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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Decoy Snows In Close

Field tests prove that mega-spreads of full-body decoys are deadly on hard-to-hunt snows and blues
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In all honesty, I am somewhat skeptical. Snow geese have tortured me with their merciless teasing in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and on at least a couple of occasions in Canada. And all these young guys are talking about are flocks of feet-down, flaps-down snows hanging over the decoys. Right. Oh, I know it happens, but the classic, edge-of-gun-range snows are much more familiar. Painfully familiar.

"Mark right," Keller says. "Turn on the e-callers. And make sure the cover is closed on your blind all the way."

And so I watch through the mesh blind cover as 400 or maybe 500 snows descend from the clouds, barking, looking. They obviously have no brakes. And no fear. For in minutes, they are hovering over the open hole, wings flapping, maneuvering toward what they think is the head of the on-the-ground feeding flock.

The afternoon quiet erupts with a six-gun barrage.

When the birds are collected, identities are checked. No youngsters here. All adults.

"That's the way it's been from when we started a couple of weeks ago in central Missouri," Vandemore says. "We're killing mature snow geese."

"The migration is really spread out this year," Keller says. "Usually you get a two- or three-week push. But this year the birds are spread out from South Dakota all the way down to Arkansas."

Not too spread out. Flock number two is closing fast. A half-mile away. A quarter-mile. The swarm arrives with a flourish. They make a couple of tight loops but display no hesitation. Here we go again. Birds are in our faces.

"I told you that this might be different from what you're used to," Vandemore says before climbing out of his blind to help round up the downed birds.

No doubt about that. No less than five flocks find this mega-spread enticing enough to visit. All are committed to land. We quit before dark. The day's kill totals 141 birds, and 70 percent of them are adults. Many of these geese are headed to a church food pantry, with others bound for the freezer of a needy family an hour's drive south.

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