Goose And Duck Smackers
Part 1:THE HUNT
A Late Spring Snow Goose Hunt With
Goose And Duck Smackers Guide Service
By Brandon Jensen
Embarking from western Wisconsin, heading to central South Dakota on a late spring Friday afternoon, all that was on my mind was bagging my first Snow goose of the spring conservation season. Two of my good hunting buddies and myself were all packed up and headed to Redfield, South Dakota to meet up with Brian Cahalen of Goose and Duck Smackers Guide Service. Once we hit the South Dakota border, we kept our eyes in the sky awaiting to see that first flock of Snows, in hopes that we would have an opportunity for a great two day hunt!
Brian had explained to us before we left that this late in the spring they had already wrapped up the hunting at their main lodge located in NE Arkansas and were now on the move following the migration up from northern Arkansas, into central South Dakota.
It was about a six hour trip from our home near Hudson, WI to Redfield, SD. On the way we made a pit stop in Watertown, SD to grab a bite to eat and our Spring Conservation hunting licenses. It was refreshing to see that the out of state license for South Dakota was only $50 for the entire spring season. From Watertown, it was just over an hour straight west to our destination of Redfield. As we pulled into Redfield I called Brian to see what the plan was. He told us that they were just getting in from the field, and were going grab some dinner. He stated that the forecast for our first day looked very promising!
We met two of Brian’s guides on Saturday morning in the Super 8 Motel parking lot, which is the only place to stay in the town of Redfield. TJ and Ben were our guides for the morning and told us that there were currently over a million Snows staging in the area. They felt that with the forecast for the day of 25 mph winds and bright sunny skies, we would be in for a great hunt. We left the motel at about 6:15am for a short 10 mile drive to our field. We were all ready for the day’s hunt to begin.
As we pulled over a small hill into a stubble cornfield, I knew we had reached our destination, as there were over 1,400 Snow goose decoys already set in the ground. We got out of the trucks and met up with the other two guns that would be joining us for the hunt. A father and son team from Iowa. TJ and Ben made several adjustments to the spread while we got settled into our Beavertail layout blinds and we were all set for our hunt. The guys from Iowa, who were on their second ever Snow goose hunt said that they estimated seeing well over one million Snow geese in the areas around our field the evening before.
As soon as the spread was ready, we had a flock of Snows already working the decoys, off in the distance. We all climbed into our blinds with high hopes for the morning hunt. Although the forecast was for 20-25 mph, we already had wind gusts of up to 45 mph. There were many flocks that would work perfectly up to about 75 yards but then wouldn’t finish, which was typical for late spring adult Snows, our guides told us.
We finally got a flock of 5 birds to work into range and Ben yelled "SHOOT EM'"! We all arose from our blinds and emptied our shotguns. Two birds fell from the sky and it was game on from there.
As the morning went on we continued to have several flocks of between 5 to 12 birds work into the spread over us. Although most would just float above us, just out of shooting range, every now and then we would get a pair or three to drop in giving us a clean shot. As things slowed down around 10 a.m. we got out of our blinds to retrieve our downed birds. We ended with a total of 13 Snows and Blues on the first morning’s hunt. At that point, since the morning flight was now over, Ben and TJ said they were going to head back to town for lunch and a nap and would meet us back at the field at 3pm for the afternoon hunt.
We arrived back at the field 3:00pm to meet up with the guys, and outfitter Brian Cahalen and TJ were there waiting for us with smiling faces. Brian said that Ben was out doing some scouting and would be joining us later on in the hunt. In preparation for the afternoon hunt we all helped pick up some of the decoys that had blown over, and made a few key adjustments to the E-Callers and the 3 vortex machines that were in our spread. While we waited for the evening flight, I was able to catch up with Brian on his main spring operation located in NE Arkansas.
