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Snow geese by the thousands… maybe millions… awaited us in Arkansas. So many snow geese that a special “conservation order” season has been set in an attempt to control their numbers.
No license required, just a number from the state of Arkansas. No plug in your gun to allow only a certain number of shells. Matter of fact, you can use a “tube extension” to allow the use of not three, but up to 10 total shells.
And the biggest kicker: No limit on the number of birds you can take!
That’s what awaited Terry Davis, Billy Thompson, Ryan Mattingly, Gary Wilkerson, Mike (who’s last name I can’t recall), Steve Roberts and I on our Arkansas snow geese hunt. Course we couldn’t all leave at once due to work schedules, but we all ended up just outside Cash, Ark., population 346, late Friday evening.
The ambiance, like that word, of the lodge we stayed in reflected the areas rich history of basic waterfowling. Nothing fancy, just totally adequate. Warm, dry place to sleep, kitchen, showers and a common room to hang out in. And, oh yeah, indoor facilities!
During our three days at the lodge we met hunters from Minnesota, Georgia, Texas, the Dakotas, Alabama and another group from Kentucky.
In our section, 30-some miles from Jonesboro, we hunted harvested rice fields.
Picture fields, each several hundred acres in size and flat as a table top. The fields are separated by levees and ditches, which allow the fields to hold water and drain fields as needed. (The fields have a very slight pitch, which allows for drainage, but ya can’t see it!)
The strategy is to locate a field that the highly mobile snows are feeding in, let them leave for the day, then set up to hunt that field the next day.
Hunting snows requires the use of 800 to 1,500 decoys and electronic callers. The decoys consist of shells, full bodies, wind socks and vortex machines.
Full bodies look like real geese, only formed of plastic. The shells, also plastic, look like real geese sitting on the ground while windsocks look like, well, socks on a stick. The vortex machine is a motor driven contraption that has arms coming out at a 45-degree angle to which flyers are attached. These “flyers” are cut from corrugated plastic in a goose silhouette pattern with fabric “wings” attached. When attached to the fiberglass arms of the vortex machine, and the machine turned on, the arms, with goose “flyers” attached, makes it look like geese flying in the decoy spread. You can also mount other “flyers” on long fiberglass poles.
When you get a wind (the wind always seems to be blowing) the “flyers” flap around and the wind socks fill and move. Turn on the vortex machines and you have a lot of movement!
Amongst all the decoys is placed a line of heavily camoed layout blinds - usually around eight or so. A layout blind looks sorta like a skinny, low profile, camoed coffin with flip open doors. The blinds are made with camo cloth covering a metal frame. Ours were further camoed with bundles of rice straw, so we almost disappeared.
The theory is to lay in the blind, close the doors covering your upper body and wait for the birds to work (come to the decoys). You watch the birds from a small opening in the doors and when they’re close enough for a shot the guide calls out and everybody slings open the doors, sit up, pick a bird and shoot and shoot and shoot!
Understandably, with eight people all shooting at once, into a mob of possibly 30,000 to 60,000 or more snow geese, how do you know who shot what?
Well, you really don’t!
We hunted for three days and there’s no way to cover it in one article. So, I’ll finish my story next week.
I’ve been requested by our Marion County Heritage Council to ask if you’d lend your mounts for public display. They want examples of Marion County wildlife and fish, deer, turkey, coyotes, bass, etc., to put on public display at the museum (old courthouse). Your mounts will be displayed where they won’t be handled by the public. This would seem to be a good way for a taxidermist to display their art to the public.
Now understand, they don’t need 32 deer. But anything unique will be considered.
If you have something you’d consider loaning for display, please contact Mary Kay Clements at (270) 699-9455 or cell number (270) 692-7276.
That’s all for now. I’ll finish my snow goose story in my next article.
So till then, get out, enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, stay safe and I’ll see ya next week.