Outdoors: Snow geese are back in the area
If you’re a snow goose hunter, or just a wildlife photographer, you both can shoot thousands of snow geese by trekking on down to upper Berks County.
There’s a large field behind Sittler’s Golf Center and Haldeman Ford on Route 222 outside Kutztown and on Kutztown Road. As I drove past there at 12:20 p.m. last week, the field behind these two businesses was a sea of white, that on first view took on the appearance of snow. But instead, was a few thousand snow geese feeding there with smaller flocks continuing to come in from the East to join them.
But before hunting there, waterfowlers should find out who owns the land and get permission to hunt. These geese all appear to be beyond the legal 100-yard distance of buildings and structures to hunt them. And a benefit is that there is a wide patch of three-foot high weeds adjacent to the field that would make a good place to serve as a blind.
I spoke to an employee of Sittler’s in the center’s parking lot and he told me the geese are common, daily visitors there. When asked if he hunts them, seeing he wore a Mossy Oak camo jacket, he said no he only hunts deer.
While Canada geese make tasty table fare, the opinion on snows aren’t as good. A few goose hunters I interviewed say the snows’ meat has a tundra grass taste. Some say they cut the breasts into strips and smoke it. Others say they crock pot them, make stews or gumbo from their meat.
With so many seasonal geese, U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials say snows need culling because they’re eating themselves out of house and home on their breeding grounds. That, plus local farmers often have their winter wheat fields eaten bare to the ground. So taking a few home for dinner can be a treat.
Cabela’s offers these tips on preparing snow geese that will make them delightful table fare.
First off, it’s strongly advised to skin your snows as soon as possible as the off-putting flavor resides in the skin. That, and keep them as cool as possible if the weather is not freezing. After that, their flavor is fully dependent on how you prepare them, so here are three suggestions:
Either fresh, cured or smoked, sausage is an excellent way to prepare challenging game meat, including snow geese. You can work up your own recipe, or adapt a recipe from some of the great sausage cookbooks, including Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn or Great Sausage and Meat Smoking Recipes by Rytek Kutas. There are also a lot of great pre-made sausage kits that take any guesswork out of making your own snow goose sausage. One favorite is the Beer Salami Kit in Cabela’s Smokehouse line.
When dealing with a lot of meat, It’s hard to beat jerky, whether of the whole muscle variety or ground and shot through a Jerky Blaster. Cabela’s says you may want to use their High Mountain Seasoning Jerky Board and Knife to power through a lot of goose breasts in short order. A crank or grinder-mounted jerky slicer would also make quick work of a bunch of geese.
Once tasted, a smoked goose breast rarely sticks around long. A sweet, fruity wood smoke enhances the light salty-sweet flavor created by the proper brine. Start with a simple mix of 1 cup kosher salt and 1 cup brown sugar per gallon of water and let the goose breasts soak in this, refrigerated, for 24 hours. Then remove from the brine, pat off excess moisture with paper towels and let the breasts sit on a wire rack on the counter for bit until they are completely dry. Then smoke them in a 200-degree smoker for 2 to 6 hours, or until the internal temperature reads 150 degrees.
Sounds delicious. Now all you have to do is harvest a few of these wary waterfowl that won’t stick around much longer.