Grey Reef Wingshooting
Part 1:THE HUNT
A Kansas Goose Hunt To Remember
by Dan Wennerlind
Pulling out of my driveway, departing from the Denver area on a cold February morning, I looked down at my truck’s outside temperature gauge and it read -2 degrees. Not exactly what I was hoping for when I planned my early spring hunt to north central Kansas with Jason Ostrander of Grey Reef Wingshooting the month before.
Not only was I concerned that the 200,000 Snow geese, 40,000 Canada geese and 7,000 White fronted geese that had been counted the previous week on the north central Kansas reservoir we were set to hunt would depart the area, but sitting in a frozen corn field in negative temps for the next 3 days wasn’t as appealing as it sounded up front. The area temps were suppose to be in the mid to upper 40’s....
One of the main reasons I had been looking forward to this hunt for the past few months is that the state of Kansas offers a very unique waterfowl hunting opportunity each spring. From Feb 1 – Feb 9 they open up a spring dark goose hunt for Canada geese and White fronted geese before the official light goose conservation season opens on Feb 10th. With the large concentrations of dark geese that migrate through the state each spring and the liberal bag limits of 6 dark geese, of which 2 can be White fronted geese, and a whopping 50 light geese allowed per day, this would normally be a lights out hunt. Now the only thing I could hope for was the temperature gauge in my truck to slowly climb above zero as I headed east across the Kansas prairie.
Watching the sun come up on the eastern horizon as I pulled into my meeting point with Jason, I could tell we were in for a frigid cold hunt as my temp gauge now read -5 degrees. It actually got colder!!!
No matter, I still had high hopes as Jason said he was sitting on an “X Field” with over 10,000 Snow geese feeding on it for the past couple days, only a mile or two south of the roost lake. I pulled up next to Jason’s truck and had a chance to catch up with my good friend after the long cold winter. We had actually been out to Jason’s main lodge in Casper, Wyoming back in November and joined Jason on one of his World Class Wyoming upland bird hunts. In fact Jason did such an amazing job on that hunt that we named Grey Reef Wingshooting the 2014 HuntTheNorth.com Outfitter Of The Year!
I was really looking forward to joining Jason on one of his incredible spring goose hunts. Since Jason was just getting rolling, this would be the first official spring hunt for Jason this year and I was more than happy to lend a hand in getting the spread set up in this fresh field full of geese, being that I arrived a day early for the hunt. (Note Jason does not normally expect his hunters to assist in setting the spread) but in these conditions Jason wasn’t going to turn down the offer.
We unloaded his 20 foot enclosed trailer and I was very impressed with his set up. We started by setting up just over 1,000 Sillosock snow goose decoys as the main body of the spread. From there we put out about 120 full body decoys, made up of 75 fully flocked Dakota snow goose decoys, that we placed right in the kill hole.
Jason was very excited to show off his new spread of fully flocked full body decoys that he just picked up the week before. They looked amazing! And since we were able to hunt dark geese this week, Jason added about 80 – 100 Canada goose and White fronted decoys about 30 yards down wind of the main snow goose spread to draw in the smaller flocks of Cackler geese and Specks in the area. I had to admit the spread looked pretty darn good. Just when I thought we were done, Jason pulled out 6 vortex machines and 50 snow goose flapper decoys to top it off. Now we were talking! The only thing we would be missing on this hunt was the two main E Caller sound system machines that Jason runs. But due to the fact that it is illegal to use E Callers during the 9 day dark goose season they had to stay in the trailer until next week.
As we watched the sun hit the horizon late in the day, skeins of Snow geese were spread out across the horizon heading back to the lake. There was no shortage of geese left in the area even though the majority of White fronted geese and about half the Snows and Canada’s had already vacated the area from the week before.
One Of Jason's New
Fully Flocked Dakota
Snow Goose Decoys
After arriving back at the motel located only 10 minutes away, we ran into my good friend Dave Ciani who would be joining me on this Kansas goose hunting adventure, coming all the way down from Deadwood, South Dakota. We said a quick hello and "how was the trip", before grabbing a hot and much needed bite to eat and then hit the sac. It had been a long day of traveling and setting decoys in the cold temps.
