We hunted snow geese today … and the geese won
Here in the southeast section of Pennsylvania the time has arrived to hunt snow geese that have been wintering in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.
The big white birds are starting to get quite anxious to return to their home breeding grounds in the arctic and sub arctic portions of North America, and this urge brings them through this corner of our state.
If you’ve never hunted snow geese it’s impossible to understand the highs and lows these gregarious fowl can deliver. Without question, waterfowl hunting professionals agree, the snow goose is the toughest bird to hunt and have steady success.
The small group I hunt with started the day meeting at 4 a.m. at the home of one member where all the decoys, kites, rags, rotary machines and electronic calling devices are stored in his huge garage (we have much invested in this pursuit).
Another member had spotted 5,000 snows feeding in a corn stubble field 20 miles from our homes the night before. By 4:45 a.m. we were sticking silo socks into the muddy ground of that same field, spreading full-bodied decoys in a tear-shaped pattern, and going through the process of fastening together everything that needed battery power to perform. By 6:45 a.m. we were climbing into our portable blinds.
Within a half hour the geese came, a flock of 1,000 at least. Snow geese always arrive high, but with the tape of feeding snows blaring from sky-pointing speakers, and kites and rags dancing in the late-winter wind, they started to descend. For me, at least, that hopeful, heart-pounding sight in itself made it worth being there.
Lower and lower they came, circling like no other waterfowl with their tight turns. They were almost in range, then for a reason only they understand, they turned in mass and departed. Not a shot was fired. All morning was like this. Flock after flock, descending, looking, leaving. Thousands and thousands of birds, not one shot fired.
I’ve seen the videos -- hundreds of snow geese close, hunters firing rapidly, birds falling everywhere. On a couple of occasions, through all the years we’ve hunted snows, we’ve known that experience, but it is oh so rare. Much like this morning, the geese usually win.
This species of waterfowl haunts me.