Hundreds of thousands of snow geese wing their way south with each approaching fall.
The explosion of the snow goose population in recent decades has created additional hunting opportunities for waterfowl hunters as well.
The traditional light goose hunting season runs from early November through early February.
However, an additional Conservation Order in place since 1999 has helped reduce the snow goose population by one-half.
During the Conservation Order, hunters only need a Conservation Order permit.
Rules are relaxed, offering tremendous hunting opportunities, and there are no daily limits or possession limits on light geese.
Additionally, plugs may be taken out of shotguns and electronic callers.
Shotguns 10 gauge and under may also be used, however only non-toxic shot is allowed.
Check regulations in each state where you hunt prior to your trip.
Hunting opportunities for snow geese exist across the Midwest and South at numerous Department of Conservation areas, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges, as well as Corps of Engineers reservoirs.
Additionally, since snow geese scatter out over hundreds of thousands of agricultural fields across the region and often cause extensive damage to fields and crops, many farmers are also open to hunters who want to hunt snow geese.
The Conservation Order established a new hunting tradition and goose hunters now kill 10 times more light geese than prior to the order.
Missouri hunters have been the most successful in the flyways and enjoy the good fortune of their state being located at the right latitude at the right time of year.
Gunners catch light geese on their annual migrations going both north and south.
The quickest way to enjoy success at snow goose hunting is to either team up with an experienced snow goose hunter or hire an outfitter.
It literally takes 1,000-plus decoys to get snow geese to look at your setup.
After all, they live a long time and are extremely smart. And few people want to invest in 1,000 to 1,500 snow decoys, electronic callers, motion decoys, plus a trailer to haul all the gear.
Kris Nelson of Tandem Fly Outfitters, who guides snow goose hunters near Stockton Lake in west-central Missouri, says
“The fall migrations were phenomenal. Tens of thousands of snow geese poured into the area, as well as at nearby Four Rivers Conservation Area. I can’t wait until the conservation order kicks in. That’s when we kill most of our light geese, because of the relaxed regulations.”
The expansion of rice production in the Midwest and South has been largely responsible for the explosion in the light goose population. Wherever you find rice, you are likely to find snow geese.
“Snow goose hunting can become addicting,” said avid hunter Frank Cox. “I know guys that follow them all the way from Canada to Texas and back.”
Snow geese love rice fields and winter wheat fields alike. Farmers deplore them because they are grubbers, pulling the entire root from the ground, along with the greenery. Large flocks of snow geese can do considerable damage to a winter wheat field in just one day.
“A lot of snow hunters concentrate their efforts around the Missouri-Arkansas line during the conservation order,” says Perry May, a retired waterfowl guide from the area.
“Snows like to stay just below the freeze line. Unfrozen ground makes it easier for them to feed. As a result, they hop-scotch back and forth across the border as temperatures rise and fall. It makes for great snow goose hunting opportunities.”
Regardless of whether you catch snow geese in Texas or Iowa during the conservation order, you are in for alot of shooting and a ton of fun.
Bill Cooper lives in the Missouri Ozarks. An award winning writer, he is a member of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and has penned over 2,000 hunting articles.