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Michael Clingan/Montana Outdoor Imagery


The spring light goose season provides hunters with the opportunity to match wits with snow geese and Ross’s geese as the birds fly northward on the heels of winter. These birds are smart and hard to decoy, and they will humble even the savviest waterfowl hunters. Here are five tips to help even the odds.

Location Is Key

As chaotic as the snow goose migration can be, with long strings of birds moving north at breakneck speed, there is some method to the madness that is the spring migration. Year after year, snow geese tend to follow historical migration corridors. Setting up a large spread of decoys within this traditional area of heavy bird traffic is the first step toward seeing a massive tornado of geese descend from the sky.

Refuges and large bodies of water are often popular stopping points for geese along these migration corridors, but be careful not to set up too close to a large concentration of real birds on the ground. A general rule of thumb is to stay at least five miles away. No number of decoys or e-callers can compete with the real thing.

Be Prepared

Spring snow goose hunters are no strangers to adversity. The cold, windy, and muddy conditions that tend to ac- company a day of hunting these birds can be extremely hard on hunters, dogs, and equipment. Be sure to pack extra batteries, spare parts for e-callers and motion decoys, and anything else that might break. It also helps to have a plan for your wet, muddy gear at the end of the day.


The use of e-callers during the spring season is a huge advantage for hunters. The most effective e-caller setups have speakers placed throughout the decoys to present a clear, realistic sound for birds passing overhead. When it comes to volume, more is not always better, and a big roar of sound, particularly on the downwind side of the spread, can sometimes spook a flock of geese setting up on the decoys. Be sure to watch the birds for their reaction to the sounds and keep the volume controls close at hand in case you need to make adjustments.

Dog Work

The bright white feathers of snow geese make a spring hunt the perfect time to work a retriever on long marks, and these hunts also provide great opportunities to work on handling skills. Occasionally, when the geese cooperate, a retriever may be able to make a typical season’s worth of retrieves over the course of just a few days.

Hunters with young or inexperienced retrievers should exercise caution when they are out in the field with a large number of other hunters, as the conditions can be overwhelming and might lead to bad habits that are hard to break.

Stay Out of Sight

Staying concealed from thousands of eyes in the sky is one of the biggest challenges to hunting light geese, especially when trying to hide several hunters in layout blinds. Setting up the blinds in a natural depression in the field or along a grassy field edge can help break up the outlines of the blinds. Sometimes it pays to ditch the blinds altogether and go old school, wearing white bibs and coats like earlier generations of hunters did before layout blinds were on the market. Sometimes the line between frustration and success can be just that simple, even with spring snows.