By: Barry Schindle
Premier Flight Guide Service
A snow goose guide is somewhat a wandering gypsy; they follow the migration starting in the southern states and chase the snows and blues until they are just out of reach across the Canada border.
It takes a special breed to do this kind of work; it's not your 9-5 office job. A good guide is not someone that just started out one day and decide he was going to be a "hunting guide"... nope, he worked his way through the system starting probably as a grunt working for another guide and worked his way through the ranks until he was a head guide. Good guides are not born; they are carefully groomed to know how to run a good safe hunt and to keep the customer happy since that is our #1 goal.
A snow goose guides typical day will usually begin two hours before the first flight of snow geese leaves the roost pond. He is setting decoys and getting blinds and e-callers(link to snow persuader) ready for the days hunt. After everything is all set and ready to go he gives the big talk to the days hunters. A good snow goose guide knows what is going to keep the hunt safe and the hunters happy. These are words to live by in the goose spread since there is little room for error when running a safe goose hunt. In my spread they are the laws of the land and mistakes result in hunters being asked to leave the field. Once everyone is loaded up and the sweet music starts blaring from the Snow Persuader E-caller(link?) it is time for the show to start as thousands of birds start off the roost ponds. Hunts typically last from sunrise to sunset with a break in the middle of the day for the guides and snow goose hunters to grab a bite to eat in town or on the grill in the trailer. This also allows one of the guides to break from the group to start scouting for the next day's field. While one guide stays with the group one guide will spend his afternoon scouting fields for the next day racking up hundreds of miles of windshield time in the process.
After the hunt is over for the day the guide's job is far from over, usually it is time to pull and move the spread to the next days field. This process of pulling up to 1,200 snow goose decoys can take 2-4 hours. It is quite common for us to call it a night around midnight after picking up and moving the spread to a new field for the next days goose hunt. Like mentioned we are kind of gypsies, often we do not retire to a hotel room that might be a 20-minute drive each way. Instead we throw down the mattresses in the trailer and crawl into the sleeping bag for a short 5-hour nap.
Another key component to a successful snow goose guide is how he hides his hunters; there are two important things to consider when selecting a blind for spring snow goose hunts. How well can the blind be hidden and how comfortable is the blind. The first thing is important since you may have thousands of birds circling down into your spread and a monster blind that sticks out like a sore thumb might be what the geese see and flare off your snow spread. Another thing to consider is how comfortable is the blind since you will be spending up to 12 hours a day in the blind starring up into the sky watching for approaching flocks of snow geese. I have hunted out of practically every blind made and have settled on the Final Approach X-lander blinds, these are the most comfortable blinds I have hunted out of and are also the lowest profile blinds available today. I am also going to be trying the pro-landers which is the big brother to the x-lander blind this year for the slightly bigger hunters, it is still a low profile blind but offers just a little more room inside to accommodate those plus size hunters.
Make sure in the field to have you're blind properly mudded and stubble up each day in the field. Remember covering your blind 100% with corn stocks might not be the best option. Stand up on the rail of your truck and look down at the field from a goose prospective, not what you see from ground level. This is a very different view, from ground level you might just see a sea of golden brown corn stalks, but from above their might be more dirt exposed in the field then you realize and a big 4'x6' block of solid corn stubble is going to look out of place in the field from above.
Remember that you are a guest in the field and a pop bottle or pile of empty shotgun shells left in the field for the farmer to pick-up might possibly result in the next hunter asking to hunt being turn down. Also respect the their fields and if it is muddy in the spring don't rut them up or drive in them after they had asked you not to. It is all snow goose hunters and guides responsibility to leave the field as we found it so that permission is always available for future hunters.