Arkansas Goose Hunting

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snow goose hunting
Snow goose flocks containing many thousands of birds are a common sight these days in east Arkansas farmlands.

While the geese are super-abundant, hunting public land opportunities are not. There are rarely enough grain fields to attract geese on a regular basis to wildlife management areas, and the national wildlife refuges with decent goose populations—Wapanocca, Bald Knob, Cache, White River and Big Lake—are closed to goose hunting during most or all of the season. Therefore, most ardent goose hunters must turn to private lands for their bounty because that’s where most geese are concentrated.

Hiring a goose hunting guide is one option for private-lands hunting. Goose hunting guides know the best ways to hunt these birds. They lease large tracts of land where geese are likely to be feeding during winter, so there’s no problem with access. Best of all, goose hunting guides do all the work. The goose hunter need not spend endless hours scouting, doing the legwork to gain hunting permission and setting out/retrieving goose decoys. For a reasonable fee, reputable goose hunting guides do all this.

Most Arkansas goose hunting guides are concentrated around Stuttgart. It’s more difficult finding goose hunting guides in the northeast Delta, but a web search using the term “Arkansas goose hunting” will turn up many.

Despite the work involved, many goose hunters prefer goose hunting on their own. If you’re in that category, here are tips to get you started.

First, scout and talk with landowners. Secure permission to hunt farms you think geese will use during the coming winter. Many farmers lease fields for goose hunting or goose hunt the land themselves. But geese sometimes damage wheat crops, and if you take time to ask, many landowners will grant permission for you to goose hunt if plans are made before the season.

goose decoys
Full-bodied white-fronted goose decoys helped draw birds close to the blind the author hunted from last season.

Obtain permission to goose hunt several fields if possible. You never know where geese will be each day during goose hunting season.

When the goose hunting season opens, pinpoint goose flocks. With luck, some will be feeding in areas you have permission to goose hunt. If not, find out who owns land the birds are using, and see if they'll grant goose hunting permission.

Study goose movements throughout the season, identifying feeding places, loafing areas, roosting sites and flyways between each. Geese select feeding fields at random, but when they start using a field, they continue coming back until food is gone. If you had no luck goose hunting them on one area, you may get a better chance when they move to a new feeding site. Or, if they fly over or near your goose hunting sites when traveling between roosting and feeding areas, you may be able to lure them to your hunting area using goose decoys and goose calling.

White-fronts often associate with flocks of snow geese, so most goose hunters use the same goose decoys and decoy spreads used for snow goose hunting, adding a few white-front imitations at the edge of the spread. Many prefer white-trash-bag goose decoys filled with rice straw, or white rags staked down with wooden pegs. Spreads of 500 or more aren't unusual, and most goose hunters supplement the makeshift goose decoys with a few wind socks, silhouettes, shells and full-bodied goose decoys. Space the goose decoys five to 10 feet apart to create the appearance of a relaxed feeding flock. This spacing also leaves room for approaching geese to land.

If you have permission, you may want to put a put a ground blind in your goose hunting spot, but properly camouflaged hunters can simply lay down in the goose decoys without being detected. In snow goose decoy spreads, goose hunters wear white smocks, coveralls or old sheets and become, in effect, part of the goose decoy spread. Be positioned to shoot toward the downwind side of the goose decoys, because this is the direction from which geese generally come.

No matter how you hunt them, snow geese and specklebellys provide unexpected thrills at every turn. Hunting them is a great way to enjoy the outdoors this winter. So start preparing now for the season ahead.

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