The next morning came fast and the temps were again below zero. The locals said they don’t see these freezing temps in Kansas but once every 10 – 15 years, just our luck- we had to laugh. After getting situated in the spread we had a pair of little cackler geese drop right in on top of us and the first birds of the day we were down. Then the large flocks of Snows hit the horizon. We could see clouds of geese in every direction. Suddenly it didn’t seem as cold anymore. In fact I was pretty comfortable in my layout blind with my 1 year old pup Brandy snuggled in behind my back rest. It didn’t take long before
the geese spotted our decoys and made a V-line for our spread. However with no wind to move the decoys the first few flocks of geese did what adult Snows do and banked left and right at about 60 yards out. That seemed to be the norm for the morning hunt as the wind stayed below 5 mph. At around 11am we waved the white flag as most of the birds were now back on the roost and we had empty bellies that could use a hot lunch to warm us back up.
We didn’t waste any time getting back to the field for the afternoon hunt though as there was a major blizzard expected to hit the area the next day and we knew the birds would be feeding hard all afternoon in preparation. We pulled back into the field a little before 1pm and the geese were already working the spread. Now we had a stiff wind from the NE and the geese were working the decs a lot better. We even had a flock of about 7,000 Snows land a half mile to the south of us which kept feeding us doubles and singles all afternoon long. We also had a few decent flocks of Canada’s work the decs late in the afternoon. Now I remembered why I had braved the elements to sit in a frozen corn field in single digit temps in early February. Dave looked over at me with a huge grin on his face, we were having the time of our lives!
The next morning we expected to awake to a foot of snow on the ground but unbelievably no snow had hit the ground yet. After a quick trip to the local gas station / restaurant we found out that the snow was set to arrive in less than 2 hours and we could expect 15 – 25 mph winds and 6 – 12 inches of snow over the next 24 hours. Dave and I quickly V-lined it to the field and were as excited as a kid on a snow day off from school, as we knew the birds would be flying strong before the storm hit.
We were not disappointed. We had big flocks of both Snows and Canadas working the decs all day long. It was the day all hard core waterfowlers dream about. The snow was coming down sideways by 10am and the geese were flying 10 yards off the ground. The only challenge was getting a shot off before the birds flared with the wind. Our goal was simply to drop one bird out of each flock. By lunch time we had a dozen geese on the ground. We would have stayed out all day but the wind chill was 15 below zero and we needed a break to warm up and revitalize ourselves. At around 1:15 we headed to the local café for a lunch break to warm up but were quick to be back in the spread by 2pm. On the way back out we jumped 200 Snow geese sitting in the decs. I would not have expected any less. The afternoon shoot was just as fast and furious and the morning had been but with the winds topping 30 mph these buggers were getting harder and harder to hit. Dave and I had to laugh as we both missed big on a flock of 10 Snows that came in at 20 yards. By 4:30 pm we were both frozen to the bone and had to call it. Most of the geese were now back on the roost and we had enough.
The next morning we awoke to clear skies and -5 temps again with a light NW wind. Unfortunately I found that my hunting partner Dave had a personal matter that needed attending to back home immediately and he had to depart right away. I would have to man the spread alone today. By 7:30 am the skies were full of Snow geese. I was a little shocked to see the geese up so early with the temps being so cold. I would have been less surprised to see the geese sitting on the lake until the late afternoon, as to see them up this early. But in talking to Jason he said with the lack of grain in the fields and the thick snow cover he felt the birds were actually starving and needed calories ASAP!
All morning long I had small flocks of Canada geese dropping into the spread and even had a flock of 200+ Snows drop in. It was another day to remember. My young pup Brandy was able to retrieve all the birds on her own and I was able to take my time and work her on the longer retrieves without having to worry about messing up the hunt for anyone else. I was just disappointed that Dave was not there to enjoy the hunt with me. In fact I was having so much fun I didn’t even take a lunch break this time. By 4pm I had a limit of Canada geese and a couple Snow geese on the ground and a growling belly. It was time to call the hunt. This was truly a Kansas goose hunt to remember.
