By Steve Hickoff
Right now, waterfowlers around the country are stoked for just one thing—September’s early goose seasons. Two kinds of birds will be targeted then: so-called “residents” and early migrants. Let’s look at both . . .
Residents: These are the honkers that soil golf course putting greens and neighborhood parks. They’re an embarrassment to the early migrants that move from the north later. Still, they’re technically just wild geese who figured out where a good meal could be had with less effort. Best thing is they’re perfectly legal. Fact is this early goose season is intended to manage their numbers. Trouble is it’s a challenge. To hunt them effectively you have to do a number of things right.
First you need to find where they roost at night. This is likely a water source, sometimes even one you might hunt as they move from it to the feeding area. Second, you need to get permission either where the geese might pass by overhead or actually where they put their webbed feet down to feed. I’ve known golf course groundskeepers who permit early hunts before the men in pressed slacks arrive. It never hurts to ask.
Early Migrants: You can tell the difference in these Canada (not “Canadian”) geese the moment they appear on the horizon. Their calling gives you goosebumps (bad pun intended) and you know why you got up so early to greet them. Unlike the resident birds, this feels like the real deal. Depending on where you live in the Northeast as an example, this early push of birds begins later in September. It continues into October and beyond.
You’ve got to scout to find where they roost at night and feed by day—just as with resident honkers. Buckle up though. It’s not uncommon for a guy to hop in his truck and follow a ragged sky-bound “V” of geese to their distant location (guilty!). Do whatever it takes. Location is everything.
Your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side can help you hunt these early birds in a number of ways. You can ride your four-wheeler to blind locations with gear in tow, and ready your hunting position for the next day or that morning. You can haul that gear back out when you relocate.
Just remember to pace yourself. It’s a long waterfowl season—and this is the start of it.