Endless flocks of snow geese floated over our fog-shrouded rice-field blinds into a couple thousand well-placed decoys in a January setup near Stuttgart, Arkansas. Blinds flung open as guns reached skyward, pumping steel shot into the flocks. Meat fell from the sky. “Epic! Epic!” my shooting partner Marcus Hansen barked between blasts of his Franchi 12-gauge. And the geese fell, and fell and fell. Over four hundred of ‘em piled up in the stubble by the end of the third setup. The epic shoot of a lifetime, we filled two short-bed pickups with fallen white. And had enough great meat to star in many a feast over the next season.
Marcus Hansen adjusts a snow goose decoy in the wee hours of morning under a portable Foxfury light in a foggy stubble field north of Stuttgart, Arkansas. HuntStand’s SetZone Wind Map allows waterfowl hunters to optimize their decoy setups to lure in big flights of snows.
Dale Sprouse settles into his layout blind and gets his 12-gauge ready for the onslaught of snows that were about to descend upon us from a nearby lake.
Guide Nick Posusta (EagleHeadOutdoors.com) made an adjustment to a spinner decoy under truck headlights as we hurried to get the setup perfected before the snows came in to our spread.
Black Cloud No. 2s got unboxed and prepped into shell belts to ensure quick access during the oncoming snowstorm.
Franchi 12-gauge, Black Cloud at the ready near my blind. I personally shot three triples that first morning, and more doubles than I can remember. Helps to be the guy on the far-right end sometimes!
Marcus Hansen clicks off a few shots of the group and the first morning’s take as heavy clouds darken the horizon just north of Stuttgart.
Marcus Hansen helps line up geese for counting and photos.
Marcus Hansen coming back from cleaning up the fields from fallen snows between volleys of flights from a nearby lake bed.
Mature snows fell from the sky, along with plenty of juvenile birds. The foggy conditions help fool the very wary birds, which came into several electronic calls and a couple thousand decoys.
Marcus Hansen’s gun roars into the foggy dark, dropping another snow to the muddy stubble field below.
Scanning the sky for incoming flocks, Marcus Hansen hurries back to the cover of our layout blinds.
Marcus Hansen watches the sky for more geese approaching from the south as he drops fallen snow geese into the pile that was stacking up around our blinds.
You gotta get pictures ’cuz they ain’t going to believe this story back home! A couple of our hunter friends document the morning as we started to realize just what Nick Posusta and his guide service, Eaglehead Outdoors, had gotten us into.
Dale Sprouse watches the sky for yet another following flock as the daylight became stronger. Shooting was great in the weak morning light, and got even better when the light came up. We didn’t quit shooting until the lake south of us emptied out of geese close to noon.
Dale Sprouse used a little mud and cow dung to liven up the morning, putting a glare-reducing smudge all over his cheeks. We learned to lie pretty still and quiet in the layouts until our guide barked “Kill ’em, Boys!”
Snows by the hundreds of thousands flock to farmers’ fields from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico spring and fall in their annual migration. They’re huntable both spring and fall, with unlimited numbers of birds allowable in most states. There are also no restrictions on numbers of shells allowed per gun, and electronic calls are legal.
Nick Posusta makes an adjustment in his electronic call and spinner motion decoy setup during a break in the shooting. It’s common to see the guides reposition calls, spinners and decoys to lure the flocks within gun range.
After an evening shoot, we pulled meat from bird bodies with a Bird Hitch, a device that makes short work of separating breast meat from whole bird bodies. We piled all those wings and breasts atop my truck in contractor bags for the long minus-14-degree trip back to Minnesota.
Snow goose breasts make GREAT table fare, especially when cooked on a hardwood charcoal grill to medium rare or rare. Here I whipped up a blackberry and red wine reduction sauce, just to be a little fancy! Some people I’ve heard refer to snows as “sky carp.” Bull. Sky CANDY, more like it!