March 10, 2023
By Colton Heward
Top 5 Emerging States for Snow Goose Hunting
With the spring snow goose hunting season underway, here are the top five emerging, overlooked, or underrated places to hunt.
Massive flocks of decoying snow geese offer passionate waterfowlers an over-stimulated, adrenaline rush of epic proportions. Luckily for us, snow geese inhabit every flyway in the country, opening the doors for a wide range of opportunities to pursue these devilish white migrators. With that said, there are a few states that reign supreme when it comes to hunting snow geese. These include Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, and the Dakota’s, drawing thousands of waterfowl enthusiasts every year in pursuit of snow geese. While these locations may have the notoriety, there are several other states that offer some incredible snow goose hunting opportunities that are commonly overlooked.
Whether you are researching for your next outfitted hunt, or embarking on a DIY snow goose hunting adventure, these five underrated states are worthy of a closer look. The chaos that is snow goose hunting may be closer to you than you think.
Snow Goose Hunting in California
All politics aside, The Golden State offers waterfowl hunters a smorgasbord of hunting opportunities, including some of, if not the best snow goose hunting in the country. I listed California first, because according to the numbers, hunters kill more light geese in California than any state in our great nation. U.S Fish & Wildlife survey numbers reported an astonishing 108,194 light geese killed by hunters during the 2021-2022 season.
Light geese are found up and down the entire state, but the majority of the hunting is done in the northern half where a substantial portion of the Pacific Flyway’s goose population resides for the winter. The fertile soil of northern California is also a hot bed for rice fields which provide a significant food source for an abundance of waterfowl. An added bonus to hunting snow geese in California is the high likelihood of adding a specklebelly goose or two to your strap—during the fall season of course. Their seasons generally coincide, and the two goose species often frequent the same food sources.
If a guided hunt is on your radar, there are plenty of reputable outfitters to choose from when hunting snow geese in California. Before booking, do your diligence, ask plenty of questions, and talk to several referral sources that have previously hunted with the outfitter. While nothing is guaranteed when hunting, you owe it to yourself and your hard-earned money to thoroughly vet a potential outfitter as much as possible.
Snow Goose Hunting in Kansas
If you have driven across Kansas, it is easy to see why it is labeled a “flyover” state, with seemingly endless miles of rolling, golden yellow prairie grass and agricultural fields. But don’t be fooled. Waterfowl opportunities abound in the Sunflower State and hunters killed more light geese in Kansas during the 2021-2022 hunting season than the fabled snow goose hunting destination of South Dakota. By the end of the 2021-2022 Kansas snow goose season, hunters saw a slight increase in harvest from the previous season, with a reported 21, 969 light geese killed. For reference, South Dakota reported a total season harvest of 16,414 light geese during the same period.
One obstacle that snow goose hunters will have to overcome in Kansas, is that a high percentage of the prime real estate is locked up via land leases to the plethora of outfitters that operate there. The sheer number of outfitters is telling of how good the waterfowl hunting is and is not a problem if you are looking for a barrel-burner of a guided hunt. However, if you are the DIY type of hunter, know ahead of time that access may be more difficult here than other places. That is not to say that you still can’t knock on a door and get permission, but just be prepared that it will take some extra effort and a little luck to get permission on a field with a large snow goose feed.
Snow Goose Hunting in Louisiana
Louisiana’s waterfowl rich oxbows and levees of the Mississippi River, and the coastal bays of the Gulf of Mexico, have long been a highly coveted duck hunting destination. However, the plentiful snow goose hunting opportunities here continue to be overlooked by many. During the 2021-2022 season, hunters killed a reported 19,506 light geese. Louisiana’s snow goose harvest was beat only by one state in the Mississippi flyway, that being the snow goose hunting Mecca of Arkansas.
The mild climate found along the shores of Louisiana are home to an estimated two to three million snow geese during the brutally cold winters that the northern half of the United States and Canada experience. These staggering numbers allow savvy snow goose hunters to hunt one of the most densely populated snow goose regions anywhere in the country. Ducks may be their crowning jewel. but make no mistake, Louisiana is undoubtedly capable of making your wildest snow goose hunting dreams a reality.
Snow Goose Hunting in Washington
Washington is another state that slips under the radar of serious snow goose hunters. When comparing harvest statistics over the past few years, Washington consistently falls in the top five producing snow goose states in the country! While local waterfowlers would prefer that this secret stay buried, you can’t argue with the numbers. High harvest counts equate to plenty of birds to be hunted.
The geographical diversity of Washington is vast, spanning from dense coastal forests to high-desert plains, and just about everything in between. Snow geese can be found across most of the state, but the majority of geese are found scattered across the rolling ag fields, potholes, and river systems east of the Cascades. Washington is also a solid option for the dedicated DIY hunter with nearly one million acres of private land enrolled in their Private Lands Access Program. This program provides valuable access to respectful hunters on prime hunting properties.
Snow Goose Hunting in New York
While the eastern seaboard does not experience near the numbers of snow geese that the other flyways do, there is some snow goose hunting opportunities to be had. Surprisingly enough, New York was the top producing snow goose state in the Atlantic Flyway according to 2021-2022 season harvest surveys. Only 8,617 total light geese were reported being harvested in the entire Atlantic Flyway, with 5,770 of those were killed in New York.
Following their normal goose season that runs throughout most of the fall, New York holds a generous snow goose conservation order from mid-January to mid-April. This long season gives hunters ample time to get into the field and do their part in helping keep the snow goose numbers in check. According to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, “the Finger Lakes Region, St. Lawrence Valley, Upper Hudson Valley, and Champlain Valley” all hold large numbers of snow geese during the spring conservation order season.
It is also worth noting that the vast majority of snow geese in the Atlantic Flyway are the greater snow goose subspecies. Greater snow geese are identical in appearance to the lesser snow goose but are, on average, two to three pounds heavier and have a slightly longer wingspan.
Snow geese are amongst the most intelligent and frustrating species of waterfowl to pursue. I suppose that is what fuels the addiction for diehard snow goose hunters. No matter where you call home, chances are there are some snow goose opportunities to be had close to home. Do your part this spring and get out to experience some adrenaline-filled waterfowl hunting while taking part in a vital conservation role.