Forgive yourself if you missed opening day of Minnesota’s spring snow goose hunt, er, “spring light goose conservation order.” It was March 1, but I can’t imagine there were many – any? – birds around, and probably few – if any – shotguns aimed at the sky.
Without question, Minnesota’s spring snow goose season is a relatively quiet affair. But that’s certainly not the case in North and South Dakota and points south, where there are a lot more light geese, and a lot more hunters who target them.
And while the spring season amounts to something of a free-for-all, and is intended to help manage light goose numbers (their populations remain so high they’re destroying their Arctic breeding grounds), it’s not exactly having the desired outcome. That’s likely because of hunters like me.
I’ve hunted for snow geese one time in my life. It was several years back, in North Dakota, in April. The guys with whom I hunted were absolute fanatics. And if there were more of them, light goose overpopulation wouldn’t be an issue. But there’s probably more hunters like me, not them.
I’d seen the photos of giant flocks of snow geese lifting off a field or wetland. I’d heard of having geese flying everywhere around you, and of going through multiple boxes of shells in a day. So I lined up the North Dakota trip.
When I arrived, we spent several hours scouting. Then we ate and went to bed. It seemed like I’d just put down my head when the alarm went off in the middle of the night. It was cold and the ground, for the most part, was frozen. It took two hours or more to stick hundreds of decoys in the ground. By the time the decoy spread was in place and the e-caller was set up, I was ready to call it a day. And we still had to wait an hour before we could shoot.
We shot some snow geese that day, and we had fun. But about 12 hours in the field scratched my snow goose itch. Maybe I’m not a hardcore waterfowlers. Maybe I’m lazy. Whatever it is, there’s lots of hunters who fall under the same category.