A last minute family sickness opened up a shooting position and secured me an invitation on a guided Snow Goose hunt near the Squaw Creek NWR . I was excited to be going as the bird population had ballooned to over 1.2 million in the last few days prior to our hunt date on the 16th . I had read ,in the paper, an interview with the manager of Squaw Creek where he pointed out that peak numbers of birds usually occurred around the 15th of March . The existing record of 1.7 million birds was in danger of being eclipsed . We met the outfitter at 5 a.m. and was greeted with the news that the bird population had surged past 2 million birds . To say our hopes were high would be an understatement . Two million birds in the area. It had to be a good sign or so we thought . Our guide told us they had worked till 2 a.m. putting out the 1600 decoys we were going to hunt over that morning . He said birds had fed in the field the previous evening and they had gone in after them and set up right on the X. It appeared on the surface that everything was lining up for a bang up no holds barred hunt. Our soaring anticipation was quickly throttled as Mother Nature quickly stepped in to protect her own . Temperatures the previous day had been in the low 70s and had dropped to 26 when we entered the field . Twenty six degrees by itself is no problem , but coupled with a steady 35 to 40 mph gale that was blowing made the bottom of the layout blind with the doors pulled shut the only bearable place to be . We waited well past daylight to get our first glimpse of birds headed our direction . The birds coming our way had to fly directly into that howling north wind and literally gave up and started going down in a field about a mile and a half south of us . We could see the huge vortex they created as they swirled around and down short stopping our hopes for the morning. I think we all realized we had been dealt a bad hand and unless something or someone dislodged them from that field we were pretty much screwed. By 11a.m. most of the birds had returned to the refuge and we headed to town for lunch and a tour around . Everyone in the hunting party was interested in seeing what 2 million + birds looked like . Well I think everyone was pretty amazed at the sight and sound of that many waterfowl in one area. After killing a few hours we headed back to the field in anticipation of the promised 3 p.m. flight . Three o clock soon became four and suddenly it was six thirty and not a goose had shown . We could legally shoot till 8:02 but with the sun setting at 7:32 we were quickly running out of daylight . Finally the first line of birds appeared and immediately took an interest in our presentation. The guide let the numbers build and the birds were soon swirling above us . A deafening white tornado of birds enveloped us . Kill`em he screamed out so that everyone could hear him over the roar of the birds . It appeared to be raining geese out of the sky . We had a couple more chances at the birds before our hunt ended in a great flurry of action . Its funny how inspite of spending 8 hours in a cold uncomfortable layout blind I was looking forward to the excitement of capping off next season with another trip to the Snow Goose Mecca. Have a great day .
A tiny portion of the two million geese on Squaw NWR
You will know your in snow goose country when you pass by this memorial to another of Americas favorite pastimes . Craig Mo. just north of the refuge .