July 19, 2022
By Colton Heward
If you thrive on sleep deprivation, frustration, gas station pizza and playing in the mud, then you might be a snow goose hunter. Luckily these questionable traits are offset with the occasional payoff of chaos as thousands of snow geese cyclone over your massive spread of decoys. This spectacle of a snow goose “tornado” is one of the most incredible phenomena in the waterfowl world to experience, and keeps the addiction alive for the serious snow goose hunter.
Hunting light geese (Snow, Blue and Ross’s), specifically during the Spring Conservation Order, is an entirely different monster to tackle than any other waterfowl hunting endeavor. Imagine a no-holds barred goose hunt with extended shooting hours, no daily bag limits, blaring e-callers, and extended magazines. That’s a recipe for mayhem!
The spring conservation season also provides a torture test of massive proportions on your favorite shotgun. This abuse combined with the necessity of adding an extended magazine sounds like a great excuse to buy a new shotgun.
Stoeger M3500 Snow Goose Shotgun Waterfowler Specifications
- Type: semi-automatic shotgun
- Gauge/Chamber: 12, 3.5-inch
- Magazine Capacity: 10+1 rounds
- Sights: red-bar front
- Stock: composite; white cerakote
- Weight: 8.2 lbs.
- Barrel Length: 28-inch
- Overall Length: 50-inch
- Length of Pull: 14 3/8-inch
- Drop at Heel: 2 1/2-inch
- Drop at Comb: 1 1/2-inch
- Finish: distressed white cerakote
- Chokes: IC, M, XFT, Close Range, Mid-Range
- Suggested Retail Price: $900
Getting to Know the Stoeger M3500 Snow Goose Shotgun
The Stoeger M3500 shotgunhas been their flagship waterfowl shotgun for several years with multiple barrel lengths and color patterns to choose from. The M3500 Snow Goose shotgun is built around the same inertia action as its M3500 counterparts, but that is where the similarities end.
The first thing that catches the eye when handling the Snow Goose model is the distressed, white Cerekote finish. This finish is not only appealing to the eyes, but it incorporates your gun into the sea of white decoys that you are laying under. The Snow Goose model also features an integrated extended magazine tube. It doesn’t happen often, but when that mega flock of snow geese plummets feet-first into the decoys, you will be very grateful for every shell you have. You can put ten rounds in the magazine with 2 ¾ inch shells, nine with 3-inch shells, and eight rounds with 3 ½ inch shells. Other features include an oversized bolt handle and bolt release for easy functioning with gloves on, five extended choke tubes ranging from improved cylinder to extended full, and a useful black paracord sling.
Weighing in at 8.2 pounds, the M3500 Snow Goose is not a light shotgun. Throw in another eight to ten shells in the magazine and you have some substantial weight to lug around. Initially, this was my biggest concern. After a couple of days afield with it, these concerns were buried. Yes, it was heavy, but not overly so. The additional weight helped with my swing as well as subdued the felt recoil from the hefty Kent FastSteel 3.5-inch #2’s I was shooting. These loads proved to be bad medicine for any goose that mistakenly found themselves in front of my pattern.
Field Testing the Stoeger M3500 Snow Goose Shotgun
I had the opportunity to spend the first two days of Arkansas’s Light Goose Conservation Order laying in the rice and soybean fields of central Arkansas with Keaton and Kendall Kelso of K&K Outfitters. Also joining me on this hunt was Keith Heinline, Lead Engineer at Stoeger, Mark Sidelinger of Direct Media, and my fellow writer, Alan Clemons. Our goal? Put the M3500 Snow Goose shotgun through the wringer. And that we did.
It didn’t take long once dawn broke before we had birds in the air, and lots of them. The first morning brought a beautiful sunrise, thousands of birds in the sky, and even a few small groups of snows that bombed right into the kill hole between the constant bombardment of speckelbellies. It seemed as though the specks knew the dark goose season had closed the day prior and they just wanted to taunt us with their victorious screech.
By early afternoon a “mega feed” had started on a neighboring field and drew every bird within miles. There was nothing we could do but sit and watch as thousands of geese were sucked into the off-limits field. As the day waned on, it became evident that our hunt for the day was over. With the looming forecast of a downpour, followed by an ice storm the following day, we did not have high hopes for the next day’s hunt. But that can change in a hurry.
An hour before dark, Keaton received a phone call from a local farmer. After hanging up he chuckled and said, “Do you guys want the full snow goose hunting experience?” I don’t think any of us knew exactly what that meant, but of course we were in. The local farmer had found a field that he claimed was covered with thousands of snow geese and had gotten permission for us to hunt it. With the sun setting and the rain beginning to spit, we tore down the spread of 800+ full-body and sock decoys as quickly as we could and hit the road.
It was well after dark when we arrived at the new field and the rain was not holding back. By the time we finished building the spread we were gassed, ready for a hot meal, and a few hours of sleep. I guess this was part of the “full experience” that Keaton had hinted at.
As I glanced at my onX app before we left the field, I realized we had just set up our spread on the banks of the famous Bayou Meto WMA. World renowned for its flooded timber duck hunting, I had high hopes the bayou would bring us a different kind of snowstorm come daybreak.
Our efforts were rewarded the following morning as several large flocks of light geese worked the spread to perfection and the Stoeger M3500 Snow Goose made them pay. The highlight of the hunt came mid-morning morning when we experienced a thousand or more geese tornado over the spread to their eventual demise. At the “kill ‘em” call, I emptied nine shells into the massive wall of snow geese, knocking down several. Talk about an adrenaline rush. The shooting continued through the late morning with many boxes of shells being fired and snow geese hitting the ground. Off and on rain, gusty winds, and shy birds summed up our afternoon, but the morning hunt was one I will never forget.
In total, we shot close to 25 boxes of shells in the two days of hunting with zero problems. With an MSRP of $929, and most major retailers selling it for $900, the Stoeger M3500 Snow Goose shotgun serves a very practical purpose without breaking the bank. Save the expense of buying an extended mag, and the abuse the spring season inevitably puts on your favorite shotgun, and grab yourself a Stoeger M3500 Snow Goose. Besides, who doesn’t need at least one more gun?