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.
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.
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.