You use retrievers in the spring. How did you hide them? And how did you work with them?
Vandemore: We use Ground Force dog blinds. A lot of guys will put their dogs behind them. I like to have mine – the dog blind – slightly behind and touching my blind. My dog Ruff is pretty steady, but some dogs aren't. The way I have mine positioned, I can talk to him – easy… steady... – if I need to. Plus, he's tracking birds right down the gun barrel. It's a safety thing too. When you have three honkers come in, you shoot three times and everything's dead. But with 1,000 snows and a dog that breaks, the first shot goes off and he's 20 yards into the decoys, where everything's happening. It's not good. Plus, spring snow goose hunting is an incredible opportunity to get dog work in.
What makes you guys consistently successful on spring snows?
Vandemore: Scouting, and not doing anything halfway. We had to commit to long hours. NOTE: The boys averaged roughly three hours of sleep a night for 30 straight days. And meals? All were on the run.
What does one do with 2,030 snow geese once they're in the back of the truck?
Vandemore: We had people in place – needy families, church pantries, soup kitchens – to take the birds before we started hunting. Snow goose is by no means poor table fare; it's actually very good. With snows, you can pick out the (grey) juvenile birds a lot easier and concentrate on those. But I had folks lined up who would take just about every snow goose we could bring them.
Spotlight on gear
Spring snows and intensive scouting typically go hand in hand. That said, some of your best equipment should include a stocked gas card, quality binoculars and a copy of DeLorme Mapping's Missouri Atlas & Gazetteer.
Along with scouting, mobility is vital to spring success with the white geese. Lightweight blinds such as Avery Outdoors' Power Hunter are popular, as are combination spreads of Greenhead Gear's T & T 5/8 Shells, traditional half-shells and windsocks or Texas rags. Short of firearms and ammunition, Avery has everything you're going to need.