South Dakota Snow Geese Hunt

<(INTRO) Thanks for tuning into KSL Outdoors and welcome to the largest outdoor expo in Utah, the International Sportsmen's Expo kicked off on Thursday and runs through tomorrow. Later on in the show, we'll give you a tour of this years expo, but first, we want to take you on a spring snow goose hunt. A few buddies and I guide elk hunters each fall, but every spring we load up the Ford and drive 14 hours to hunt lesser snow geese with our friend Dan of Goosehog Outdoors.">

Our destination, Mitchell, South Dakota, almost 1000 miles away. That’s where we meet up with our goose guide Dan Hogfoss.

<(Dan Hogfoss, Goose Hog Outdoors) "I started hunting snow geese with my dad and brother and I guess I got addicted. They are pretty easy thing to get addicted to. Once you have your first big day, you just want more and more.">

<(Randy "mort" Lamborne) "it's a beautiful day.">

Hunting snow geese in South Dakota is so much different than hunting snows back home. In Utah, we might get 30 to 50 thousand geese migrating north. In South Dakota, it’s not uncommon to see hundreds of thousands of snow geese migrating through the state. The annual spectacle is a sight to behold.

<(Dan) There are days where you can see 5-6 hundred thousand birds migrating from the south, plus the staged birds that are here. You'll see more snow geese in a day here than you will in Utah all season.">

<(Trevor Gillman) "big wade of them coming." (dan) "is there?">

Getting them to decoy, and my buddies to actually hit them, well that’s another story.

<(Guide) "take them." (shots) (mort laughing)>

<(Adam) "what happened Warner?">

<(Warner) "missed.">

South Dakota used to have a limit of 20 snow geese per day, but this year, south Dakota lifted the limit, allowing hunters to take as many snows as they want.

<(Rocco Murano, South Dakota Waterfowl Biologist) they are a great bird and they are wonderful game bird. The problem is their breeding ground. There is basically an over abundance of the geese on their breeding grounds. And they tundra they breed on, simply cannot regenerate as fast as it is being utilized by the geese. They go through and root out the grass and roots and that tundra takes many years to re-generate. The colony keeps expanding outward and basically depleting the resources on those breeding grounds. (adam) "are hunters making any difference?" (rocco) "it's unclear, the survival rates of snow geese since the conservation order in the late 90's which is the spring hunt, has actually increased.">

South Dakota allows unplugged shotguns and electronic callers all in an effort to increase the harvest.

<(Dan) "No limits are great, but it gives everybody high expectations. (adam) when it can actually be tough some times. (dan) Yes.">

<(DAn) "kill them right there." (shots and bird flies past camera) (dan) "got another one going down, watch that goose.">

<(Dan) "Typically if you come early, if you've never seen a snow goose migration. It's always good to see one time. Come early you get to see all the birds, all the ducks, the canada's the white fronts. The later you come, it's the more juvenile birds, easier to kill.">

<(Dan) the spring snow goose hunt has turned into a great way to fill in March, because there isn't a whole lot of hunting that goes on in March.>

<(Dan) guys start them in Texas on the gulf coast and they get hunted all the way into Canada in the springtime. (adam) By the time they reach S. Dakota, they've seen a lot of spreads? (dan) they seen a ton of spreads, every year these birds learn a little more and get a little older.>

<(Gilman) "are you on him Eakle?" (adam) "take him.">

<(Adam Tag) "so you have a couple of choices to make if you are going to come and chase the snow goose. One, come early and you see those thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of birds headed north to Canada or if you come a little later, you don't see as many birds, but you do see a lot more juveniles which are a little more easier to decoy, maybe get your bird count up a little higher. Coming up on KSL Outdoors, we are back in the goose fields for some more hunting, but first tonights quiz question.">


<(Dan) "i've seen a lot of things, lot of things have changed snow goose hunting. They are getting to be a little bit tougher bird, but we still keep trying to adapt as much as we can.">

<(Dan) "We've started to use rotary machines, flapper decoys, bigger spreads, tried to hide the blinds better. All sorts of things to try and get these older birds to work better. (adam) "Used to be a lot easier then? (dan) "used to be a lot easier.">

<(Chris) "kill that pair right in front of you guys.">

<(Rocco) "they are difficult to hunt, they are a very frustrating bird. They are very smart and have a lot of eyes. So you have to have a very convincing decoy spread and even when you think you have a hot field, it's not a sure bet.">

Even though we are getting thousands of birds right over the top of us, only a few out of each flock are coming to take a look.

<(Mort) "we don't get some of these geese, you owe me dinner Eakle.">

<(Dan) "get him." (shots)>

Dan has been guiding snow goose hunters for nearly a decade and says this years weather is making this season the toughest he’s ever had. A majority of the geese are driving north into North Dakota and Southern Canada, by passing their normal staging grounds.

<(Dan) we had a 55 degree day in January in Fargo this year. When our typical high is -10. >

<(Dan) this year is an abnormal year, here in the Dakotas, the last winter we had was horrible. >

<(Dan) we had very little snow somewhere around 12 inches throughout the winter and today it's almost 70 degrees which they say is going to stay but is not normal. >

<(Dan) The migration is messed up, a lot of birds came fast, there's still birds strung out all the way to the gulf coast.>

Dan says they typically get 20-30 birds a day per spread. Our trip is three days into the hunt and we’ve bagged only 25 birds. Dan was visibly frustrated, even called some of his clients that were due to hunt next week and advised them to reschedule for next year. A good guy, a good guide that gives it to you straight.

<(Dan) I charge 595.00 for a two and a half day hunt, per person. That includes hunting, land access, decoys, and electronic callers and a guide. You provide, your lodging, your license and your food and how to get here.">

Dan says his service is mainly for guys that don’t have their own gear, if you do and want to come out, he says, it can be done.

<(Dan) "landowners here are really receptive to hunting snow geese. Most of the farmers know there are too many of them and they want them gone.">

<(Dan) Land access you can get it pretty easy. knock and ask. The one thing is though if you don't have the equipment, it's good to go guided. Tthen you don't have to walk around snow goose decoys when you only use them a couple of times. (adam) and the other thing, if you are going to be asking, you'd better have a four wheeler. (dan) Yes, got to have a four wheeler and some way to transport the decoy, I use sleds.">

We may not have killed a bunch of birds, but we still had a blast watching the blizzard of wings on their way to Canada. Would I go back, you bet. But I’d watch the weather a little closer, hope for some snow to hold the birds and definitely give Dan another call.

<(Mort) "alright.">

<(Adam tag) "so do you need to hire a guide, really Dan says no you don't. If you have your own decoy spread, you know 4 or 5 hundred, willing to bring up a four wheeler and the gumption to knock on a few doors, you are probably going to get a chance to hunt snow geese here in South Dakota. A lot different scale than it is back home in Utah, that's for sure. Hey lets head back home now to the guys at Fish Tech for tonights fishing report.">

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