Manitoba and Saskatchewan have long been part of the snow goose migration route from warmer wintering areas in the south to breeding grounds in the Canadian north. As the population increased, however, the migration route likewise expanded into Alberta (see “Prairie pit stop” below).
Snow geese breed from late May to mid-August, but they spend more than half the year migrating to and from their wintering areas. Depending on the weather, hunters usually start seeing the first giant waves of geese during the first week of April through to mid-May.
The largest numbers of snows are typically harvested throughout the central and southern portions of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Alberta hunters will see the biggest flocks in the southern and eastern portion of the province along the Saskatchewan border. In recent years, there have also been reports of large numbers of birds as far west as Pincher Creek.
Snow geese feed on a variety of agricultural crops, but hunters should focus their spring scouting on uncut crops left standing from the previous fall. If there’s still snow on the ground, look for high spots in the fields. The snow usually melts from these areas first, allowing hungry geese to feed easier without having to push their heads through the crusted snow.
Best is an exposed food source in an agricultural field with large, open water nearby. Snow geese will use these areas throughout the spring migration, as well as during the fall migration. If you’re fortunate to find such a location in the early spring, consider leaving your decoys set up for several days, if not the entire season. There will always be new geese passing through and willing to land in your spread. As always, be sure to seek landowner permission before setting up.