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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Step-by-Step Snow Goose Hunting

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It’s All in the Timing

It isn’t long after the first warm winds sweep across the plains that hunters begin to see the long lines of snow geese winging their way north toward the summer breeding grounds around the Hudson and James Bays.  While a hunter might jump at the first sight of light geese in the area, Fujan suggests that the best thing to do might be to wait.  “The front end of the migration consists mainly of adult birds,” Fujan says, “and anyone that has chased these birds knows that the adults are extremely difficult to hunt.”  Most hunters know that the snow geese that are 5-8 years old have seen it all; from decoy spreads to e-callers, the older birds possess years of experience that make them seemingly impossible to hunt.  “If I have the choice, I try to hunt the middle- or back-end of the migration,” Fujan adds.  “Younger birds are more susceptible to calling and decoys.  That is not to say that you cannot have success with older birds, but a snow goose that has traveled up and down the flyway several times is a tough bird to fool.”

The Wind of Change

While Fujan’s spring hunts take him from Missouri to South Dakota, his decoy set-up rarely changes.  “We’ve tried just about every spread that you can imagine,” Fujan says, “but the one that has consistently produced results is really nothing more than a big oval with a large landing area on the up-wind side of the spread.”  Landing snow geese are naturally drawn to the active side of a feeding flock, where birds are hopping in front of one another as they feed into the wind.  “We try and keep most of our spread out in front of us,” Fujan says.  “Many hunters will set up on the extreme down-wind side of their spread, and we have found that just the opposite works.  If you are too far down-wind, most birds will end up behind you, providing extremely difficult shots.”  He also adds that snow geese tend to work more vertically than Canada geese or even ducks.  “You might have snow geese that are 60-yards up and 30-yards out, and all of a sudden, that same flock will be feet-down 15-yards on top of you.  Don’t expect those birds to take an approach to your spread like a honker.  More often than not, they are down the elevator shaft and on you before you know it.”

As a member of the Avery Pro-staff, Ben Fujan hunts exclusively over Avery GHG full-body snow goose decoys, but he adds that rags and wind-socks are still effective on snows.  “Being mobile is one of the best tools a hunter can have, and rags and wind-socks afford you the luxury of being able to pick up and move with a minimal amount of hassle.”  If a hunter is using both full-body and wind-sock decoys in the same spread, Fujan suggests separating the two, keeping the more realistic full-bodies closer to the blinds for use around the landing area.  “You really want the last decoys that the birds are flying over to be the most realistic decoys that you have,” Fujan says.  “Full-bodies are also great at hiding e-callers and blinds, especially the blinds of the hunters using flags.”
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