Part 2: THE REVIEW
|OUTFITTER KNOWLEDGE / PERSONALITY: ||Score||5 / 5 |
Over the years we have found Jason to be not only a fun loving outfitter who is very enjoyable to spend time with in the field but a true sportsman who honors the ethics of hunting and truly respects the game he hunts. Jason is a very knowledgeable and experienced snow goose hunter and is an expert at what he does. We felt that way during our last hunt with Jason in Wyoming when we named him the 2014 HuntTheNorth.com Outfitter Of The Year and he backed that title up again on this hunt. An easy score of 5 / 5!
|QUALITY OF |
|Score||5 / 5|
We felt Jason’s spread of decoys was exceptional. Running between 1,200 – 1,500 decoys made up of Sillosock snow goose decoys, full body, Fully Flocked Dakota snow goose decoys and up to 50 Flyer decoys for added realism and movement. Although we were unable to use the two Electronic caller systems Jason normally uses during the spring season due to the fact that the dark goose season was open I am confident that his sound system is just as high quality as the rest of his set up. Jason also has a 4 wheeler on site to help transport his clients that have a tougher time getting in and out of the fields. Another 5 / 5!
|Score||5 / 5|
Jason prides himself on setting up and hunting the “X Field”. He does everything he can throughout the season to make sure he is set up where the birds want to be. Jason scouted for 2 days before our hunt to make sure we were in a great field that was full of birds the day before. The hundreds of goose tracks in the snow when we were setting up was proof of that. Jason also states that he will move his spreads every 2 – 3 days as needed throughout the season to make sure his clients are where the birds want to be. Jason works hard at this aspect of the hunt and we had geese working the spread throughout the entire hunt. There was never a dull moment. Another perfect score- 5 / 5!
|QUALITY OF MEALS |
|Score||3 / 5|
Although lodging and meals are not included in the hunt package. Jason is more than willing to help set up reservations for his hunters at a local motel that is less that 10 minutes from the fields he hunts. We had a most enjoyable stay and the rates were very reasonable at less than $50.00 per night. The rooms were clean. Our dogs were welcome inside the rooms for a small additional fee and they even have a bird cleaning room in the back of the motel as needed for their customers. There is also a very nice restaurant in town that we enjoyed a warm lunch and dinner at each day. Since we can only give a maximum score of 3 / 5 for motel style lodging on a hunt review, that is what Jason received and was the only knock he received on this hunt.
HUNT PACKAGES AND
|Score||5 / 5|
We felt Jason’s prices and ability to accommodate any size group of hunters, all the way down to single hunters, to be well worth the money. Jason’s spring hunts run from $175.00 per hunter for groups of 4 or more. And he is willing to take smaller groups as well as single hunters for an additional fee. Jason also offers a 3 Day Hunt Package for $450 per hunter, for groups of 4 or more and is willing to give a 10% discount for mentioning HuntTheNorth.com! We feel this is a great value and scored Jason a 5 / 5!
|OVERALL QUALITY |
OF THE TRIP:
|Score||5 / 5 |
Overall we had a fantastic hunt with Jason and would not have expected any less from our 2014 Outfitter Of The Year! Jason does not sugar coat the expectations of the hunt and works hard to make sure all of his customers have a most enjoyable and memorable hunting experience each and every time out. He did not disappoint! We scored Jason another 5 /5 on the overall hunting experience and were happy to do so!
|Overall Jason scored a 28 / 30 giving him an “A Rating”. We would not hesitate to recommend Jason to anyone for his World Class Caliber spring goose hunts!|
|28 / 30|
Part 3: Booking Information
|Contact Information For: Grey Reef Wingshooting|
Outfitter: Jason Ostrander
Phone: 1.888. 552.3179
Address: 2094 Glendo Street Casper, Wyoming 82604
Additional Hunts Offered:
In addition to Jason’s Incredible Kansas Spring Goose Hunts. He also offers:
- Nebraska and South Dakota Spring Snow Goose Hunts
- Wyoming Summer Fly Fishing On the North Platte River
- Wyoming Fall Upland Bird And Late Season Waterfowl Hunts
For more information on any of these hunts be sure to give Jason a call ASAP at 1.888.552.3179 as many of his hunts are pre booked each year from his repeat customers.
| more photos from the hunt...|
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