With the crazy weather we have been having across the Midwest many of us our wondering where are the geese? My guide contacts have been telling me that most of the geese are stacked up in the northern half of Arkansas and southern parts of MO, IL, and Kansas.
As soon as the weather breaks I expect a very faster than usual migration pushing the snow line!
In general, the hunting has been much tougher than last year. Most of this is because of the poor juvey hatch this year but it can also be caused by a lack of migration flight. More on that below.
What is working this year?
The migration flight has definitely been more productive this year than the roost to feed flight. With many of the geese being holed up in the same general area for weeks, they are quickly learning where it is safe to roost, feed, and loaf. And to make matter worse many of the geese are eating in one field and hitting a different field the next day even though they went undisturbed the day before. Go figure…
Most of the larger shoots I have been hearing about have been on days with weather (fog, high winds, etc.) or when the birds are migrating both north and south given this crazy weather. And this is where you should focus if you have a flexible schedule. Play the weather and be in the field when the weather for your area is conducive to a migration.
What happens when all this snow melts?
The last time I recall we had this much snow across the Midwest (7+ years ago) it spread the birds out as they moved north. Sheet water was prevalent all over. Geese took advantage of the sheet water in the basin areas and instead of staging on the big refugees, the geese leveraged the sheet water for their roost overnight and flew back to the refuge only after the morning feed.
If you do have sheet water in your area it is always a good thing to setup in or around it. I prefer to setup most of my decoys on the upwind side of the sheet water with a good string of them in the water of possible. I then set my blinds on a dry area very close to the upwind side of the sheet water. This allows the geese to make their decent over the water with the birds finishing into the dry ground. For some reason it seems the decoying snow geese finish better when making their final decent over water finish closer.
Hunting and Setup tips
Plan on Some Serious Mud
When all this snow melts everything will become a muddy mess and the setup becomes more work! But…a little work has never stopped a hard-core snow goose hunter like yourself from going out. On years like this it is time to leave the big trailers on the road and 4-wheeler in the equipment. I prefer to drag a big sled full of equipment. Make sure to put an extra-long rope between the sled and the 4-wheeler so you do not cake everything with mud flying off the tires.
Set Once and Hunt More
In my opinion your hunt will be much more enjoyable and just as productive to set one massive spread in a known migration field. It is so much work and time intensive to move when it gets muddy that it just kills the fun. Not saying you cannot kill more geese being mobile each day but make sure to be strategic in any sets you make.
Decoy Selection and Storage Tips
When it comes to decoy selection a muddy mess always favors the convenience of FeatherTek windsocks. When you pick up your set of windsocks make sure to clean the stakes. I also prefer to stack them all the same way to keep the remaining mud off the Tyvek. If you are running full bodies make sure not to stack them in the mud when removing from the trailer. Also make sure to remove the base when putting back in the trailer. Nothing worse than having to clean a pile of decoys when a little prevention up front could have prevented it all.
With all the adults this year your hide will be more critical than ever. Take the extra time to brush those blinds or better yet, try hunting in whites. With all the extra time it will take to set decoys in the mud this year, throwing on some whites and jumping into the decoy spread seems more appealing than brushing layout blinds. There are tradeoffs in everything but if you are short on time this would be my choice to save a few minutes.
If you use the tips above I guarantee your hunt will be more enjoyable this year. Now I need to go snow blow the driveway for the umpteenth time this year!
Making you a better caller,