It has been almost three months since we returned from goose hunting in Arkansas. It was, to say the least, a goose hunting adventure that was unequaled in my now 65 years.
I knew I was in for a wild ride when on opening day, November 16th, we had geese landing in the decoys. The score at the end of the hunt was 65.
By the end of November we had some very impressive hunting, but in no way did we know what was in store for us in December. The week of December 15th is traditionally the best time to goose hunt. There are several factors which collide to make the hunting best. The weather is usually favorable, the third wave of the migration fully arrives, and the excitement of the holiday season normally puts clients in a fantastic mood.
Then, December 21st happened. In my 65 years I have never experienced the thrill of a hunt like this. We took some young guys out on a Thursday morning. They were the kind of clients that didn't care if we saw a bird or not; these guys were just happy to have a day off and be together with buddies. You could feel their excitement when the spread was finished and the birds started to appear. We laid in the field under the natural cover and couldn't help but be completely in awe of what nature had in store for us.
The White Tornado started. The whirl of the birds was quite a site. The young clients were frozen in the thrill of the moment. Their faces looked like they just saw Santa Claus for the first time. As we all grabbed our shotguns, and I started calling the shot, I was pleased that they also were fantastic shots. The birds fell, one after another. The cold, brisk air blistered all our cheeks. We couldn't stop smiling....or shooting. There were so many birds that morning, I didn't even get a chance to tell some of my best jokes. The luck of December was proving true and we were in the midst of the best hunt of my lifetime. We shot the last speckle belly at 9a and we started counting what the dogs retrieved. All ten of us were in shock when we counted the birds...30 speckle bellies and 200 snow geese. For a ten man hunt, that's 23 birds per person.
As the goose numbers soared, the hunting just got better and better and better. In the month of December, we averaged 40 birds a hunt. That's a phenomenal average of eight birds per man. As you read this, you're probably thinking, "that doesn't sound like much." You have to remember, we hunt every single day of the season. When I'm talking averages, I am including even the beautiful, clear day two-bird hunts. This is the regular season with plugged shotguns and no E-Caller, all shot over decoys and most within 30 yards. Our hunts in November and December ended around 9a. That means we limited out on Specks before lunch. There was no need to hunt all day. It was phenomenal. Hunting in December never disappoints.
This not an anomaly. This is just how good the hunting is in the regular season and will continue to be.
In my professional opinion, there are a couple of reasons the hunting is just better in Northeast Arkansas. The first reason is Mississippi flyway waterfowl are not hunted starting in the Dakotas and Wisconsin as heavily. By the time the birds make it to Arkansas they really are almost virgin birds. The second reason is the farmers in Arkansas have a more conservation-style farming. The fields are healthier, filled with better nutrients, and the birds know it. The farmers don't plow the fields immediately after harvest like they do in Texas. Hunting in Arkansas is like a step back in time.
When I decided three years ago to move our operation to Arkansas, I thought that if we worked as hard in Arkansas as we did in Texas, we would have success. Never in a million years did I expect the hunting to be so spectacular! I'm anxiously awaiting the next season and know another 200 plus bird hunt is possible.