Hunting the Wind

The sun was barely visible on the horizon when what we thought were distant wisps of smoke turned into flock after flock of snow geese. The birds were fighting a 30-mile-an-hour head wind, and their exaggerated motion looked like waves on the water.

We had positioned ourselves in a large cornfield where, the day before, more than 25,000 geese had been feeding. That evening we asked the landowner for permission to hunt. In the darkness before sunrise, we put out our spread of 600 white windsock and rag decoys and chose the spots where we would wait for the geese.

We could hear the clamor of the hundreds of snow geese over the sound of our decoys snapping in the wind. The first wave of geese was a mere 10 yards high, 50 yards out front and closing fast. At this range it was easy to pick out the adult snows, pure white with black wingtips, and the contrasting colors of adult blues (the dark color phase of the snow goose) with their white heads and blue-gray bodies and wings.

Most of the first flock was made up of immature geese, the sooty gray snows and the dark gray blues. I strained to hear the closest hunter say "take 'em," but all I could hear was the din of hundreds of calling geese, a sound that has been likened to the yipping of a thousand fox terriers. Several of the lead birds settled to the ground, immediately disappearing into the white decoys. The other birds continued into the wind and were less than 20 yards away when the report of our shotguns made them flare away.

There was no time to gloat over our success, since the next wave of geese was on its final approach. This scene continued for the next two hours until we filled our 10-birds-per-hunter limits. As we picked up decoys, we shooed the snow geese still landing in our white spread.

Was this ultimate snow goose hunt in Texas or North Dakota or Canada? No, this hunt took place right here in Missouri. Snow goose hunting in Missouri can be fantastic, at times rivaling the best known areas of North America.

Many waterfowl hunters believe snow geese are difficult, if not impossible, to hunt with consistent results. Yet there exists a small fraternity that takes advantage of the thousands of snow geese that winter in Missouri