Texas Snow Geese

Eagle Lake, Texas

Visit the "goose hunting capital of the world" in Eagle Lake, Texas-or any number of nearby townships that could just as legitimately make that claim. Since an agricultural boom in the late 1960s, the entire Texas coastal prairie, which extends south, east, and west of Houston, has become the nation's premier light goose destination.

The stories of snow goose flocks so big they obliterate the sun and so loud they drown out your thoughts are just about true. By December and January, the majority of the geese that will winter on the coastal prairie-up to 3 million or more-are here. Set up near a major roost and you might see tens of thousands of geese in a day. To hunt them, though, you'll likely have to open your wallet. Virtually the entire area is privately owned, with access to the best properties controlled by guides and outfitters. Guided hunts run $100 to $150 per person per day. But if you choose your outfitter carefully, via research and recommendations, you'll enjoy some of the best waterfowling on the continent. A great resource is www.hotspotguides.com, which features a list of nearly 200 Texas outfitters.

Hotspots: For the best action, Dave Morrison, waterfowl program leader with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, points to the Katy Prairie near the towns of El Campo and Wharton, as well as the Eagle Lake Prairie near the town of Eagle Lake. Excellent hunting can also be had farther east on the Anahuac Prairie along Interstate 10. Among the few public areas that offer good late-season action, according to Morrison, are Mad Island, Peach Point, and Guadalupe Delta Wildlife Management Areas, all of which are situated along the coast (check local regulations).

Insider Tip: "During the late season, put the shooters 50 or so yards downwind of the spread while the callers hang back," says guide Al Glos of Texas Waterfowl Outfitters (800-899-2650; www.texaswaterfowl.com). "This way, shooters intercept incoming geese before they have a chance to flare. The result is plenty of passing shots at 30 to 40 yards." Season dates: South Zone light goose, Oct. 25¿¿¿Jan. 18; Coastal Prairie Light Goose Conservation Order, Jan. 19¿¿¿Mar. 28.