Friday, March 11, 2011

Northern Migration

The unusually cold and snowy winter slightly delayed the winter goose migration, but last week as temperatures warmed-up, millions of geese started their trek north and had concentrated near Mound City, Missouri.  When reports surfaced that Snow Goose counts at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge had exploded from 173,000 on February 21st to nearly 2,000,000 on March 8th, we had no choice but to do some northward migration of our own!
It didn't take much arm twisting to find a group of guys willing to meet in Missouri to chase Snows during the Conservation Order.  During the Light-Goose Conservation Order (Feb.1-Apr.30) there is no bag limit on Snow, Blue, or Ross's geese.
The state of Missouri has found a way to capitalize on the extended season and requires hunters to purchase a "Conservation Order Permit".  Sounds easy enough, but beware the permit costs non-residents $40 and anyone born after Jan. 1, 1967 must have proof they have completed an approved hunter's safety education course on file with the Conservation Department (actually on file, you have to fax a copy of card!).  The permit deal is a cluster and speaking from experience, you better start the process early because it's a pain.

The father-son duo of Jim and Peter Browning proved to be a great asset on the trip.  The Browning family tree has roots in Mound City, MO and Jim has 40+ years waterfowl hunting experience in the area.  One of the fields we hunted was once owned by the Browning Family, but ownership was lost during the Great Depression.  Peter proved to be a worthy adversary in our afternoon corncob fights and a source of entertainment while waiting for geese to fly.          
Seeing two million geese at once was an amazing sight, almost as amazing was visiting the Mound City Waterfowl Hall-of-Fame!   While our migration was only for a few days, we are already making plans for next year.  The off-season should give Bill enough time to study his waterfowl identification handbook!   

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