Hunting Eastern Snow Geese in NC, Feb. 15
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Any day that a waterfowler has more than 1,000 geese over the decoys is a good day, and that is exactly what can happen when hunting snow geese in coastal North Carolina during the February Conservation Season. This season starts after regular duck and goose seasons have closed. This special season permits mechanical calling, unplugged guns, allows a generous limit of birds per hunter (20-25 birds, can change each season) and some of the best shooting that most modern waterfowl hunters will ever see.
Putting out for snows is a specialized art that require daily scouting, large numbers of decoys, specialized equipment and access to large areas where the birds either rest or feed. Most consistent shooting occurs in feeding areas. If a rest pond is shot, then the birds may not return there for days. Aaron Mathews, of Fourth Generation Outfitters of Curritick (www.duckquacks.com) takes from six to eight hunters out each day during the February season and will book either individuals or groups. Results vary according to the weather, and it is best to hunt a couple of days to increase your potential for having a good flying day. He can be reached by telephone at (252) 453-8243 (home) or (252) 619-2880 (cell).
The geese are easiest to call when there are low clouds or fog. When the sky is clear, they can see the decoys very well. Then the shooting is more likely to be restricted to the first
few hours of the day and rapidly taper off. The guns will always have chances at some birds, and Mathews said that the average bag is two or three birds per hunter. However, a good day can provide much better shooting.
Mathews takes hunters of all ages and family groups are encouraged. The birds can be taken with 20-gauge guns loaded with HeviShot, although he prefers that his adult hunters use 3 or 3 1/2-inch 12 or 10-gauge guns loaded with steel BBs, BBBs or T shot – whatever your gun and choke combination shoots best. Always pattern your shotgun before you go. Many shotguns will shoot low with these heavy shot charges, and you will undershoot or only fringe hit your birds.
These North Carolina snows are excellent eating, and Mathews will breast them out for you to take home. I will post a video on YouTube on cleaning and cooking these birds. In the meantime here are a couple of easy recipes:
Aaron’s Shake & Bake Snow Geese
Approximately 1-pound snow goose breast (three breast halves)
1/2-cup Ranch Dressing
1 packet of Shake & Bake seasoning
Marinate snow goose breasts in Ranch Dressing. Bread using the Shake & Bake seasoning packet. Cook in oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. The breasts are best if still pink in the middle.
Darin “Gator” Walker’s Irish Whisky Grilled and Baked Snow Geese
6 Snow Goose breast halves
1/2 cup of Irish Whisky
1/2 cup of Italian Dressing
6 strips of bacon
Soak Snow Goose breast in marinate (dilute with water to cover) overnight. Before cooking remove and allow to drain dry. Wrap in bacon strip and grill over charcoal until browned, but not done. Brush again with marinate and put in oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Again, the breast are best if still pink in middle. While snow geese are cooking put marinate into pot and reduce volume by about 25 percent by boiling. Serve boiled marinate as a dip with the goose breasts.