Thinking About Early Geese
One of the biggest changes in waterfowl hunting since a time before history, a period I like to call my childhood, and now is the abundance of Canada geese.
When I and my friends first started on our own to hunt waterfowl, around 14 years of age, killing a Canada goose would make your season. Darn near get your picture in the paper. Certainly make you a local hero amongst your contemporaries.
Back then I hunted ducks over the water, small ponds and the Platte River in Nebraska. A couple dozen miss-matched mallard decoys and a few leaky goose decoys was all we could afford. For a few special weeks in the fall we would put out home made plywood snow goose silos on the sandbars with little success.
These days, I have a 16’ x 7’ enclosed trailer packed with Canada goose decoys, layout blinds, decoy sleds and a host of equipment to help me chase the most common waterfowl species I hunt, the Canada goose.
The kickoff event of the waterfowl season for many, many hunters is the “early season” special resident Canada goose season. Beginning in many states in September and some states as early as August, this special season allows a chance to hunt a growing population of dark geese. Fresh birds, a larger daily harvest and a chance to hunt in tee shirts; a sweet deal!
The down side of this season is finding great spots to set up and do your damage. Most of the fields that we will be hunting later in the season still have crops in them. The geese can be scattered and although plentiful they may be spread out over many smaller feeding areas.
Here are some thoughts on locating prime spots for the early season geese;
Finding a hay or alfalfa field that is near the roost that is freshly cut will bring in early birds if other foods sources are not yet available. Start looking for such fields now and then knock on some doors and see if you can secure permission before it is cut and the geese are in there. Once the geese are in the field other hunters will spot them and may beat you to getting permission. Ask the farmer when he anticipates cutting will help you in your planning.
Pees and oats are the first crops cut here in in a lot of areas. Frequently the farmer may try to get a crop in behind the pees. Identifying the location of the oat fields in your area and securing permission will provide you areas to check out as soon as they are cut. Oat fields when cut low can be tuff to hide in. But the good news is early geese are typically much less weary and prone to coming into some less then ideal hides. Just the same be thinking now about hiding in the short stubble. Some camo netting with some light colored raffia grass attached may be just the ticket.
Sweet corn is where it is at! Sweet corn is typically harvested early and the geese LOVE it. I have witnessed the geese diving in 100 yards behind the combine. They will hit these fields and stay in them until other corn fields start open and pull them away. These fields typically offer a great hide too. Securing permission on the first harvested sweet corn field is the surest guarantee of some great early season hunting that I know.
I love to shoot geese over water. If you can secure permission on a small watering, irrigation water hold, or marsh area in close proximity to a feeding area. Hunting can be great. I am happiest when I have such a water source next to or in between some sweet corn fields. We try to alternate the fields and water and avoid too much pressure in one location. However I have had some great days hunting the in between watering stops mid morning and afternoon when the geese were leaving fields I could not get permission to hunt. Geese will look to get some drinking water near their chosen fields after feeding for an hour or two.
My Dad told me to not shoot where the bird is ~ shoot were he is going to be. The same goes for patterning early season birds. Find the above locations and believe me, the birds will be there soon. Scout and get permission now to have a great early season on the big geese.
Until I see you in the field, be safe, be good, and BE LUCKY