Thursday, May 1, 2014

2014 Spring Snows!

What a snow goose season!  We wrapped up the 2014 snow goose season and what a season it was.  This season will go down as the craziest and most difficult season that we've faced.  We were reminded that Mother Nature is in control at ALL times!  She pounded us with 2 big storms but with the great crew that we have, we overcame everything she threw at us! 
The second storm, Storm Titan, really threw us a curveball.  This was the storm that halted the migration from getting to Mound City until March 8th.  We started our hunting in Arkansas this year and were having good success until Titan rolled through and dumped 3" of snow and ice on us.  For us "northern boys" from Minnesota that isn't anything, just a dusting!  But for the people of Arkansas that is Armageddon!!!  It shut the hole NE part of the state down for a week and I'm serious too!  There are only a handful of plows in that area so the roads were all ice and snow covered and people were stuck everywhere.  After 3 days of dealing with the total shutdown of the NE part of the state we loaded up and headed north to Mound City anticipating a good push of birds into Squaw Creek.  The first 40-50 miles on the interstate were spent going 5-10 mile per hour!  The drive was horrible until we crossed into Missouri and then the sun was shining and the roads were clear.  You could just feel everyone's spirits lift! 
When I say it was a difficult season most our hunters won't know how hard it was on both the equipment and the guys.  Every field in NW MO was frozen solid and when you run 1500+ windsocks in a field, that means you have to drill 1500+ holes with a drill bit to get the decoys in the ground!  It took 8 hours to set the first field but the time improved on other fields after we figured out a "system"!  It made for late nights and early mornings! 
As for the hunting...  This year would be best described as the year of consistent hunting.  We had a couple 5-10 bird shoots but majority of our hunts were around 20-30 geese per field which is a typical snow goose hunt.  Even when we had a hot feed field holding 10,000 strong, we still only killed 27 off of it.  It was a weird season in Mound City with our best day being 63 and that was in an afternoon shoot.  We always swing for a homerun when it comes to snow goose hunting but this year it seemed we were getting base hit after base hit!  There was one field that we hot set the night before and it was a great zone with feeds all over and birds feeding heavily in our field.  I took a good group out there the next morning and nothing!  Not even 1 goose killed off the hot set that should've killed a pile on most years!  We recovered well in the afternoon and killed 22 but in most years that field should have had a monster day.  This years hunting although it started later than normal, it went a lot longer than usual in the Mound City area.  We usually are heading north to South Dakota around the 18th of March but this year there were still over 1.3 million on Squaw Creek at that time!  That aloud us to run guys longer in Missouri and not have to go and battle the cold, wet muddy conditions in SoDak. 
Unfortunately we did postpone a couple groups this year because the lack of birds at those dates.  This is the first year we've ever had to postpone anyone's hunt and we felt horrible about it.  Everyone that hunts with us knows we are straight shooters that tell the truth about the hunting.  We treat our hunters like we'd like to be treated by an outfitter and unfortunately the hunting wasn't up to our standards with goose numbers at an unhuntable number at that time.   Most the guys understood and believe me when I say that we want to kill them just as bad as all of you guys do! 
Once again I would like to thank all our hunters that came and hunted with us this year.  We are truly blessed to have all the fun and enjoyable groups that come and hunt with us.  We had most of our groups return from last year and we added a bunch of newbie groups!  Its no secret that our service is built on repeat hunters and we hope that these new groups will continue to come and enjoy hunting with us in the years to come. 
I also need to thank all the guys that bust their butts for us!  Bob, Mike, Adam, Dan and Jeremy.  These guys work their fingers to the bone and go on about 3 hours of sleep a night during the spring season.  They never complain... OK maybe they complain a little, but then they put their heads down and get the job done!  Most people don't understand the work it takes to do this.  At sport shows everyone always tells us we have the best jobs in the world (and we do!) but majority will never see the behind the scenes effort it takes to put guys on good hunts.  There's the obvious of stubbling blinds, scouting and setting spreads.  But there are the things that people don't see, late night hot sets till 1:00 am or when a storm comes through and has 50+ mph winds and knock over majority of the decoys and everyone wakes up at 2:30 am to fix them after going to bed at midnight because we hunted until dark and still had to charge batteries, feed dog and then find something to eat ourselves!  Or when a snow storm dumps 5 inches of snow and we have to dump all the snow out of the windsocks.  There is always something that comes up and our guys hardly ever have a day off.  They are a great group of guys and we couldn't do this without them!  Thanks fellas!!!
Here are just a handful of the many pictures we have from this season...
This is the view from our office!
Shooting for the Moon!

Afternoon Shoot

Refuge on 3-21-2014


 Wes, Mike, Terry and Cole with 28 geese
Warted Up Ross

Start of ANOTHER tornado


Major Spin!

1 guy, 1 flock!!!  Not to bad if you ask me!

Couple of picks from this year

Refuge on 3-11-2014

The Crew
Adam, Dan, Mike and Bob

Peek a Boo!

First goose of the 2014 season!

There are tons more pics that I'll put up on the blog as the summer goes on just to remind everyone how much we are all missing hunting!  Now we are looking forward to hunting some turkeys, fishing walleyes and crappies and finding some morel mushrooms!  Then its time to start thinking about canadas again...
Just an FYI, memberships are due the beginning of August and if not paid by the 15th go up for sale to the public.  We also are starting to book 2015 snow goose hunts June 1st to the public so those that have hunted in the past have first dibs until then to book your days.  After June 1st anyone can snatch them up so don't delay!!!  I'll be posting more often than I have lately so keep checking back for updates.  Until then have a great spring and we'll see you all this fall!!!