While Mike Bard spends some time guiding snow goose hunters in the Midwest, the Avery pro-staffer spends as much time as possible freelancing with friends for greater snow geese near his home in central New York.
The Atlantic Flyway has enjoyed a spring conservation season the past two years, and Bard says that is has given him and his friends a chance to spend more time together doing what they love.
"I feel very lucky with regard to the group of guys I chase snow geese with," says Bard. "We are all pretty dedicated to being successful, and everyone takes time off during the peak migration so we can take full advantage of the conservation season."
Besides being able to pool resources, Bard says that another benefit of hunting with a group of friends is the ability to divide up scouting responsibilities and, more importantly, making quality contacts with landowners.
"One thing that really cannot be overlooked is the relationship between landowner and hunter," says Bard. "There are a couple of guys in our crew that seem to have a knack for maintaining great relationships with the farmers, who have been so kind to let us hunt their property. This is probably one of the most important pieces of the puzzle."
After a week or so of hard hunting, Bard says it can be tough for a crew of freelancers to remember that 16-hour days filled with muddy gear and dogs should be fun. But when times get tough, Bard says his friends really only need to look to the sky.
"Just seeing the hundreds of thousands of snow geese migrating north is worth the price of admission," says Bard. "Every serious waterfowl hunter should try to experience this at least once."