Good Morning Missouri
By PJ Maguire
It was mid-morning on a bright sunny, March day in Mound City, Missouri. Chris Coffey, J.D. and I had just ordered breakfast at a small diner. Seated and standing in the diner around us were camo-clad clients, make-up wearing waitresses and cracker-jack snow goose guides. The tail end of the snow goose migration was still staging on Squaw Creek and hunting had been good.
Naturally the conversation between the three of us drifted to snow geese and snow goose hunting, specifically decoying. These are the days when for the most part hunters use two different approaches when decoying snows. Some prefer smaller, more realistic spreads; others go for larger, easier to deploy decoy spreads. Most will agree that motion is a must.
Spring snow goose hunting is still a relatively new pursuit; many have tried new inventive ways to fool these birds. Some hunters have taken a few steps back in pursuit of these wary geese. Still in my opinion it is the best way to cure spring fever for the waterfowl hunter.
“Once I saw two hunters set up in a CRP field with fifty all white decoys and their truck parked in a tree line only twenty yards away.” Commented Chris. “Yeah, I have seen some crazy stuff.” Replied J.D. “Guys trying to pass-shoot high flying geese from ditches, using mirrors, cow suites or boards to sneak them. Stuff like that.”
“Personally, I have seen some stuff work that I didn’t think was going to work but did.” I added. “Once I was scouting in North Dakota a few years back when I spotted a small decoy spread set on a large dried up slough. I put my truck in park on a gravel road and glassed the spread with my binos. Two gentleman where hiding in the cattails, and I counted twenty full-bodied decoys for the spread.”
I paused for a moment and glanced outside at the bright sun. A friendly waitress stopped and freshened up our java.
“I was about to leave when I noticed a large train of migrating snow geese coming from the south.” I started again. “The first few large flocks kept going, but then some of the birds started to break up and shift. Then to my surprise, the geese started to tornado down. There was close to fifteen hundred birds circling above each other from the blue sky towards the earth. The taller birds pushing the lower birds lower and even lower with each circle. It took a minute or two, but soon enough I was thinking that the gunners should be taking them.” I paused and the three of us took a sip of coffee at the same time. “Then the front birds started folding out of the flock, and then I heard the distant gun shots. When it was over the two hunters went out and retrieved seven birds from the grey dried slough bottom.” “Nice! I love it when you see the birds fall before you here shots!” Exclaimed Chris. “Anything can happen and sometimes it does.” Said J.D.
Some days nothing works and some days everything works. I am a friend to a professional guide who has been in the game for some time; he thinks barometric pressure plays a role. Personally I cannot prove that it doesn’t.
That morning we discussed a few more aspects about spring snow goose hunting over bacon and eggs. The three of us agreed that an electronic call is better than a nice decoy spread, with no call. Chris added a quick story about shooting decoying snows with an e-call and no decoys in the fog. One thing we all agreed on, however, is nobody has seen it all and nothing suprises me anymore.
Later we paid and headed back out to see which direction the geese would fly from the refuge. The following morning in Missouri the three of us would again be patiently waiting the arrival of snow geese from a cornfield, hopefully producing a morning to remember over a future cup of coffer, bacon, and eggs.