High winds foil hunters of suspicious snow geese

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Feb. 12, 2002.

Charlie Farmer, Springfield News Leader

High winds foil hunters of suspicious snow geese

Yesterday I interviewed a snow goose guide who is near and dear to my heart. Scott is his name and he’s my 23-year-old son. He and friend, Chris Irwin, a fine photographer for Bass Pro Shops, planned a two day goose hunt for 10 hunters.

I was off on a fishing assignment those days and missed the hunt that was held in the Rich Hill area. Approximately I,500 decoys were set out Thursday in anticipation of the Thursday hunt. Scott and Chris estimated 5,000 snow geese were using the area were the decoys were staked. There also were large concentrations of geese on the water at Four Rivers Conservation Area.

Scott and Chris were elated with the numbers of flocks milling around winter wheat, corn and water. It was one of the largest showing of snow geese that they had seen in years. And it bode well for them and the hunters early in the next morning at daybreak.

Scott was up early the next morning. A soft breeze blew out of the west. Nothing to fret about. The decoys would display moving wings and bodies.

Convoys of trucks made it to the field in short order. The wind a little brisker than before. Guides and hunters spread out on the field. Some hunters use loungers made for goose hunting that keeps them off the cold ground and mud. Other hunters use low-slung canvas chairs or beach or pool loungers painted white or camouflage.

The first encounter of geese is good. Hunters shoot, birds fall. The first hour of shooting yields 15 geese.

There are no guarantees in shooting the wily snow goose. In a flash it seems the once calm breeze turns gale force. Decoys on the ground look disheveled. Many topple. The live flocks keep coming, but they hesitate when the white and blue birds on the ground flop and fall like injured comrades.

A single snow goose heads right for the disheveled decoys. Everybody shoots. Scott believes 50 rounds of steel shot were expended in that volley The bird in question never fell.

Saturday was just as bad. Maybe worse with hard rain and brisk winds that once again hampered the decoys.

When I talked to my son yesterday, he had some ideas that would have made the decoy situation better for all goose hunters. In heavy winds don’t use wind socks that blow, flutter and spook live geese. Use decoys that have solid plastic bodies that can also be anchored firmly in the ground.

Scott believes 200 plastic bodies in hard wind would be much better that a thousand windsocks in that situation.

The grand total for two days was 36 geese. Without hard wind, it could have been much more. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. Hunters and guides still had fun and adventure. That’s what counts.

Contact free-lance columnist Charlie Farmer at 1197 East Court, Ozark, MO 65721 or cjoutdoors318365@aol.com
 


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