Arkansas Goose Hunting

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Arkansas goose hunting
In the 1970s, only 2000 to 3000 white-fronted geese wintered in Arkansas each year. Populations have grown to hundreds of thousands in recent years.

Hanging from a lanyard around a waterfowl biologist's neck was a variety of callers for different species of waterfowl. The two that were used most on this Arkansas goose hunt were a specklebelly goose call and a snow goose call.

goose hunting dog
More and more hunters are pursuing geese in east Arkansas each year.

Until this day, this goose hunter had always wanted to kill a specklebelly, or greater white-fronted goose, but had never had an opportunity. That was one reason the waterfowl biologist invited this hunter to goose hunt with him. He knew this goose hunter wanted to bag one of these beautiful birds, and with dozens of specklebelly decoys placed in the field around his ground blind, he had enjoyed several good goose hunts here in recent days. The waterfowl biologist told the goose hunter chances were good that he would get his bird, and as it turns out, he was right.

The reason for the white-fronted goose’s “specklebelly” nickname is clearly evident in this photo and the goose hunting dog. The goose hunting dog sat at the end of the ground blind, scanning the early morning sky for birds. All was quiet for many minutes, and then in distance, they heard the first melodic strains of flying geese.

It was hard to pinpoint them at first, but after a minute or two, they could make out several small flocks. They were coming their way.

The goose calls of the specklebellies grew in volume. Their forms grew in size. They could tell now there were several dozen, and as the waterfowl biologist played a perfect rendition of their call notes, several held a steady course that would soon take them over their heads.

When the geese finally could see the goose decoys, they cupped their wings and began swinging back and forth in the air. Too late they realized the ruse, and seconds later, on the waterfowl biologists command, the goose hunting dog bolted from the ground blind and retrieved their kills. The goose hunter finally had his specklebelly, and before their Arkansas goose hunt was over, the waterfowl biologist and goose hunter would kill several snow geese as well. It was one of the most fun and satisfying hunts this goose hunter enjoyed in recent years.

More and more, Arkansas waterfowlers are pursuing the plentiful flocks of snow geese and white-fronted geese that winter in the flat farmlands of eastern Arkansas. Goose populations seem to grow more every season, offering an excellent alternative for wingshooters wanting more winter action.

snow geese
Goose hunting dog retrieves the goose for his owner.

Snow goose populations began mushrooming in the 1990s as winter wheat plantings expanded in Arkansas. Today they winter there in the hundreds of thousands, and it’s not uncommon to count 10,000 snow geese or more in a single section of land. They’re deteriorating breeding-ground habitat in the far north and worrying Arkansas wheat farmers. In response, the Game & Fish Commission allows a very liberal season with generous bag limits that typically runs from November into April.

White-fronted geese have joined the flocks of snow geese in ever-increasing numbers. Back in the 1970s the first small flocks of “specks” were seen in Arkansas. Only 2,000 to 3,000 wintered in the entire state then, but it’s now common to see hundreds, sometimes thousands, of specklebellies in a single field, with tens of thousands wintering in the vicinity of cities such as Stuttgart, Jonesboro, Wynne and Brinkley.

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