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Hunting Snow Geese in April

Best In: Manitoba

My first experiences with snow geese were all in southwestern Manitoba, where I finally came to understand the expression “wild goose chase.” Despite their abundance, snow geese pose a daunting challenge for waterfowlers; their cautious nature makes getting within range an exercise in patience, persistence and precision. At least there are now plenty of chances to find success, thanks to the recent introductions of spring hunts in several states and provinces to rein in burgeoning populations. Manitoba’s southwestern corner offers one of the best, with generous bag limits. For those looking to break away from the winter doldrums, this is one economical hunt, with no shortage of available numbers. The key to locating snow geese is first finding where they’re actively feeding: flooded fields with waste grain from the previous fall or newly emerging spring greens are the best bets. Of course, outsmarting these birds is another matter—if there were a consistent and reliable path to success, there’d be a lot less reason for the spring hunt.

Technique

There are two main approaches that successful snow goose hunters use. The first involves putting out as many decoys as you can muster: shells, full bodies, blankets, flags, rags-it doesn’t matter, the more the merrier. Then lie down among them dressed in all white or under a white blanket and hope that the geese succumb to the lure of your spread and calls. Alternatively, you can pass shoot snow geese, intercepting them from behind natural cover as they move from their staging wetlands to feeding fields.

Essential Gear

Aside from decoys and white clothing, all you’ll need is a shotgun and shells. I recommend a 12-gauge choked modified. As for shotshells, it’s tough to beat a three-inch load of #2s, whether you’re shooting steel or one of the non-toxic alternatives. And, oh yeah, bring lots of them.

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Ken Bailey

Ken Bailey

An all-around hunter, Ken Bailey enjoys pursuing waterfowl the most. Based in Edmonton, Outdoor Canada's longtime hunting editor Ken Bailey has hunted every major Canadian game animal, in every corner of the country. For many years, he’s shared his deep knowledge of game behaviour, and wide expertise with all manner of firearms with OC's readers. His work has been recognized numerous times by both the Outdoor Writers of Canada and the National Magazine Awards. Ken is a committed conservationist, dedicated to habitat preservation, sustainable harvests, and passing along our hunting heritage to the next generation. He's also an avid fly fisherman, and a pretty darn good game chef.

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