From taste to challenge, there's plenty to like about snow geese
Ask John Devney, and he'll tell you there's a lot to like about spring snow geese. Even the taste. "They're fabulous to eat," said Devney, senior vice president of Delta Waterfowl in Bismarck. "I find spring snow geese to be as fine a food resour...
Ask John Devney, and he'll tell you there's a lot to like about spring snow geese.
Even the taste.
"They're fabulous to eat," said Devney, senior vice president of Delta Waterfowl in Bismarck. "I find spring snow geese to be as fine a food resource as any other waterfowl. The only tragedy is they tend to be really difficult to pluck, but there would not be a better bird to roast than a spring snow goose."
An admitted duck hunting fanatic, Devney said he also has developed a passion for spring snow goose hunting in recent years. The challenge is part of it, he said; so is the opportunity to get outside and soak in those first days of spring.
"On days when it all works out, you're going to shoot a bunch of geese," Devney said. "One of the things I treasure is it's an opportunity to get some solid bird work done with my dog. And I love eating the things, but to be able to watch pintail courtship flights and to see the ducks and the speckle-bellies and the Canadas ... it's become sort of a rite of passage."
It's also a lot of work, Devney admits. A spring snow goose hunt often means getting up at 3 or 4 a.m. and being out in a wet, muddy field and set up among dozens, if not hundreds of decoys two hours before daylight.
Staying concealed, he said, is just as important as a massive decoy spread. That could mean grassy blinds or white coats and white face masks, depending on the lay of the land.
"Remember, we've got a bird that's getting hunted from August through May," Devney said. "In order to survive, they learn a few things and most commonly, you're not going to be able to throw them a curveball if you're standing out like a sore thumb."
Devney said he once joined the producers of an outdoors TV show to film an episode on spring snow goose hunting. He estimates they watched nearly 1 million birds pass overhead in three days of hunting.
"We shot one goose," Devney said. "We had probably no greater than 20 birds within 100 yards."
The learning curve has been "pretty steep," Devney said, but he traditionally has better success later in the spring, when the bulk of the migration has passed and smaller flocks of stragglers linger. These birds, he said, often are juveniles and easier to coax into shooting range.
Devney said the geese that pass through North Dakota tend to follow the James River near Jamestown north to Devils Lake before fanning out north and west. They also seem to favor harvested corn and soybean fields or temporary wetlands in pastures, he said.
Conditions typically are wet and muddy, Devney said, so hunters should be respectful of landowners and avoid rutting up fields or rural roads.
It's also important, he said, that snow geese be treated with the respect they deserve. Devney said the spring hunt has devalued the snow goose because so much emphasis has been placed on reducing the population.
"These birds do deserve our respect," Devney said. "They're incredibly cunning. They're amazing survivors. They deserve to be cleaned, prepared and eaten."
On the Web:
For more tips on hunting and cooking snow geese, check out the Delta Waterfowl website at www.deltawaterfowl.org
Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to email@example.com .