackers Guide Service.

April 1, 2011 Posted by | Hunting, photos | Leave a comment