Guess who showed up for hunters in Pennsylvania – Mr. Snow Goose!
This past Wednesday a change occurred in the southeastern part of the state – a welcome change.
When running an errand to the local grocery store I happened to look at a far hillside and saw the unmistakable sight of circling white birds that were visible at a good distance against the dark of the mountain.
Snow geese were here.
When I left the store I headed in the direction I saw them. Sure enough, in a field where recent rain had left a huge puddle (lake proportions actually) of water on top of the frozen snow and ice, sat about 500 white wild fowl.
I called friends that afternoon to tell them the birds had arrived, and plan a possible hunt.
This winter has been extremely rough, and there were few open fields in the early part of last week, aside from the ones with spread manure, that offered the birds barren ground on which to feed. But with the rain, and warming trend the next few days provided, large catches of water were everywhere where the runoffs gathered, which seemed attractive to the birds.
This fact allowed for a hunting style our group has never experienced, huge pools of water in low-lying field sections where we could spread floating decoys in an attempt to lure the birds.
By Thursday daybreak there were thousands of snow geese in the area. We hunted that morning – the first day we could gather together – by picking a big spot of water that was near a fence line of trees and brush. We spread three dozen floaters on the water, two dozen shells near the edges, hooked up a little tape player, and waited.
A flock of maybe 200 came. They circled and circled, and finally four landed, but we held our shooting, waiting to get a bunch down for a big kill. It never happened, and as the four began to leave with the departing big bunch, we luckily dropped two. We decided at that point to shoot at any that came close enough to cleanly kill, and not wait for a “colossal” score.
We ended that morning with 11. Friday was better as we called it a day with 23 down. Saturday’s count was a dozen. That was excellent considering that we did not have to work too hard – beyond dragging decoy bags over slushy snow – displaying hundreds of fakes, and we still had much better action than usual.
This late frozen snow that held big water puddles may not happen again for who knows how long, years perhaps. But it sure was a neat condition late last week. It should also last a couple additional days into next week. But as they always do, the birds will migrate past here quickly now, and the action will be gone, another season leaving with the white geese.
There are, however, a dozen breasts of these majestic birds that were harvested, soaking in a brine solution in my fridge, which I will smoke out back. That finished meat will fool anyone into believing it to be dried beef.
As for myself, three or four thinly sliced morsels of a smoked snow goose breast, dipped in a good spicy mustard, and accompanied by a bit of gruyere cheese, will delightfully remind me of a special few days.