Hunting the Wind

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

or stop en route to Gulf Coast wintering grounds. Easy? Not in the least, but what part of waterfowl hunting is?

A key consideration is locating the major concentrations of snow geese that build up in Missouri. Northwest Missouri, near Mound City, historically has the largest concentration of snow geese in the state. Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge and, to a lesser extent, the nearby Bob Brown Conservation Area hold large concentrations of snow geese.

When temperatures plummet into the sub-zero range, and the shallow marshes freeze, the Iatan Power Generating Station in Platte County and Smithville Reservoir often attract large concentrations of snow geese. In west central Missouri, Schell-Osage, Montrose and Four Rivers conservation areas are likely snow goose locations.

Recently, large numbers of snow geese have appeared in southeast Missouri in the vicinity of Otter Slough and Ten Mile Pond conservation areas. This is a part of Missouri where snow geese were once rarely seen, but now a half million or more snow geese winter in the area. Snow geese use numerous other private, county or municipal lakes throughout the state. All of these areas provide important undisturbed open-water refuge areas for roosting and resting. Most of these areas have only limited snow goose hunting opportunity or do not allow hunting.

The best snow goose hunting occurs on private land in grain fields that surround snow goose concentrations. There are times when the geese may not leave the refuge areas regularly, thereby limiting hunting opportunities. Typically, goose behavior involves two feeding flights each day, usually each morning and afternoon. This is the time when the geese become most vulnerable to hunting.

The next order of business is locating feeding areas. Arm yourself with a full tank of gas, binoculars and county road maps. Feeder flocks may make flights as short as one-half mile to perhaps as far as 20 or more miles in search of food.

When you locate a field being used by the geese, carefully watch until they leave. Geese disturbed or frightened off a field will not likely return. Flocks also leave a field because the food source has been eliminated. When a field is "fed-out" it won't be used again.

Choose the field the birds last fed in when possible. Opt for large, open, isolated fields. The next option would be the nearest field with a similar food source. Since most snow goose feeding

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