Tag Archives: snow goose hunting

The Spring Goose Season: Snows in the mud

The winter wheat field we were hunting in was frozen concrete-hard in the morning,  and full of soft ankle deep mud and ice-free sheet water ponds by mid-day. Migrating swans, Canada geese, mallards, and pintails filled the skies, not to mention the snow geese. The season is over for us already here, as quickly as it started.  I can’t wait to do it all over again next year!

snow goose decoy spread

Sheet water snow goose spread.

snow goose hunter

Ankle deep mud in the winter wheat.

Hunter retrieving a snow goose

Greg retrieves a goose from the muddy winter wheat.

USFW Service recommends liberal season and limits for 2012 waterfowl season

Flock of snow geese

A record number of snow geese are expected again this fall.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed their guidelines for the upcoming waterfowl season, and the proposal is promising for waterfowlers. The following is their press release:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced proposed hunting
season lengths and bag limits for the upcoming 2012-13 late waterfowl
seasons. The proposed federal frameworks include duck hunting season
lengths of 60 days in both the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, 74
days in the Central Flyway (with an additional 23 days in the High
Plains areas), and 107 days in the Pacific Flyway. The proposed
frameworks also include a full season on pintails with a two bird
daily bag limit nationwide, and a full season on canvasbacks with a
one bird daily bag limit nationwide. The proposed late season
waterfowl frameworks will appear in a mid-August edition of the
Federal Register for public comment.

States select their individual seasons from within the federal
frameworks that establish the earliest beginning and latest ending
dates and the maximum season length and bag limits. Flyway-specific
highlights of the proposed late-season frameworks are as follows:

Atlantic Flyway (Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine,
Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North
Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont,
Virginia, and West Virginia):
• Ducks: A hunting season is proposed of not more than 60 days
between September 22, 2012, and January 27, 2013. The proposed daily
bag limit is 6 and may include no more than 4 mallards (2 hens), 4
scoters, 3 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 2 hooded mergansers, 4 scaup, 1
black duck, 2 pintails, 1 canvasback, 1 mottled duck, and 1 fulvous
whistling duck.
• Geese: For light geese, states will be able to select a 107-day
season between October 1, 2012, and March 10, 2013, with a daily bag
limit of 25 birds and no possession limit. Seasons for Canada geese
would vary in length among states and areas depending on the
populations of birds that occur in those areas. The daily bag limit
will be 5 birds in hunt zones established for resident populations of
Canada geese. In hunt zones established for migratory populations,
bag limits will be 5 or fewer and vary among states and areas. For
Atlantic brant, the season length may be 50 days with a daily bag
limit of 2.

Mississippi Flyway (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri,
Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin):
• Ducks: A hunting season is proposed of not more than 60 days
between September 22, 2012, and January 27, 2013. The proposed daily
bag limit is 6 and may include no more than 4 mallards (2 hens), 3
wood ducks, 1 mottled duck, 2 redheads, 4 scaup, 2 pintails,
1 black duck, and 1 canvasback. The proposed daily bag limit of
mergansers is 5, only 2 of which may be hooded mergansers. In states
that include mergansers in the duck bag limit, the daily limit is the
same as the duck bag limit, only 2 which may be hooded mergansers.
• Geese: Generally, seasons for Canada goose would be held between
September 22, 2012, and January 31, 2013, and vary in length among
states and areas. States would be able to select seasons for light
geese not to exceed 107 days with 20 geese daily between September
22, 2012, and March 10, 2013; for white-fronted geese the proposed
season would not exceed 74 days with a 2-bird daily bag limit or 88
days with a 1-bird daily bag limit between September 22, 2012, and
February 17, 2013; and for brant it would not exceed 70 days with a
2-bird daily bag limit or 107 days with a 1 bird daily bag limit
between September 22, 2012, and January 31, 2012. There is no
possession limit for light geese.

Central Flyway (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South
Dakota, Texas, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and
• Ducks: Duck season frameworks are between September 22, 2012 and
January 27, 2013. The daily bag limit would be 6 ducks, with species
and sex restrictions as follows: 5 mallard, no more than 2 of which
may be females; 3 wood duck, 2 pintail, and 2 redhead, 1 mottled duck
and 1 canvasback. Mottled ducks may not be harvested during the first
5 days after the beginning of the regular season in Texas. The
possession limit would be 2 times the daily bag limit. In the High
Plains Mallard Management Unit (roughly west of the 100th Meridian),
a 97 day season is proposed, and the last 23 days can start no
earlier than December 8, 2012. A 74 day season is proposed for the
remainder of the Central Flyway.
• Geese: States may select seasons between September 22, 2012 and
February 17, 2013 for dark geese and between September 22, 2012, and
March 10, 2013, for light geese. East-tier states would be able to
select a 107 day season for Canada geese with a daily bag limit of 3.
For white-fronted geese, east-tier states would be able to select
either a 74 day season with a daily bag limit of 2 birds or an 88 day
season with a daily bag limit of 1 bird. In the West-tier, states may
select a 107 day dark goose season with a daily bag limit of 5 birds.
In the Western Goose zone of Texas, the state would be able to select
a 95 day season with a daily bag limit of 5 dark geese (including no
more than 1 white-fronted goose). For light geese, all states would
be able to select a 107-day season with a daily bag limit of 20 and
no possession limit.

