Early goose season under way

17 years ago

Just in case you’re a waterfowling enthusiast and missed the recent but scarce postings regarding this year’s native goose season, it opened yesterday. Information wasn’t posted on the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife web site until mid afternoon last Thursday, precious little time to get geared up and prepared.     With the weekend just around the corner however, sportsmen need to gather gear, compile camo clothing, dig out decoys and try to fit in at least a bit of scouting. Oh, and don’t forget to purchase a federal duck stamp at the post office and a state stamp at city hall or the town office.
Goose gunners will enjoy the usual three week September season ending Sept. 25, and the high point this fall will be an increase to six honkers a day in the northern zone and eight a day in the southern zone.
When you consider that 25 years ago Canada geese were a rare sight in Aroostook County, to currently enjoy a limit of half a dozen per day is extraordinary. A few handfuls of imported and transplanted geese that were a nuisance in other New England states have multiplied and expanded to every nook and cranny of the Crown of Maine wetlands.
Oddly enough, a few County towns are now having their own headaches with native geese causing problems in local parks and ponds, play grounds and beach areas. These ballooning populations surely play a part in the new, increased limits. From a hunter’s point of view, these troublesome geese are a sporting treasure. Unlike migrating Canada geese that stop over to feed and fatten during their October and November flights south, local birds are less wary and have developed summer habits that can help even novice hunters.
Since these native honkers haven’t been shot at, as traveling flights often are, they decoy well to goose calling and small decoy spreads. The trick is to locate cut grain fields that regularly attract small group of hungry geese, then set up, camo up and wait.
With so many fields to choose from, selecting the correct one can be frustrating, and even when geese are spotted in one location for a day or two the flock may move on a whim the very next day. Perseverance and persistence mixed in with a good deal of scouting is the formula to September field success.
Hunting over water, especially roost ponds and rest rivers can be even more productive on a regular basis than food plots.
Local geese are habitual about their waterways, where they spend every night out of the reach of predators and most late mornings and early afternoons preening, dabbling, digesting and napping. Waterfowlers who pinpoint such rest and recuperation waterways will be assured fast and furious wingshooting often without need for a single decoy.
Dressed from head to toe in camo clothing, including mesh facemasks and lightweight gloves, shooters can blend into the shoreline brush or construct a small makeshift blind on small islands where geese frequently congregate.
Birds leave their home water early to feed, then return to rest waters at mid morning, where thanks to that scouting I previously mentioned, hunters can be waiting.
Another option is to use a canoe or small boat to float a river or stream, scouting far ahead using binoculars to spot geese on the water or shoreline. Then it’s a matter of beaching the boat, sneaking along the wooded bank within shotgun range and hoping the honkers are still at hand. Whether from a blind or boat, stretches of river or small ponds can be gunned no more than once a week at most or the geese will quickly change their favorite R and R spots.
If decoys are to be used, full body styles work best especially those with well-detailed body painting and flocked heads. A dozen will suffice on or around water and two dozen should be plenty for feed fields.
Birds should decoy closer during this early season, so three-inch shells should suffice and steel will work fine in size #2, #1, or BB pellets. Save the three and a half inch shells and the bismuth, Hevishot, and tungsten loads for the wily, decoy-shy late season geese.
Don’t waste any time because the early native goose hunt is a quick one, and it’s already in progress.  Get geared up and plan a hunt this week, the birds are plentiful and near every town so a pre-work outing is worth the effort.  Be sure to take a friend along to enjoy the excitement, and if you do fill the new daily bag limit you’ll need all the help you can get to lug that many big birds back to the truck!