Michael Furtman.jpg

Michael Furtman

The 2024 Light Goose Conservation Order is finally starting to wind down as spring warmth settles into the northern plains, driving masses of midcontinent light geese northward toward their breeding grounds.

Over the past two months, light geese were stretched from the Canadian border to the Mississippi Delta. This may not be unusual, but huntable numbers of light geese did linger in the South longer than expected, while at the same time the leading edge of the migration pushed well into the Dakotas a lot earlier than normal.

“It was very typical of a warm spring with no snowline to speak of. The geese were off to the races early and very spread out,” says Tony Vandemore, co-owner of Habitat Flats in northwestern Missouri. “For us, this season was really consistent, with good hunting from the start of the season until the last ones left. We did not see big numbers over us every day, so we didn’t put together any really big days numbers-wise, but we had a ton of really good hunts.”

Like clockwork, spring snowstorms and frigid temperatures triggered impressive March reverse migrations, but very few geese ventured back into the southern reaches of the flyways, instead settling into midlatitude strongholds, where many hunters have reported fantastic hunts in recent weeks.

An opportunity many light goose hunters enjoyed this season was the number of juvenile snow geese that pushed north in early February along with leading-edge adult geese that are notoriously difficult to decoy. “The head of the migration was definitely heavy with juvenile birds. While this was a bit irregular, it explains why we had some of our bigger days during the first few weeks of the Conservation Order,” explains Matt Albers of Willow Creek Waterfowl in Illinois. “The late January cold snap pushed a lot of our birds out, but once things thawed out, we had some productive hunts towards the end of the regular season. A lot of those birds stuck around, and thankfully, with the migration so strung out, we had consistent hunting throughout the season.” 

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