Three Spring Snow Goose Hunting Migration Stages
By Jonathan Olson
I have hunted snow geese for several years and have tried many different tactics over those years. There are different stages of the migration that you need to be aware of. There is the first push, which is typically adult snow geese that have literally seen it all and have been hunted for years. Then, there is the middle of the migration where you start seeing a lot younger, less intelligent birds that have not seen as many spreads and decoys. These birds are a little easier to hunt but you will still see a lot of adults mixed in. Then you get the last push, which are young birds and old adult birds that cannot breed anymore. Snow geese are some of the hardest birds to decoy, but when the conditions are right, they are a really fun bird to hunt!
Now to break it down:
First Push: These birds are really tough to decoy but are definitely tough to resist to try and decoy because there are so many birds in the area. This is tough because there is so much competition from other live birds that often times leaves you with really tough decoying. Just because you see 20k-40k in a field does not mean you are going to hammer the birds the next day (trust me)! Numbers of decoys is key here if you are going to have success decoying these older birds. Some say the average age of a snow goose is 13 years old and if this fact is true, that snow goose has been hunted 117 months out of 156 months of its life. That goose has seen thousands of spreads up and down the flyway. This is the push that you are going to shoot more bands and collars, which is one of the reasons people go out after them so hard.
Second Push: There is not as much competition with other birds and these birds are easy enough to scout and find an "X" to hunt. You are most likely going to have some success with these birds. They are not a bad group of birds to hunt in my opinion. You are going to want a pretty descent size spread to make things work most of the time. This part of the migration responds to your extras in the spread better such as fliers and rotaries. You are going to have a higher percentage of younger birds in these flocks.
Third Push: Young and dumb is all I have to say. These birds are staged up in pockets and often times are very hard to scout! You should expect to put on a lot of miles scouting. If you find these birds, you will put up good numbers and your success will sky rocket. A Large spread is not really a must but definitely will help you. These flocks are usually migrating in flocks of 5k; not 20k plus.
Weather plays a major role in all of this as well. This is my two cents; take it for what its worth. These statements are not science just my opinion. I hope this helps you in the field and gives you a better understanding on the spring snow goose migration.