Bird Dog & Retriever News

June / July 2003 issue Page 41

 Iowa
LEGIONS OF NORTHBOUND SNOW GEESE PROVIDE IOWANS WITH CLASSIC HUNTS
CORNING--"I HEAR GEESE!"
The excited proclamation came from Drew Kuckler, who was now up on his knees, anxiously scanning the March skies for the source of the sound. The sky search was soon joined by my son Matt, who had already flipped the power switch on his electronic game caller.
The three of us were spending our Saturday afternoon in a south central Iowa cornfield, laying smack in the middle of 450 snow white goose decoys. From my position, the scene resembled the aftermath from an explosion at the diaper factory. Our hope, however, was that from the air the ruse would pass as a believable imitation of noisily feeding snow geese.
As the distinct, high pitched yelping of traveling snow geese grew steadily louder, our visual search became increasingly intense. It was Matt who first spotted the approaching geese.
"There they are. Coming straight at us from the south, " he announced.
Sure enough, a lined formation of geese had spotted our spread and was rapidly closing on the field. Utilizing the advantage provided by a brisk, 20-mph tailwind, the geese [I counted 41] sailed directly over the decoys and then quickly hooked back into the breeze. Amazingly, there was none of the usual highly cautious circling -- just a straight line decent into the decoys. As the snows crossed the 20-yard line, we rose to fire.
At this point I'd like to say that it rained geese. The fact of the matter is that we only managed to connect with four birds before the flock fell back into the wind and was gone.
It didn't really matter though. For the next hour and a half we were treated to a true spring spectacular as flock after endless flock of migrating snow geese passed over our location. The day's final highlight occurred as we began to peel birds from a lacework pattern of flocks passing at an altitude of several hundred feet. As the interest in our decoys built, more and more snows joined the groups already working the spread. The scenario ended with three or four hundred birds attempting to land in the decoys.
Of all the continent's waterfowl, snow geese have become the most wary and difficult species to lure into decoys. It is indeed a rare day when you can get a large flock of them to come within 10 yards or less of the spread -- but this was it. The noise was deafening, and it was a sight and sound that we'll cherish for a long time to come.
PERHAPS THE MOST INCREDIBLE ASPECT OF OUR HUNT was that it occurred just two weekends ago. Until recently, the idea of a spring goose hunt was something that waterfowl enthusiasts didn't even dream about. But as contemporary populations of lesser snow geese have continued to soar, the damage to fragile arctic nesting habitats has become intolerable.

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News May 2003
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
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