The light Geese, Snows, Blues and Ross are some of the toughest geese in the world to decoy and call.
Because their population exceeds over 5 million birds and they have virtually destroyed the tundra, where they live, with the population of the Light geese the highest ever recorded.
Because of this, a Conservation Order, an annual special season is set up for a spring hunt to control the overabundance of light geese.
Light geese generally migrate into the eastern one-third of South Dakota and on through the Rainwater Basin and Platte River regions in the central part of Nebraska, with eastern Nebraska and the Missouri River corridor, the best locations to find light geese in late February to early March.
The Spring Light Goose Conservation and Management order in South Dakota is open throughout the state from Feb. 18 through May 25, while in Nebraska with its split season has zones that close on a different day. The East zone opens Feb. 11 through April 15 while the Rainwater Basin and the West zones open up on the same dates as the East, close earlier on April 5.
The rules and regulations during the Spring Light Goose Conservation order season are liberal, with hunters allowed to use tapes of migratory birdcalls or sounds, or electronically amplified imitations of birdcalls, can hunt with unplugged shotguns, with no daily or possession limit with shooting hours extended to a half-hour past sunset.
Light Geese, like all waterfowl migrate, traveling up to 5,000 miles each year making the long trip back north to the arctic tundra to nest.
Because they are so leery, they can grow to a ripe old age with banded birds as old as 20 years taken.
Flying in huge flocks, the tremendous number of birds in these flocks has thousands of eyes watching the ground looking for anything that seems out of place.
The toughest birds to decoy are those in the early flights north as they are older, mature birds, heading north to claim the best nesting areas.
These mature birds can be tough to call, but because of the long distances they migrate, need to make stops to rest and feed after their long flight.
When it comes to hunting the spring light goose season, it all boils down to location, location, location!
Being in the right place, at the right time, with a decent spread and a good calling, chances are that you will have the opportunity to pull a few birds out of the flock.
Once you pull a few birds from the flock, other higher birds tend to maple leaf, tucking their wing swirling downward from high above, joining those decoying geese.
Calling is very important as Snow geese make a lot of racket with thousands of geese continually calling. Because of this, a hunters using a mouth call to get their attention waste their time, with the amplified electronic callers, giving the hunter a way to be heard above all the hundreds and even thousands of very vocal geese in the flock.
Because snow geese migrate in huge flocks, very seldom do you see just a few birds in the air, as it can be thousands of birds flying, resting and feeding on the ground at one time, the larger the spread the better
It doesn’t take anything fancy, just a lot of white on the ground to get the birds attention, hunters in Texas learned years ago that a couple of dozen of decoys and a bunch of white rags or sacks will do the trick.
When we are decoying Snow geese, we like to have a few more decoys than they use as well as several to create motion in our decoys.
Snow goose hunter like large spreads and it is nothing for them to put out over a hundred full body decoys as well as several other decoy variations to add realism to the spread.
Windsocks work well when there is some breeze with the body filling with air and moving from side to side.
With a breeze, winds from ten to thirty miles per hour, we put up several REEL WINGS, constructed of foam with white tipped wings flying above our spread, they flutter, moving from side to side imitating the geese as they hover or about to land, adding realistic movement to the spread.
I have also hunted with guides that use the battery powered MO-JO or LUCKY DUCK decoys with flapping wings that simulates a bird about to land
Hunters using electronic amplified callers, along with a spread of dozens Snow goose decoys and a few motion decoys, making the hunters decoy spread visible and heard by these huge flocks of high migrating geese.
It’s quite a thrill to see flock after flock of thousands of light geese overhead and when you get their attention, as snow geese begin to maple leaf, pulling in their wings, falling from high above, then opening up their wings as the drop closer and closer, making their approach to your decoys.
Do not feel bad if they need to make several passes, some higher and some lower as they look over the decoys.
When the time comes as they set their wings in front of you on their final approach, it may be hard for you to remain calm. You will need to take several deep breaths and when you hear someone yell “Take EM”, come up quickly, take a bead on one of the dozens or more geese in front of you.
The startled geese will be grabbing wind, back peddling, trying to gain altitude, and winging their way out of danger.
What you see will be a vision etched in your mind one that you will remember forever, and by being out in the Conservation season, the birds you take will help to decrease these light goose numbers.
Those birds that overpopulated, their huge population r destroying much of the tundra habitat, which become salt marshes, not only making it tough for all wildlife that call this desolate area, the Tundra home.
Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska, is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide. Howey is an award winning writer, producer, and broadcaster and inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017. He is the Producer-Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series and Outdoor Adventures radio. For more outdoor information, check out garyhoweysoutdoors.com, like Gary Howey’s Facebook or watch his shows on www.MyOutdoorTV.com.