Brian went over with me the entire “All Inclusive” Spring Hunt Package that they have to offer at their home camp in Arkansas. Brian stated that they typically start that season in early February each spring. They have their hunters arrive the afternoon before the hunt at their main lodge and help them get their gear into the assigned rooms. After the groups get situated they then reconvene in the dining area for the delicious home cooked dinner. During the meal Brian gets to know the hunters and discusses the plan for the morning’s hunt. Brian likes to stagger the morning departure times as there are usually several groups hunting in camp at any one time. The properties they hunt are located anywhere from right there on the property, up to 45 minutes away from the lodge, depending on where the birds are feeding.
Brian said that they serve a nice continental breakfast at the lodge every morning, before the hunters leave with their guide(s) to the field for the day. Typically the hunt will run until the morning flight is over around 10:30 -11:00am. At that point, as we had experienced earlier in the day, they break for lunch and a quick nap, if needed. Brian noted that he always gives his hunters the option to stay out in the field all day if they so choose. However they must be experienced in waterfowl ID and be able to tell the difference in the different birds in the air, as many different species of waterfowl will bombard the spread throughout the day. After the midafternoon break they arrive back in the field around 3:00pm for the evening hunt. When the sun hits the horizon the birds usually stop flying, which is when they normally call the hunt and head back to the lodge to clean the birds and get ready for supper. Brian says he likes to have everybody help out with cleaning the harvest for the day as it goes a lot quicker that way and no birds go to waste. After the job of cleaning birds is completed, there is always a hot supper waiting inside the lodge. When dinner is complete, there are two main living rooms for the hunters to relax in at the end of the day and talk about the day’s hunt over a beverage or two.
A Shot From Brian's
Main Hunting Lodge
In Northeast Arkansas
After a while we started seeing some large bunches of birds in the air around us, so we settled back into our blinds and in no time at all we had a flock of four Snows work right into 30 yards and Brian called the shot. The guns rose and two more birds hit the ground. There were plenty more off in the distance now, headed our way. We then had another pair work right in and we dropped both birds, along with a single Blue goose that snuck in from out of no where. Just about the time that Brian was standing up to call it a night we had a flock of five more come in HOT. They dropped into about 25 yards and Brian called the shot. We dropped three of the five birds, which was a great ending to the first day’s hunt. We ended up with 21 total birds for the day. What a great first day of Spring Snow Goose Hunting, especially for the first timers in the group
The start to the next morning rolled around quickly, and we met our guides outside of the motel just as we had done the day before. Ben stated that the forecast today didn’t look near as good for this morning as it did the day before. We got out to the field and all of the decoys were motionless. We didn’t have an ounce of wind! As with the day before, we made some adjustments to the spread and blinds before settling in for our morning hunt. The birds weren’t moving very much at all to start the morning with a light cloud
cover and lack of wind. At around 8:30am the clouds broke up and the sun finally appeared, and with that the wind picked up. Right away we had a single Snow goose work into the spread. It dropped down to 20 yards and the shot was called and we dropped it. TJ's dog made its way back with the bird and we all could tell there was something shinny on its leg- The first bird of the day had a band! The morning continued on a little slower than the previous day but we did end with 5 geese during the morning’s hunt.
Field Pro Staffer
With A Banded
From The Hunt!
Later that afternoon we got back to the field for our final hunt of the weekend. Now there were waves and waves of birds moving north. We had a single come in almost right away and dropped that bird with one clean shot. As the night went on I saw something I had only dreamed about. We witnessed a migration of at least 1.5 million Snow geese on their way headed north. Even though we only had one more flock work into us that night, of which we bagged another two birds, the spectacle of seeing that many geese in the air was truly amazing!
On the trip back to Wisconsin I could not have been happier with the services that Brian and his crew provided us with. It was definitely a first class operation from start to finish and I would definitely recommend Goose and Duck Smackers Guide Service to any hunter who is interested in a once in a lifetime Spring Snow Goose Hunting opportunity!
