The sights — and sounds — of the spring light goose season

It’s been a decade since I hunted for snow geese, but I remember the experience like it was yesterday. Truth be told, it was the first time I hunted snow geese, and probably the last time, too, because it was just so dang much work.

I’d gone out to North Dakota to do a story with some guys who had a real serious addiction to snow goose hunting. I wanted the whole experience, so I drove five hours from home and met them at a hotel in LaMoure. I checked in, then climbed in one of the guys’ trucks and spent the next five hours driving down gravel roads and watching huge flocks of geese fly overhead.

As afternoon turned to evening, we watched thousands of birds flying to and from small water bodies. I’d seen photos of big flocks of snow geese, but that was my first time seeing them up close. The sight of that many birds flying in a group is something to behold, but the sound they make is something else altogether.

At some point, we decided where we’d hunt the next morning. (My input into the whole thing was nothing more than a nod of the head, followed by, “Sounds good to me.”)

It was sometime around dark when we got back to the hotel, where we changed quickly and then went to a nearby bar and restaurant. As a bunch of 20- and 30-somethings are wont to do, a quick dinner turned into a night at the bar. It was after midnight by the time we returned to the hotel, and the only thing I could think about was that I had two hours of sleep ahead of me – three if I was lucky.

By the time shooting hours rolled around, we’d already been in the field several hours, having set up hundreds – maybe thousands – of decoys. Then we got the electronic caller going, and finally climbed into our field blinds. It felt good to lie down.

It wasn’t long before the first snow geese showed up. I truly don’t recall how many shots we fired or how many birds we killed. All I recall is these huge, stunning flocks of birds, and how their cacophony of calls rang in my ears for days after the hunt.

The snow goose hunting bug didn’t bite me then and hasn’t since, but in my mind, seeing and hearing a migrating flock of snow geese is something every hunter should experience.

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