Pacific Flyway (Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah,
Washington, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and
• Ducks: States are allowed a 107-day general duck season between
September 22, 2012, and January 27, 2013. The proposed daily bag
limit is 7 ducks, including no more than 2 mallard hens, 2 redheads,
2 pintails and 1 canvasback.
• Geese: 107-day seasons are proposed for the Pacific Flyway between
September 29, 2012, and March 10, 2013. Proposed basic daily bag
limits are up to 10 light geese and 6 dark geese. There are many
exceptions to the basic bag limits and season structures for geese in
many states, so consult State regulations for specific details. In
California, Washington and Oregon, the dark goose limit does not
include brant. For brant, the proposed season lengths are 16 days in
Oregon and Washington and 30 days in California, with a 2-bird daily
limit. Washington and California are able to choose seasons in each
of the two zones described in state regulations.

The Service’s 2012 Waterfowl Population Status Report summarizes
information on the status of duck and goose populations and habitat
conditions during spring of 2012. In the traditional survey area,
which includes the north-central United States, south-central and
northern Canada and Alaska, the 2012 total duck population estimate
was 48.6 million birds, an increase of 7 percent over last year’s
estimate. Despite poorer habitat conditions compared to 2011,
population abundance estimates are good for this breeding season. The
total pond estimate for prairie Canada and the US combined was 5.5
million, which is down 32 percent from last year.

The annual survey results guide the Service’s waterfowl conservation
programs under authority of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Each
year the Service works in partnership with states from the four
flyways to establish regulatory frameworks for waterfowl hunting
season lengths, dates, and bag limits. All of this information
represents the largest data set on any wildlife species group in the
world and helps provide hunting opportunities while ensuring the
long-term health of waterfowl populations.

The Status of Waterfowl report can be found at
http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/. To view a video of the Status of
Waterfowl video visit:


I was sitting right here tomorrow morning!

snow goose spread

A small spring snow goose spread- this is only 500 decoys.

Reflection of a snow goose hunt

Billy looks out over the Softshell snow goose spread on a recent spring hunt.

snow goose hunter

Looking out over the horizon for the next flock of snows.

Swans in the snow goose decoys

The swans were out and about last weekend making their way north. Some of them decided to swing in for a close look, which is always awesome. 


California Goose Hunt, 2012

Another great hunt for Dave Jenigan and his group in California with Garcia’s Hunting preserves this past February.

From Dave, “11 man limit of 88 geese. Slightly overcast skies and no wind again, but
moved the spread around a bit and as you can see, the decoys did their
job. Had 100′s of geese feeding in the decoys waiting for the shot to be

Speckle belly and snow goose hunt

Speckle belly and snow goose hunt in California

Waterfowling wisdom, or something like that

Over the years my hunting partners and I have accumulated bits of wisdom collectively as waterfowlers (yes, I speak for my partners on this one). Some of these are the result of mistakes we’ve made ,which is about half the time we’re in the field, others are just observations of the birds we pursue. Many of the observations are about ourselves and the things we like to do.These are just a few of ours, I’m sure you and your hunting partners have plenty of your own.

We know…

  • …when you are hunting, pay attention if your dog suddenly looks one direction.

    Labrador retriever

    Sugar spotting a flock for us.

  • …to get up and make adjustments to the spread and blind positions as soon as the wind changes direction because ducks and geese land into the wind.
  • …layout blinds were not designed by a chiropractor.
  • …ducks and geese will come into the decoys when you stand up to go to the bathroom, go to the car, take a walk, etc.
  • …Canadian beer is tasty, that’s why we drink so much of it.
  • …when it gets arctic cold, look for high energy food sources like corn; the birds sure do!
  • …for whatever reason, ducks and geese don’t see black dogs lying in the spread when you are field hunting.
  • …ducks love to eat feed corn out of fresh cow shit (known as a “hot lunch”).
  • …ducks and geese love peas.


    Primo duck and goose feed- peas.

  • …we’re all shooting behind them when we miss, don’t remind us!
  • …ducks and geese feeding in a plowed or disced field have been pressured hard- look for another field or hunt to pursue no matter how good it looks.
  • …birds that are comfortable and very huntable in a field are usually spread out all over it- they just have that contented look.
  • …even if we haven’t seen many birds during our hunt, they’ll appear as soon as we start to pick up the decoys.
  • …a goose flag is almost as valuable as a goose call.
  • …it takes twice as long to stuff a layout blind than you think it should.
  • … if  you are right handed, you can’t swing to the right in a layout or coffin blind, the opposite is true for lefties.
  • …we should shoot at the 10 snows that drop in below the 300 decoying birds, it’s just hard to call it!

    snow goose flock

    We've learned to shoot at the snow geese that drop in below the main flock

  • …you can’t go wrong eating in small town cafes when you’re taking a lunch break.
  • …the colder it gets, the later the Canada’s sleep in.
  • heavy wind forces the birds to approach your decoy spread lower; sometimes so low they have to go up to get over the fence at the other end of the field.
  • …the internet has changed waterfowling forever, unfortunately not always for the better.
  • …there are a lot of dogs named “GOD DAMN IT!” out there.
  • …everyone thinks they own the best retriever, but I really do. Have I told you what mine did on the last hunt?
  • …our kids will fall into the water and get wet every time we hunt with them, it’s just the way it is.

We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we’re willing to go out there to find out what we don’t know. I guess we’re learning all the time, which makes waterfowling such a great chase. Fortunately the spring hunt is just around the corner, I’ve got a whole bunch of new things I’m ready to mess up and learn about! Did you learn anything new or interesting this year?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.