Part 2: THE REVIEW
|OUTFITTER KNOWLEDGE / PERSONALITY: ||Score||5 / 5 |
We really enjoyed every aspect of Brian's operation. Brian and his crew were very knowledgeable in knowing how to make proper adjustments to the spread every morning to make sure the birds would finish in range and in the proper position for a clean shot. Brian was also very fun to spend time in the field with and both he and his guides were very friendly throughout the hunt. It was also evident that a lot of preparation and scouting went into the hunt before we arrived to ensure a most memorable experience. We give Brian a 5/5 in this category.
|QUALITY OF |
|Score||5 / 5|
The size and quality of the decoy spread we hunted over was very impressive. With over 1,400 decoys pre-set when we arrived it was very exciting to see. Brian also noted that he does incorporate a lot of full body decoys down in Arkansas where they have better access in the fields. Brian also shared with me that at the end of each season all of his decoys were going up for sale and that he replaces his entire spread every couple years to ensure he has the top of the line decoys available for his hunters. This really shows that Brian takes great pride in his equipment. For that we have given Brian a 5/5 in this category as well.
|Score||5 / 5|
It was very evident that Brian and his guides did their homework before the hunt. We felt that even though a lot of the big flocks did not finish into the spread, that we had ample opportunity to harvest many Snow geese well within 40 yards. According to the seasoned hunters to harvest over 20 adult Snow geese in a day’s hunt is a feat in itself. We had plenty of opportunities throughout our 2 day hunt to shoot and see many geese. Just to have seen the 1.5 million birds on Sunday evening was the icing on the cake for this hunt. For that we gave Brian a 5/5 in this category.
|QUALITY OF MEALS |
|Score||3 / 5|
Since we were hunting in South Dakota with Brian, this isn’t his main camp where he does provide an All Inclusive Package with meals and lodging included. On our hunt we stayed at a Super 8 Motel which was basically the only public lodging establishment located in Redfield to the best of our knowledge. The motel was clean and comfortable and met all of our needs. There were also multiple restaurants in town to eat at as well as the continental breakfast at the motel. But again for Brian’s Arkansas spring hunts he does have a lodge for his hunters along with a dinner and breakfast every morning and night they are on site. Due to the fact that on this particular hunt we stayed at the motel we gave Brian a 3/5 in this category.
HUNT PACKAGES AND
|Score||5 / 5|
The pricing for Brian’s South Dakota and Missouri Snow Goose hunts are $195 a day. That does not included lodging or meals. For a full day's hunt to be under $200, with all of the hard work and preparation to set up and take down a spread of that caliber, I would have paid more. On Brian’s Arkansas hunts, which are all inclusive with on-site lodging and home cooked meals, he charges $300 a day on weekends and $275 a day during the week. We felt both packages were very reasonable and for the quality of the hunt you receive with Brian we gave him a 5/5 in this category.
|OVERALL QUALITY |
OF THE TRIP:
|Score||5 / 5 |
Overall we felt that every aspect of Brian’s spring snow goose hunts were top notch. Brian’s operation out in the field and his overall knowledge of hunting these wary spring Snows is extensive. It is evident that he and his crew love what they do. That shows in the fact that they continue chasing the migration up into South Dakota after the Arkansas season ends. Overall we all felt it was a great hunt with a top notch outfitter. Another score of 5/5!
Overall Brian scored a 28 / 30 giving him an “A Rating”. We would not hesitate to recommend Brian to anyone for his World Class caliber spring goose hunts!
|28 / 30|
Part 3: Booking Information
|Contact Information For: Goose & Duck Smackers G.S.|
Outfitter: Brian Cahalen
Additional Hunts Offered:
In addition to Brian’s Incredible SD Spring Goose Hunts. He also offers:
- Spring Snow Goose Hunts In Arkansas & Missouri
- Minnesota Fall Duck And Goose Hunts
- Wisconsin Spring Turkey Hunts
For more information on any of these hunts be sure to give Brian a call ASAP at 1.888.588.3441 as many of his hunts are pre booked each year from his repeat customers.
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