March 22, 2022
By Jim McConville
Every year it seems that snow goose hunters all over speak of “how weird the birds are this year.”
And while it has been tough in places, Arkansas sure saw a classic heyday this March, as Wildfowl’s Jim McConville headed south to link up with Leg Iron Outfitters in Central Arkansas and scored big on flocks of gullible juvies.
Jim braced himself to be told “shoulda been here yesterday” as Rob Hansen of Leg Iron reported his clients killing 1,300 geese in the 12 days prior to Jim’s arrival.
But it was meant to be. After years of chasing snows each spring, Big Jim finally scored his first wildly successful hunt. He shares the lowdown on a thriller of a trip, and what he learned along the way.
Check out the short video clip from Mason McEntire that highlights just how well the hunt went!
Once in a Blue Goose Moon
“I arrived on a Saturday and we all split up and drove in different directions looking for feeds, finding six. At dinner we determined the feed to south was our best bet. Starting at 4 a.m. the next morning, we set out 1,500 windsocks and 12 dozen silhouettes, dressed in our whites and laid in the center of the spread facing the downwind side. We put silhouettes on the corners and sides of the laydown pads to break up any corners and right angles of our hides.
With winds blowing at 25 mph and temps in the 20s, we stayed downwind of the spread and were killing geese about 15 yards off the deck before they would lift up.
I ran a Stoeger M3500 snow goose shotgun. The nine round magazine capacity was a huge advantage in making piles. It would cycle all nine shells just like mom’s sewing machine; smooth and reliable. Fiocchi steel BB’s knocked the stuffing out of these geese. My brand-new Nomad Outdoor bibs and jacket kept me warm under my whites.
On day two we got on the levee of a rice field and used panel blinds. With this set up we shot crosswind and were on the side of the decoy spread luring the birds into the wind and we piled them up!
I made a long circus shot on a single blue goose…Banded!
On the third day we ran six dozen full body decoys right in the front by the kill hole of the decoy spread—on the very first spin in the morning we knocked down 51 geese in one volley.
Here's What I Learned
1. Absolutely use mouth calls even though you’re running an electric caller. The geese have an unbelievable ability to pinpoint you in the middle of 1,500 decoys.
2. The most important feature of a decoy is not the feathers and detail but the shadow it casts onto the ground from above and being anatomically correct with five to six different poses.
3. Always try to have the sun and wind at your back but try across-wind setups for a different presentation.
While avian bird flu reports have trickled in, the migration seems healthy overall. Leg Iron reportedly took down 2,000 birds in just the first three weeks in March, and 3,000 total on the year. February was slower, with 24-45 birds a day on average, Rob Hansen reports. He wrapped up his season March 22, but said there were still hundreds of thousands of geese in Northeast Arkansas and heading north.