South Dakota is known for many things, Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, and the Black Hills to name a few. When it comes to wildlife there is no shortage of large herds of bison, deer, pronghorn, pheasant, and in some parts mass migrations of Snow Geese. With such large numbers, Snow Geese have become overpopulated thus requiring conservation orders which have increased the popularity of snow goose hunting South Dakota. Even though snow geese are waterfowl they can require a new level of skills, tactics, and equipment to fool. Which has increased the demand for snow goose hunting outfitters and guides in South Dakota. To help find the best one for you’re hunt we have put together a comprehensive list of the top guides.
Nomad Outfitters | Snow Goose Hunting South Dakota –
Rates – $150 Per Hunter
Chase Gartner cut his teeth chasing waterfowl in Nebraska and across the midwest. At the age of four Chase shot his first duck. Ever since that early beginning, Chase has been a waterfowl fanatic. The year after he graduated high school Chase began pursuing snow geese across the Rain Water Basin of Nebraska. Ever since that he has been pursuing spring migrator snow geese across Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, and of course South Dakota.
If you’re someone that wants to see a hunting dog in action. For Chase the offseason is spent training hunting dogs for field trials and hunt tests in Nebraska. From the end of January to April Chase and his group of guides are taking clients on once in a lifetime snow goose hunts. If you’re in pursuit of your first early snow goose hunt or you’ve had dozens of hunts. Nomad Outfitters is one of the premier guides for snow goose hunting, South Dakota.
Top Gun Guide Service | Snow Goose Hunting South Dakota –
Rates – $250 – $1,600 Per Hunter
Located out of Orono, MN, Top Gun Guide service is a premier hunting guide service for ducks, Canada geese, and snow geese. For over 15 years the guide service has put clients on top hunting spots throughout the Mississippi Flyway. They pride themselves on ensuring that they put together successful hunts for clients and an enjoyable experience. With an extensive supply of decoys, guides, land, and knowledge. Top Gun provides some of the best guided snow goose hunting South Dakota has to offer every year.
For over 8 months the guide crews scout and hunt the Mississippi Flyway. As a result, you can have the confidence in knowing they understand the lay of the land. The guides scout every day and ensure they have the proper permission for the fields snow geese are using. With the help of guides, they can move or relocate a hunt in just a few hours. Therefore, making sure they put you on the best possible chance for a great hunt.
Premier Flight Outfitters | Snow Goose Hunting South Dakota –
Rates – $190/day per hunter
For Premier Flight Outfitters Spring Snow Goose hunting starts in Northeastern Arkansas and moves with the migration to South Dakota. South Dakota has become a top snow goose destination since it’s one of the first locations on the migration back North. Therefore, there is lower hunting pressure making them a little easier to hunt and decoy. Premier Flight guides out of just about every state in the migration of snow geese. Here there is an abundant supply of wheat and rice that the snow geese tend to feed on.
The hunting area is located between White River and Cache River. This produces some of the best opportunities for snow goose hunting South Dakota. Premier’s team has the staff and gear to put out spreads over 1,500 decoys and hunts can produce anywhere from 30-100 birds in a given day. Much depends on the weather and day. However, that’s waterfowl hunting no matter where you go. If you do have the chance to hunt and shoot over 100 birds in a day, you’ll be hooked for life. Premier Outfitters has access to over 20,000 acres of prime land, and they work around the clock to produce and scout the very best fields for every group who hunts with them.
As for lodging, Premier Flight teams up with a local duck club that offers sleeping for up to 14 hunters. There are also some local hotels that can also give way for a nights rest before you head out to shoot some snow geese.
Banded Gand’r Outfitters | Snow Goose Hunting South Dakota –
Rates – $155-165/day per hunter
Starting in late March to late April along the Lake Thompson DeSmet areas Banded Gand’r Outfitters is targeting snow geese. This is a major staging area for spring snow geese as they funnel through the Mississippi and Central Flyways. If you’re looking for an experience where every day is different and there is no predictability, then this is the hunt for you. Some days these birds will seem like the smartest bird to survive and others you’ll be filled with a lap full of shells.
