By Brian Tucker
For any hardcore waterfowler, a snow goose hunt in the spring is one of the ultimate bucket list hunts and I am lucky enough to have crossed this one off the list for a second time at the end of February.
The trip had been in the works for a few months for three of my hunting buddies and myself. Since this was our second hunt for snow geese, we had an idea of what to expect.
This year we would be hunting in Northwestern Missouri and not Eastern South Dakota, like our previous hunt. This meant new scenery and a new adventure for the four of us. As the time neared to leave for the trip, final preparations were made. “Do we have enough shells for the trip” was one of the biggest questions in our minds, as we were all hoping for epic days in the field with triple digit harvests. If you have ever been on a snow goose hunt you know that just one day like that is pretty rare, but we had high hopes. We were excited for what the days in the field were to bring. A unique part of snow goose hunting is there are no limits, as well as the ability to pull the plug, and add a magazine extension to your shotgun in most states. Some of us in the field had shotguns that would hold up to 11 rounds.
Two days of driving to break up the 13 hour trip, along with stops at Cabela’s and Scheel’s along the way for last minute items and we arrived in Mound City, Missouri. What we discovered when we arrived was something totally unexpected. To many, Mound City would be considered a “Mecca” for waterfowl and rightfully so. The Squaw Creek Refuge is a migration stop for birds on their way back north after a winter spent down south. Upon arriving we decided to go take a look at the refuge and what we saw was somewhere near half a million snow geese. Some of the ponds on the wetlands were so covered with birds that you couldn’t even see the water. Add this into our already over enthusiastic hope of a successful hunt and we couldn’t wait for the 4:45 am alarm to meet up with our guide and head to the field.
We met our guide that next morning at the local McDonalds and headed out to a stubble corn field about five miles from town. Since we did not have enough people in just our group to have our own field we were paired with another group of hunters from Ohio who shared the same passion for hunting as we do. As the sun started to come up and we were laying in our layout blinds the guide turned on the electronic call and the sounds of hundreds of snow geese began to play and continued for most of the day. Pair the sounds of the call to the couple thousand decoys on the ground and several spinners in the air and the decoy spread was something to behold. These set ups have to be massive in size to draw the attention of the large flocks of the “white devil” (commonly referred to by hunters) to your field. Guns were loaded and we settled in for the day.
Our high hopes of epic numbers were not to be on this trip, we harvested a total of 50 birds in the three days we hunted. Due to the birds roosting at the refuge, a majority of them would simply pass by our field on their way to feed up to 30 miles away, even into Iowa. Some flocks and single birds however did come into the decoy spreads in our fields, which lead to what would be an average number of birds harvested the first two days of the hunt. The third day was much slower due to weather being a major influence that played into the activity of birds and how well they decoyed. With overcast skies the bird’s paid little interest to our field with almost 3,000 decoys in it. But the measure of success in hunting isn’t the overall number of birds harvested. It is the memories made with those you spent time in the field with.
With those memories made it was time to head home. Like all good hunts this one fueled our fires for more and on the drive home we started the planning process for the next hunt and what to do with the geese we had in our coolers in the back of the truck; lots of jerky and fajitas. One thing we always remember is if we are going to harvest it, we are going to eat it.
This hunt is becoming an every two year thing for us and we cannot wait for the next one, this time in Arkansas, 2019.
Stay tuned for the full Wingmen Episode coming on our YouTube channel telling the tale of a spring snow goose hunt in Canada!