By John Pollman
The sound of snow geese migrating south is, for some, the quintessential sound of fall, but for many hunters light geese have become a spring-only target. You don't have to wait until March to target snow geese, and the following tips from a pair of snow goose gurus will show you how.
Shortly after snow geese leave their breeding grounds in the tundra, many of them head south for the grain fields of north-central Saskatchewan. And nearly every fall, Ben Burgess is in a decoy spread waiting for them to arrive. The South Dakota hunter and member of the Avery Pro-Staff also hunts snow geese as they travel north in the spring, but says that there are a pair of big differences between the two times of the year.
"When you've had a summer with a good hatch of birds, you're hunting a lot of geese that have never even seen a decoy spread before," says Burgess. "The education aspect that is definitely a factor in the spring doesn't come in to play so much in the fall."
The other main difference, Burgess says, is that snow geese in the fall are often in a roost-to-field pattern, much like Canada geese, and will feed in the same field morning and night for multiple days.
"Birds that are habituated to coming to a specific field seem to leave the roost in smaller bunches," says Burgess. "The flocks will string out over the morning flight, which makes for better opportunities for the hunters, and also removes the challenges of trying to decoy a giant flock of birds, which is something quite common in the spring."
That's not to say that Burgess doesn't see big congregations of snows in the fall. At times, Burgess and his crew of hunting buddies will target a feed that has over 100,000 birds in a field, and because of the number of birds that the group might see in a morning, they will use a 700-800 full bodied snow goose decoys.