Waterfowl hunters don’t have to call it quits at the end of January. The Arctic Tundra Habitat Emergency Conservation Act—more commonly known as the Conservation Order light goose season—was passed in 1999. For many, snow goose hunting is at its best during the month of March. We can help save the tundra while enjoying no bag limits, extended shooting times, unplugged guns, and electronic callers. It’s no cakewalk, though. Snow geese are hunted 10 months a year, giving older birds a serious education. To put up big numbers, you’ll need to spend time scouting and set plenty of decoys. This list of extra gear might help you cash in on the springtime action and put a few more geese on the strap, too.
White Rock Decoys
Setting decoys around layout blinds highlights them to geese passing overhead. These rectangles indicate no-fly zones to geese that are pressured nearly year round. To get rid of those telltale boxes, I break up the forms with Blind Door Decoys. White Rock’s second-generation models have a dual-pivoting system that allows you position the decoy at the same height and attitude as those surrounding your hide, letting you disappear into the spread.
I used to hear geese before everyone else in my hunting party. Years of gunshots have changed that, and increased the amount of “huhs” I utter in the course of normal conversation. To prevent that, and keep the e-caller from rattling your brain, wear hearing protection. These from SureFire fit flush so they won’t mess with the cheek weld on your gun, and they’re comfortable enough to wear all day.
Many hunters skip the layout blinds in favor of wearing white Tyvek suits, which allow you to hide right amongst the decoys. In the past, I’ve tried to balance my gun on a shell decoy while doing this—but of course it usually ends up action-down in the mud. This rest keeps your gun shiny side-up and ready to go at your fingertips when the vortex touches down.
Most of the time, I believe that if you’re not killing birds cleanly, you should adjust your hide and let them get closer. Snow geese are the exception to this. You take whatever ethical shot you are offered, and keep shooting until the tube is empty. Hevi-Shot’s new Hevi-X Shotshells are tungsten-based for more lead-like performance to reach out a little further on these wary birds. You can get a 1 ¼-ounce load of No. 2s pushed at 1,450 fps to crush snows at a distance.
I’ve relied on FoxPro’s electronic calls to target furbearers and crows for years. The intuitive design of their remotes allows you to select the exact sound you are looking for, even in the dark. FoxPro has taken their years of experience and put together a package for snow goose hunters, complete with 37 tracks (add your own via USB), two external speakers, and the obligatory easy-to-hide white finish. Lithium-ion technology ensures long life without the weight of traditional lead-acid batteries.
High volume shoots mean high volume processing sessions. I’ve always preferred a skeletonized knife for their simplicity and ease of cleaning. Benchmade has taken this concept to the next level with top-of-the-line CPMS90V steel. A pair of carbon-fiber-and-G10 bolsters add grip without providing hiding places for fat and tissue to linger.
A couple of my friends were crazy enough to rent a parabolic microphone and crawl within earshot of flocks of greater snow geese to create a sound track that East Coast snows couldn’t resist when the Conservation Order was in its infancy. You’re likely not as lucky, so the folks at Juvie Jukebox did the heavy lifting for you. The track features the deep tone that differentiates greater from lesser snow geese, and is available as a digital download or on a variety of media to work with your existing calling system.
March brings unpredictable weather, with temps sometimes shifting from below freezing to the upper 50s in the course of a day. Staying comfortable means dressing in layers, and a hoody is a go-to garment. Sitka brings 21st century technology to this classic with their Gradient Hoody. Treated with a water-repellant finish, it functions as a shell as long as the rain isn’t too heavy. Synthetic material means sweat evaporates quickly to fight the funk that develops after a week of hard hunting.
The Cremator Snow Goose choke provides a tight pattern and is made from 17-4 stainless steel, so it’ll handle steel shot of any size or speed. Choose the long-range model to kill birds cleanly as they try to make their getaway. A white Cerakote finish makes it a standout.
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If the height of a field’s stubble permits, you’ll find me hiding in the most comfortable layout blind I can find. The unique lounge chair-like design of the Alpz Outdoors Zero-Gravity Layout Blind suspends you in comfort, and helps you pop up when the shot is called. Plus, the floor-free design means mud stays in the field rather than in your trailer.