OUTFITTER REVIEW ON:
Part 1:THE HUNT
Hunting Spring Snows In Southern Illinois
With Snows Unlimited
By Brandon Jensen
|Departing from my home in western Wisconsin on a late February morning with two of my hunting pals, we were on cloud 9! We were headed out on an all day journey to meet up with outfitter / decoy maker James Frerking of Snows Unlimited for a 2 day spring snow goose hunting adventure to southern Illinois!|
In talking with James the day before, he warned us that with the early spring warm up this season, that the bulk of the migration had now passed through his area but we were gung ho and had the time off work, that wasn't going to deter us. James assured us there were still huntable numbers of geese around and hopefully more to the south yet to come. We were on our way!
|After a full days drive, we met up with James partner Rex at their usual meeting area, a local duck club located just outside of Jonesboro, IL. There we discussed what the plan was for the next day and chatted a little about how the season had been going for them. Rex told us that the season had been going great up until the last week when they had a big migration push north. At that point the hunting slowed down considerably. We were well aware of that from our previous conversation with James but having a chance to hunt in the spring is way better than sitting at work dreaming of next fall, so we were all in. |
Illinois Spring Snow Goose Hunting Outfitter James Frerking Of Snows Unlimited
|From there we followed Rex to one of the 3 lodges that they have for clients to stay at. We were pleasantly surprised to find a modernized hunting lodge with all the ammenaties and the best part was, they only charge $45 a night- what a deal! It was also just a short ten minute drive from where we would be hunting in the morning. |
When we got to the lodge we unloaded our gear and Rex explained to us again that the bulk of the migration had now moved through the area, so we most likely wouldn't see the big flocks of Snows migrating north in the morning, but the ones we would see, would more than likely decoy in real nice. We headed off to bed to get a good nights rest and dream of what was to come on our next days hunt.
When we woke in the morning we had a quick breakfast and then headed for the field. We met up with Rex and he introduced us to our guide for the day Jason. We found along with him, a monster spread waiting for us, containing about 8,500 Snows Unlimited snow goose decoys. It was very impressive to say the least.
|While we got our stuff ready to haul out to the pit, we were able to meet the other group of hunters that would be in the blind with us that day. Turns out they were also from Wisconsin. We got to know each other a little bit while Jason loaded up the Polaris Ranger with all of our gear for the day and we headed out to the field. Since Snows Unlimited runs pit blinds in all of their spreads, it didnt take long before we were all settled in and comfy, ready and waiting for the arrival of the first flock of Snows.|
This spread was the largest one they run and was by far the biggest spread I have ever seen. Jason stated that there was roughly 8,500 decoys and that it takes a group of guys a full day to set it up. They had a mixture of full bodies, floaters, and Snows Unlimited sock decoys mixed together.
|The morning hunt started a little slow. We saw a few high flying migrating flocks early, but it took a little while before we got the first flock to work into the spread. As they got into range Jason called the shot like a pro and we dropped three beautiful Snow geese. We were on the board! As the day went on, the hunting picked up. We experienced a lot of high flying birds headed north, with the smaller flocks, along with some singles and doubles that would work into the spread and offer up some nice decoying shots. As the day was about to come to a close we had one last flock that wanted in!|
|After all the shots were fired we dropped 2 more Snows and 2 Blues, bringing a nice end to our day.|
We took a few pictures to remember the hunt by and headed back to the lodge to have some dinner and share a few more stories of hunts past. That night we were the only ones in the lodge. After dinner we watched a little TV before heading to bed, to get some much needed rest before day two.
