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Our Arkansas snow goose hunt was too much to be covered in one article. So, this week I’ll finish up on our adventure.
Now in order to catch up with the story, get a copy of last week’s paper and read it!
On day one our group got up at 6 a.m., two hours later than our usual Kentucky duck hunts. So I’m thinking that this snow goose hunting is all right! Our guide was a young man from further south in Arkansas. He met us at the lodge and we left for the field. We arrived about 20 minutes later to a full decoy spread and thoroughly brushed our layout blinds. We’d already seen some flights of snows traveling the sky so it looked good so far.
On closer examination of our blinds we noticed a lot of empty hulls laying around. Some were new, some old! This indicated the field had been set for a while and used, in my opinion, by some hunters who didn’t adhere to our standards. That’s one way of saying they were slobs, we picked up their hulls!
One bird tried to sneak in but was stopped when he or she was met by a load of steel from Gary Wilkerson’s 10 gauge. We thought the early bird was a good indicator of what was to come. It wasn’t.
As far as birds showing interest in our spread, it was a good day. As far as birds working the decoys and coming in close enough for a shot, it wasn’t such a good morning. They’d come in then flare off.
Snows routinely 20 years or older, so they’ve made the north and south then north again trip enough to know the ropes. In other words, they don’t reach that age by being stupid.
Consider several hundred thousand eyeballs looking you over and everything better be perfect or you’re busted ... it wasn’t and we were.
But, we got to see several mobs of geese so the morning wasn’t a total loss. Just so you’ll know, a flight of snows is called a “mob”. May be several hundred or several thousand birds, as in 50 or 60 thousand birds!
We stayed until lunch with no luck, so we decided to try Miss Vicki’s in Cash, Arkansas, population 342, for lunch. After lunch it was back to the lodge and a nap.
Later that afternoon it was back to the same field, with the same results. I read somewhere that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is, well, stupid. That might not be the right word, but you know what I mean!
The next morning it was storming and intense. We all agreed we didn’t mind hunting in the rain but hunting in the rain and lightening was ludicrous. O.K. It was stupid. So we slept in the morning of day two.
That afternoon, the weather broke and, with a different guide, we headed to a different field.
This time the field was clear of empty hulls and the blinds were bigger. It was, however, muddy, very muddy. Once again the mobs of geese came in and we got some decent shooting.
Now during the “conversation season” you can shoot snow geese, but not the specks (speckle belly) geese, which fly with the snows ... it gets confusing!
That afternoon I had a blind on the edge of a mob that worked into our spread. When you have eight guys shooting into a mob of geese you really can’t be sure who hit what.
Anyway, we totaled six birds, a far cry from the 40-plus we expected, but that’s hunting.
Day three started at 4 a.m. early. When we got to our field, this time with the head guide, Rob Stucker, it was devoid of decoys and blinds. Then it hit me why we got up at 4 a.m. and our guide was pulling a trailer. We were going to set the decoys.
It’s amazing how quickly you can set a decoy spread when you have several helping. In and about half an hour, we had a spread of 800-plus decoys set. We put out a couple of vortex machines, some flyers and windsocks. Our blinds were on a levee and as soon as we got in them, one solitary goose came in so low that it would have been dangerous to shoot. The snow finally cleared and Terry dropped it.
That was pretty much it for the morning!
The way snow goose hunting goes is that your guide puts in a lot of time scouting fields the birds are using. He then gets landowner permission to hunt, sets a decoy spread and places his hunters.
We were setting the spread because our guide secured the field late the previous day. Our problem was “jump shooters”. These are a group, around 10 or so, who find a field the birds are using. They follow the drainage ditches to where the birds are, then jump up shooting. Now when you have thousands of birds in a field, and that many shooters open up on them, it’s a massacre.
Understand, snow geese are in the millions and literally destroy hundreds of acres when they feed. They defecate in and ruin waterways. Many people hate the snows and will allow anything that kills thems, and almost any method is legal!
That’s what happened to the field we were hunting. After our guide left, the jump shooters came. Our guide thought we’d have a hot field. We didn’t!
We broke down the decoy spread, loaded everything up and headed to the lodge. There, we had a talk with our guide.
He confirmed there was little to no chance of getting any birds that afternoon. He felt so bad about not putting us on birds that we were offered a discounted hunt next season.
With no chance of an afternoon hunt, and the others having to get back for work, we decided to pack it in and come home.
We were simply victims of circumstance. Bad weather, shot out field and so on. But hey, there’s always next year.
The owner of the property was a retired sheriff’s deputy, so we got along real well, even got invited back to hunt during duck season! Our trip home was uneventful, except for getting lost once, and hitting a deer!
Guess that’s it for now. Get out, enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, stay safe and I’ll see ya next week!