South Dakota: Snow Goose Hunting Hot Spot?

South Dakota is known as a pheasant destination in fall, but exploding snow geese numbers have also made it a fantastic spring destination for waterfowl hunters.

Last spring, Huntley Ritter, host of The Outfitters journeyed to Aberdeen, S.D., where he joined outfitter Jeff Wasley of Four Flyways Outfitters on a spring hunt for snows. The sheer number of birds was unbelievable and the team managed to run through a mountain of shotshells as they participated in this special hunt designed to curb out-of-control goose populations, which are ruining fragile Arctic habitat to the north when they migrate.

Don't miss a second of the action; be sure to tune in Thursday, July 25, at 8:30 p.m. (EST) on The Sportsman Channel, and be sure to enter the Ford Insider Adventure Giveaway for a chance to win the ultimate outdoor adventure and a brand new Ford F-150 with EcoBoost.


Snow goose numbers have risen to such heights that the South Dakota game department has begun special spring hunts to try and curb the population, which has become a threat to the fragile Arctic habitat where the birds migrate to.
Though well known as a pheasant-hunting destination, South Dakota offers incredible waterfowling opportunities with extended conservation seasons for snow geese in spring. Find a food source (like standing corn) and you\'ll find snow geese.
By the time spring arrives, snow geese have been hunted so hard that they are super wary. To avoid spooking birds, blinds and decoys must be set up well before dawn. Geese will almost always return to the same spot they were feeding the day before if they\'re not disturbed.
Jeff Wasley tucks in and gets ready to call. By spring, snow geese have seen it all, so they are very call shy. Large decoy spreads and just a few subtle calls to get flocks to commit is what it takes. The biggest mistake is over-calling.
Snow geese are extremely wary, which is why such large decoy spreads are required to lure them in. Setting the largest part of the spread on the downwind side of the blind forces geese to fly into the wind and presents more shots to hunters.
Wasley uses a combination of shells and flag decoys in combination with models like this that have a solid head. Motion within the spread is natural and will attract birds, but motion inside the blind will send birds scurrying away.
The effort to curb snow goose numbers is so important that electronic callers are permissible in many areas. These birds are hunted hard almost year-round, so it takes every trick in the book to fool them.
Sock decoys set up quickly and provide a blanket of security for geese passing overhead. When geese see huge spreads, they are much more likely to land.
The advantage to using windsock dekes like these is that they fill and move with just the slightest bit of breeze, which lends a feeling of natural movement to the spread.
These high flyers are taking a good look. Anything that looks out of place on the ground will spook birds, so care must be taken to tuck blinds in and hunters must avoid any kind of unnecessary movements when they're in the blind.
South Dakota is 12-gauge country with many shots on snow geese coming at 30 to 40 yards. Outfitter Jeff Wasley recommends shotguns chambered for 3- or 3.5-inch shotshells loaded with steel #2 through BBB in more open chokes.
Isolated pockets of snow geese decoy better than massive groups. Wasley also tries to target juvenile, non-breeding birds that tend to migrate in behind older adults. Black flag decoys help to camouflage the darker color of the blind.
Despite being spring, this hunt took place in 12-degree F temperatures. Hunters need to be prepared for the cold by bringing lots of clothing layers. The cold weather kept thousands of snow geese in the area and made this an exceptionally good conservation hunt.

Win an F-150 and the trip of a lifetime!

Click here to enter!

Recommended for You

Ready to grill up some delicious, juicy waterfowl burgers? This Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe is made with ground duck breast fillets and a kick of horseradish. Recipes

Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe

Scott Leysath

Ready to grill up some delicious, juicy waterfowl burgers? This Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe...

Take it from a pro: Less is more. For Dogs

Dog Discipline Tips & Gear

Joe Genzel - June 20, 2019

Take it from a pro: Less is more.

The sweet, tangy flavor of orange juice combined with spicy jalapeños in this duck recipe will have your taste buds screaming for more. Recipes

Sweet Jalapeño Grilled Duck Recipe

Scott Leysath, "The Sporting Chef"

The sweet, tangy flavor of orange juice combined with spicy jalapeños in this duck recipe will...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Women

Women's Waterfowl Lineup

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the company's full line-up of women's waterfowl hunting gear for 2019. From warm and moisture-wicking base layers to water and windproof outer layers, this is a complete system for women who love to chase fall and wintertime ducks and geese across the four flyways!

Picking a Puppy

Picking a Puppy

Wildfowl contributor Mark Romanack shares advice about choosing your next retriever.

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Craig Boddington and Eric Poole take a look at the new modern Franchi Affinity shotgun.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

While there's no guarantee they'll make you a better shot, these 8 newly-designed shotgun choke Accessories

8 Best Choke Tubes for 2017

Wildfowl Online Staff - October 25, 2017

While there's no guarantee they'll make you a better shot, these 8 newly-designed shotgun...

Author John M. Taylor has broken down the top waterfowl shotguns for the 2018 season. Shotguns

Best Waterfowl Shotguns of 2018

John Taylor - September 25, 2018

Author John M. Taylor has broken down the top waterfowl shotguns for the 2018 season.

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the Bozeman, Montana company's full line-up of women's waterfowl hunting gear for 2019. From warm and moisture wicking base layers to water and windproof outer layers, this is a complete system for women who love to chase fall and wintertime ducks and geese across the four flyways! Clothing & Waders

New SITKA Women's Waterfowl Lineup for 2019

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the Bozeman, Montana company's full...

See More Stories

More North America

With second-to-none hunting opportunities, Birdtail Waterfowl is the place for diehards! North America

Hunt Manitoba's Pothole Region at Birdtail

Online Staff - March 25, 2019

With second-to-none hunting opportunities, Birdtail Waterfowl is the place for diehards!


Guide Tony Bernsen called, killed ducks and entertained us with the ease of a man who had no North America

The Scablands

Joe Genzel - December 21, 2017

Guide Tony Bernsen called, killed ducks and entertained us with the ease of a man who had no

On the edge of the Prairie Pothole Region looms a buffetof trophy ducks on public land that hardly North America

Nebraska: The Hidden Sand Hills

Mike Gnatkowski - February 23, 2018

On the edge of the Prairie Pothole Region looms a buffetof trophy ducks on public land that...

See More North America

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.