LITTLE ROCK – Duck hunting time is growing short for Arkansans, but some of them will keep active for a while with geese.
Duck season ends Sunday, Jan. 26, and so do regular goose hunting seasons. But we have the hunt that isn’t officially a hunt, starting the following day, Monday, Jan. 27, for some varieties of geese. This is the federally named Light Goose Conservation Order.
Light Goose. It does not mean body weight. It means color, and on this point there is some misunderstanding. Snow geese are the objective of this conservation order, in which hunting rules are greatly liberalized.
Snow geese are light in color, white with some black wing markings. But the blue is a color phases of snow geese and blue geese can be confused in the field with white-fronted or specklebelly geese. Blue geese can even be mistaken for Canada geese at a distance.
Hunting seasons for white-fronted (specklebelly) and Canada geese ends Jan. 26 along with hunting of all varieties of ducks.
At present, many thousands of snow geese are in Arkansas with the largest numbers in the eastern areas. They are feeding on young winter wheat primarily.
The rules of that conservation order allow snow goose hunters to use unplugged shotguns, to use electronic callers, to hunt a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset and to hunt with licenses from any state. No federal or state duck stamps are required. But hunters have to register beforehand with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. They receive a permit number, and it is free.
Goose identification tips:
Snow geese and blue geese have white heads.
White-fronted (specklebelly) have gray heads. Splotchy undersides give them the specklebelly nickname, and their fronts are more brownish-gray than white.
Canada geese have black heads with white chins.
Snow geese and white-fronted (specklebelly) geese have yellow or orange legs. Canada geese have black or dark gray legs.
Similar to snow geese are Ross’ geese. These look like small snow geese, and they also are huntable under the conservation order.
White-fronted (specklebelly) geese are often found in the same areas as snow geese, usually but not always in separate groupings. Canada geese, many of them permanent Arkansas residents, tend to be off to themselves from the other goose species.