A peak at James' beautiful lodge available to his hunters for $45 a night
|We woke to an overcast sky with on and off rain showers expected throughout the day. Not exactly what the Dr. ordered but we were still rearing to go. We had a nice hot breakfast and met with Rex again to get the days itinerary. Today we were hunting with another guide Jon in a new field. Another nice perk of hunting with Snows Unlimited is that they move groups around a lot so you never hunt the same field twice.|
|After pulling into the parking area to our field, Jon loaded the Polaris Ranger with all of our gear and headed out to the pit. Another nice perk that came in handy on this day is that Snows Unlimited places a porta-pottie at the parking areas for all of their hunters to use. This comes in handy throughout the day for obvious reasons.|
|We all got settled into a brand new pit blind that they had just placed in that field over the summer. The spread for Day 2 was a little smaller than the previous day, but still had over 4,000 Snows Unlimited decoys set up. |
Just as shooting time came we had a big flock of Snow geese that gave us a hard look, but slipped off to the side just before coming into range. With the grey skies and scattered showers there were not a lot of geese moving north today, so it was a little slower then we had hoped for. We were however able to pick off a couple singles and doubles that dive bombed the spread throughout the day. We saw quite a few more geese later in the day when the skies cleared up, off in the distance migrating up the Mississippi River. We were able to end the hunt on a good note and finished our day with double digit birds on the ground.
|On the trip back to Wisconsin, we had plenty of time to reflect on the hunt. Even though we didnt put huge numbers of birds on the ground like the guys had done earlier in the season, overall we could not have been happier with the services that James and his crew provide. It was very clear that James definitely runs a first class operation from start to finish. He has very clean and comfortable pit blinds at all locations overlooking massive decoy spreads. And when the birds are cooperating they definitely put on a show. We all agreed we would definitely go back to hunt with Snows Unlimited and would highly recommend them to any hunter who is interested in a phenomenal spring snow goose hunt in southern Illinois.|
Part 2: THE REVIEW
|OUTFITTER KNOWLEDGE / PERSONALITY: ||Score||5 / 5 |
|Outfitter James Frerking and his partner Rex Shoot are masters of the spring snow goose hunt. The overall operation they have set in place was more than impressive. It was evident that this is a full time operation. James is also the inventor of his own line of premium snow goose decoys. Needless to say this guy takes it seriously. Both guides Jason and Jon were also very knowledgeable and fun to be around 5/ 5!|
|QUALITY OF |
|Score||5 / 5|
|The equipment that Snows Unlimited uses is incredible. Having spreads of 4,000 8,500 decoys in each field along with top of the line commercial grade pit blinds shows the amount of effort the place on their equipment. Not to mention James himself designed and manufactures the majority of the decoys used. The porta- potties in the parking lots is also a nice touch. 5 / 5!|
|Score||4 / 5|
|As with any hunt, the outfitter can only control so much of it. We were warned prior to departing for the trip that the majority of the snow goose migration had moved through the area. James makes sure to tell all of his customers if that is of a concern well before they come. We went ahead with the trip anyway and felt that for what we had for birds in the area, we were able to decoy in our fair share and shot birds each day. It wasnt fast and furious but it was entertaining and we were glad we went. The hunters that were there earlier in the season all did very well. 4/ 5!|
|QUALITY OF MEALS |
|Score||4 / 5|
|The lodge we stayed at during our trip was very clean and modernized with all the ammenaties of home and for $45 per night well worth the price of admission. We each had our own bed and it had the traditional hunting cabin feel. We also had the facilities to make our own meals and relax in front of the big screen tv after a long day in the field. Located less then 10 minutes from our field each morning was an added bonus 4 / 5!|
HUNT PACKAGES AND
|Score||5 / 5|
|Snows Unlimiteds standard weekday hunts are $150 per day and the weekend hunts are $175 per day. With lodging available for $45 per night. The lodge is much better then staying at a run down hotel room, with all the ammenaties of home. Although food is not included there are cooking facilities available at the lodge and in the pits to make a hot meal at any time. At those prices are a steal for a hunt of this caliber - 5 / 5!|
|OVERALL QUALITY |
OF THE TRIP:
|Score||5 / 5 |
|Overall, all three of us felt this was a great experience and one that we would definitely do again. Everything was top notch from start to finish and when the main push of snows in moving through the area, there is no better place to be hunting spring snow geese 5 / 5!|
|Overall Snows Unlimited Scored A 28 Out Of 30 Giving Them An "A" Rating. We Would Not Hesitate At All To Refer James and Rex For Their Spectacular Southern Illinois Spring Snow Goose Hunts!|
|28 / 30|
COPYRIGHT 2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED