If you have not heard about the snow goose hatch of 2018 it was not good. All my guide contacts have been telling me their fall kill up in Canada had less than 5% juvies. Compare that to last year where the juvie kill was upwards of 60% and it can spell tough hunting….for those not ready for it.
So I wanted to put this note together.
Bad hatches have happened many times in my snow goose hunting career. Years ago it used to cause me lots of skunks, birds hanging up at 100 yards, and packing my gear up questioning why I hunt these things.
So it is safe to say I have learned the hard way how to deal with a bad hatch.
One thing I learned is this:
The most important four words for bad hatch year snow goose hunting are:
“Get back to basics”.
So OK! Let’s get started.
This is advice I follow on bad hatch years.
Big Spreads Kill Geese
The more geese that look at your spread the more geese you will kill no matter you’re your finishing percentage is. Whether you are playing a refuge feed flight game, running traffic on a migrator route, or hunting the X, you will get more geese to take a look with a bigger spread. I prefer to run FeatherTek windsocks and lots of them. No matter what decoy you run, get a big foot print on the ground. If money is tight I would buy more snows than blues as they can spot the white contrast against the ground from very high up.
Be Diffrent and be Natural
These geese have been up an down the flyway at least once and many of them ten to fifteen times. With the internet making location tracking easier they are seeing decoy spreads multiple times each day. I could go on and on but long story short, be different and be natural!
For example I plan on running less rotaries because the area I hunt most of the spreads have a couple rotaries going in them. Instead I am going to run more flapping wing decoys such as wing beat power flappers on intermittent mode sprinkled throughout my spread. This will appear as geese stretching their wings and hopping around randomly all over.
Keep It Real Where It Counts
Keep your most realistic decoys closer to where you expect the geese to finish. The outside decoys in my spread will be almost entirely headless socks and as the geese get closer to the kill hole the more headed decoys I will have.
E-caller Volume and Speaker Placement
I will have my snomachine e-callers turned up just loud enough to get the geese interested yet not so loud to blow them out of the field. I will do my best to keep speakers pointed in such a way there are no dead spots and more importantly no extra loud spots. This will make the spread sound very natural as the geese circle the spread on their way down.
Hide like a Ninja Where the Geese Are Not Looking
Spend the extra time needed to hide your blind. It is amazing how quickly the geese can pick out layout blinds these days. If your cover is skinny I would consider hunting in whites and ditching the blinds.
As an added ninja tactic consider hunting off to the side of your kill hole. This will have the geese focusing on an area that you are not hiding in. This is my go to tactic if hunting a field that has limited cover.
Play The Weather
Finally make every effort to is play the weather. If you can time your hunt around a weather front bringing in new birds your odds of a good hunt go way up.
Now get out there and enjoy the migration. I have had some of my biggest tornadoes on years with less jucy geese.