It’s by far one of the most additive hunting experiences to encounter when there is a tornado of snow geese circling your head. Snow goose hunting is an unpredictable species that requires a lot of gear and hunting. Typically Banded will hunt the morning flight until it quits, then take a break for lunch and hit the blind again in the evening for the late flight. It’s best to pack food and drinks to keep yourself comfortable and in for the long haul. Banded Gand’r spends an incredible amount of time scouting to ensure their clients are in the right spot at the opportune time to kill geese. They lease over 4,000 acres ensuring that they can be on the best premium land without competition.
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If you’re looking for a once in a lifetime experience to chase some snow geese in South Dakota with a great group of guides. Banded Gand’r is going to be a fantastic choice for a very inexpensive price.
As one of the most abundant North American species of geese. Snow Geese are usually referred to as light geese. Snow Geese numbers have thrived over the years so much as to that they have become one of the most abundant waterfowl species in North America. However, it wasn’t always this way at one time in the early 1900’s Snow Geese were off limits to hunting. However, as the numbers increased they were allowed to hunt in 1975. Learning more about the species gives a better appreciation for them and helps to understand Snow Geese.
Snow Goose Coloration –
When it comes to Snow Geese there are two different colorations. First is the white phase or “snow” and the second is referred to as the blue phase when the geese appear blue/gray. A Snow Goose that is in the white phase is usually all white with black tipped wings. Whereas the blue morph phase snow geese are all a slate grayish blue color, and their head has little to no white in it. Prior to 1972 these two where separate species, however, since then they have been combined to both be referred to as Snow Geese.
There is, however, two subspecies the lesser and larger snow goose. The lessers live from Central Canada to the Bering Straits. Whereas, the larger species nest in northeast Canada.
Snow Goose Breeding –
Beginning the end of May to early June, Snow Geese begin nesting. The females tend to nest in shallow nests and she will sit on the nest for 20-25 days until the eggs hatch. Snow Goose younglings are very developed when they hatch and are mobile in the first few hours of birth. After 40-50 days they will begin to learn how to fly until then they are closely protected by their mother and father from predators.
Snow Geese tend to form long-term partners which are formed in the second year of their life. However, they won’t begin breeding until the third year of life. Females tend to return to the place of their birth to nest and breed themselves. Most breeding occurs in Northern Canada in the tundra and prairie regions where trees cannot grow.
Snow Goose Migration –
Since Snow Geese breed and nest in May to August in the far North Arctic tundra of Canada. They spend nearly six months migrating to and from warm weather each season. Snow Geese can migrate as far as 3,000 miles from the tundra to wintering areas. They also tend to migrate in huge numbers at times the size of the birds migrating at one time can even be seen on doppler radar systems.
Much of the lesser snow geese travel along the Central, Pacific, and Mississippi Flyways. Whereas, the larger snow geese migrate on the Atlantic Flyway. As Snow geese migrate they tend to feed in what some call a frenzy across farmland. Which is another reason why a conservation order has been in place to help control the population every spring.
Snow Goose Population –
Snow Geese numbers were quite low in the early 1900’s. However, they have been able to bounce back in large numbers. Today the population is estimated to exceed over 15 million and it has grown 3X since the mid-1970’s. As of today, the population has been growing at a rate of 5% even after a conservation order is in place. The species have seemed to thrive each year even though they take such a long migration path.
Snow Goose Conservation Order –
It’s hard to believe that Snow Goose hunting was banned in the early 1910’s because the population was so low. Hence, they have thrived to such great numbers that in the late 1990’s they discovered that the Snow Geese had reached such high numbers. The Snow geese were destroying their very own nesting and breeding grounds. The Tundra and Arctic breeding grounds where being overeating and destroyed. Due to the number of snow geese habiting them.
Therefore, Ducks Unlimited, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Canadian Wildlife Service got together to find a solution to help protect the tundra and the species. As a result, a conservation order was ordered in 1997. However, it was federally mandated in 1999. Hunting hours were exceeded, bag limits were increased to even unlimited, even the tools and gear required to hunt Snow Geese were relaxed. Giving hunters no plus in their shotguns and electronic callers. As a result, Spring Snow Geese season became a waterfowl hunters top reason to extend their season.