The six hundred mile drive to Kansas for our annual spring snow goose hunt was uneventful. Long time hunting partner, Roger Lydeen and I reminisced about past hunts, watched for migrating geese out the truck windows and speculated about what this year’s hunt would bring.

The one fact we were certain of was being able to witness the incredible spectacle of thousands of migrating snow geese. How many of them would fall victim to our spread is always the guessing game in spring snow goose hunting.

Jerry Carlson 9439: Snow goose hunting is a labor intensive activity requiring big spreads.
Jerry Carlson
9439: Snow goose hunting is a labor intensive activity requiring big spreads.

I have been an avid waterfowl hunter for more than 50 years and have participated in the spring snow goose hunt annually since the first days of the Conservation Order. The one fact I have learned again and again is that snow goose hunting is an ever evolving sport that takes extensive planning and careful execution.

Because snow geese are hunted so vigorously by waterfowl junkies, they have gotten extremely savvy about the dangers of goose spreads. They may just be birds, but they are not bird brains.

The first major change in our tactics has to do with concealment. In my opinion, concealment is probably the single most important factor in successful decoy shooting.

Geese have incredible vision and look at our spreads through binocular powered eyes. They truly see all evils associated with hunter concealment.

We don’t even pack layout blinds anymore as we have moved to ghillie suits and whites for concealment options. The geometric outline of layout blinds is too often detected by high flying birds that are looking straight down into your spread.

Whenever possible, we try to utilize some of the natural cover that is available. A ditch or dirty fencerow can work wonders in helping break up the profile of hunters. Ghillie suits are ideal in these situations.

Jerry Carlson 9464: Most geese to not decoy well, but then, some do!
Jerry Carlson
9464: Most geese to not decoy well, but then, some do!

When cover is not accessible, whites seem to be the best option. However, get a black light to make sure your white camo is not glowing with UV brighteners. Sprays can be applied to help soften the stark UV brightness that is often associated with untreated white camo.

Another factor in outsmarting wary geese is the need for movement in the spread. Wind socks certainly add movement when there is a breeze. Rotaries and Clone decoys are also very beneficial and can add that movement even when the wind refuses to blow.

Decoying birds will definitely set up on the movement of rotaries and Clones so hunters need to be placed accordingly. However, it is imperative that hunters are mobile and can easily pick up and move to where geese are setting up if an unusual approach pattern is displayed by the birds. This impromptu adjustment is easy to do when hunting in ghillie suits or whites.

One last thought is to keep the decoys spread apart. We have learned the hard way that aggressively feeing birds like their space and do not stack up on top of each other. Decoys that are too tightly bunched will flare birds.

Snow goose hunting is a challenge with some days more challenging than others. However, it is also a thrill that I never tire of. Watching the migration and having birds work the spread is always worth the effort and long drive.

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