We kicked off the season in early March, hunting the finger lakes region of the state. Our hunting locations in the finger lakes, typically are in the heart of the spring migration in early March. These bodies of water are a major staging area for migrating snows as they journey North. This year however, our stay in the western zone of the state was short lived! The lack of snow from our winter along with warm temperatures created a scenario where a "freeze line" was practically non-existent in NY. Any and all major barriers of snow and ice that would temporarily stall goose migration efforts were north of the St. Lawrence and into Canada. What we quickly noticed, was that the birds were pushing past the finger lakes, and into more northern territories where they would spend a short time feeding before continuing on. It was then that we feared the worse. Instead of a migration that would typically last through March and into April, it seemed as though our birds would be punching their airline tickets and migrating through in a matter of days! The decision to relocate to our hunting fields to the north was made early. At last minutes notice the BRVO guide team was assembled, and they removed a 1,400 decoy rig from a cornfield in the finger lakes to another field which was located two and a half hours north of our current location OVERNIGHT! It was a sleepless night that began at 8pm on a Tuesday evening, and ended with the last decoy being stuck in the ground 1 hour before legal shooting light on Wednesday morning!
All of our hunters are instructed upon booking, to be as flexible as possible with their travel and hunt plans. The scenario that was just described is the exact reason why flexibility is so imperative in order to ensure a successful hunt. When the snow geese move, and the migration shifts or changes, the hunters must do the same! Fortunately all of our hunters took our advice, and were prepared to change plans and move north in pursuit of these white devils. Our hunters arrived to the field and were loaded and ready to shoot by the time the sun was peeking over the trees. It wasn't long before we heard the first snow goose barks of the morning! This was where we stayed and hunted for the duration of the migration. Unfortunately, we never experienced the large numbers of migrating geese that one would typically witness during a spring migration. What did happen however, was a migration that came in short bursts, lasting 2-3 days with a day or two of stale bird movement in between. This situation, was far from bad. In fact, it was absolutely perfect! With a shortage of large feeding flocks in the area, the small groups of geese that trickled in throughout each day literally dive bombed our decoys! They saw what looked like the biggest feed in town, and decided to join the party, only to have their party crashed by a line of unplugged shotguns that showed no mercy! It was some of the finest decoying action we had ever experienced over a snow goose rig, with the average shot ranging 20 yards or less! The best part was it was consistent! Small groups of geese made for less eyes to pick out the imperfections of a replicated snow goose flock. It also led to a minimal amount of jump shooting in our area, which would typically make the snow geese even more wary and unpredictable than they already are! The end result was snow geese reacting to decoys and calls, the way resident Canada geese react to them during our September season!
These conditions remained the same until the final push of birds moved through, 3 weeks after moving north from the finger lakes. This was the longest time our decoys have ever stayed in one location during a spring migration. With birds slowly trickling north each day, it stretched our season further than we ever thought it would, and it continuously provided fresh birds for our hunters. The days in between the flights were slow at times, but even on a typical year, that is to be expected. Our biggest advantage, was the same advantage that we use during our fall season which is the ability to work and communicate with other outfitters and guides throughout the season. One thing that separates us, as well as those we work with from the competition is our network of guides and outfitters that constantly communicate at all times during the season. Our ability to keep in constant communication with other guides and outfitters in the Atlantic Flyway is what allowed us to stay one step ahead of the migration, and allowed us to know in confidence that there were still birds to our south that would eventually move north to our location. Some do not agree with this strategy, and would rather "do it themselves, only for themselves" rather than combine resources. Our strategy and the strategy of those who work with us is simple, and that is to work together to ensure that each outfitter is fully capable of putting their hunters in the heart of the action no matter what! In the end that is what it is all about, and while our guides and the guides that work with and beside us were burning powder and unleashing steel punishment on whitey, many others were throwing in the towel on a season that was far from over!
Although our season still ended much earlier than expected, it was teamwork from the BRVO staff, and constant teamwork between other guides and outfitters that allowed us to continue on and rise to the top in what will probably be one of the most challenging snow goose migrations we will ever experience! This is the service you will receive on our hunts. Our hunters can take comfort in knowing that we have the power, and the reputation that allows us to use networking with other outfitters to our advantage so we can continue hunting successfully while others have packed up and headed home! We are a different breed of outfitter, as are those who join forces with us. The end result is the same for both parties. Success!
- Capt. Ben Roggie