Don’t sit around fussing about the weather and griping because duck season has ended. Get out and hunt some snow geese.

Don’t sit around fussing about the weather and griping because duck season has ended. Get out and hunt some snow geese.

Yeah, we know. Mallard hunters look with disdain at "sky carp," a prevalent nickname for snow geese. But we have them in February in Arkansas in large quantities. The game plan is simple – get a free permit by phone or online, load up and go find some geese, get permission to hunt them on private land, then hunt.

East Arkansas has large, sometimes very large, flocks of snow geese here and there. That’s part of the problem in hunting them, too. You can’t predict where they will be on any day. Scout around, find a bunch in a winter wheat field, get permission to hunt from the farmer or landowner, then you may be looking at nothing but winter wheat the following morning.

This snow goose thing is going on now, and it’s called a conservation order, not a hunting season. Control excessive numbers of snow geese is the idea. Overpopulation of snow geese is destroying their breeding grounds in the far north of Canada, and their numbers need to be reduced. Hunting is the chosen method of United States and Canadian authorities.

The regulations are relaxed so hunters can take as many snow geese as they can. There’s no daily bag or possession limit on light geese during the conservation order, guns do not have to be plugged, electronic calls can be used and shooting hours have been extended to a half hour before and after sunset.

The conservation order will run through April 25 for Arkansas and all other states, although the geese will be gone from Arkansas long before that.

The order includes snow geese, their darker colored family members, sometimes called blue geese and Ross’s geese, which look like small snow geese. These are all lumped into the category of "light geese" in contrast to Canada geese and white-fronted or specklebelly geese.

The requirements for hunting are a valid hunting license, either from Arkansas or from the hunter’s state of residence, and a special snow goose registration number. The hunting licenses can be either resident or non-resident. Hunters may get registration numbers, which are free, online at or by calling the AGFC toll-free at 800-364-4263 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

It’s is a unique situation for waterfowl hunters. For most species like mallards, Canada geese and pintails, the objective is to limit the harvest to protect the species. With snow geese, the objective is to maximize the harvest, and for exactly the same reason — to protect the species and other species associated with Arctic tundra habitat.

Many Arkansas snow goose hunters use large decoy spreads, hundreds of decoys that they set up where the geese have been seen feeding.

Others try stalking or jump shooting. It’s virtually impossible to sneak up on the snow geese in an open field, but one hit-or-miss technique is to spot the geese, drop off hunters to hide on one side of a field then someone drive to the opposite side and flush the geese. The idea, and yes, it sometimes works, is the geese may fly within range over the hunters hiding in a ditch or in brush.

The special snow goose conservation season began several years ago and continues this year in an effort to reduce the snow goose population by half from the present levels. Snow goose numbers have expanded more than 300 percent in the last three decades to a current population of about six million.


Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at