Be Prepared for Early-Season and Fall Goose Hunts

Posted by admin On August - 23 - 2010

It’s hard to believe, but early goose season is almost here.

Depending on where you’re hunting (Massachusetts’ dates for early Canada goose hunting are Sept. 7-25), the season is right around the corner. What does this mean for hunters? Well, early goose season is a great way to kick off the fall hunting seasons, including upland game birds, small game and, yes, eventually the coveted deer, moose and bear seasons.

If you’re hitting the woods, swamps and waterways for your shot at a Canada goose, don’t forget that it takes more than just a state hunting license to be legal in harvesting them. You’ll also need a federal waterfowl stamp in order to partake in the fun.

In addition, keep in mind that while hunting hours typically begin one half hour before sunrise, they officially end at sunset.

To gear up for waterfowl hunting season, it’s always a good idea to not only get your decoys and calls all freshened up and checked over, but also your shooting. Waterfowl, like any bird, are difficult to hit if a hunter hasn’t taken the time to practice thoroughly. Our favorite method for practicing for birds, and rabbits, for that matter, is getting out and doing some clay shooting. While they aren’t as erratic as the flight of a typical bird, shooting clays allows the hunter to get back into the habit of leading their target.

Some quality clay shooting ranges even have targets that fire out from multiple directions, forcing the discipline of being not only quick on the trigger, but observant, too. Nothing can ruin that perfect shot than not seeing the “other” bird that is coming in on your blind side, forcing it and your intended target to veer off as you come up to take the shot.

Make a point of checking your state laws for your bag limits, too. In Massachusetts, the early goose season allows a bag limit of seven birds per day. You don’t want to get caught with too many birds in the hand.

As the season continues to approach, consider our top five tips for a successful Canada goose hunt. Obviously, these don’t apply just to early season hunts, but to any fall waterfowl hunting you may be doing, too:

1.    SCOUT: This is obvious to any veteran hunter, but much like hunting any big game, you will never have a successful hunt for geese unless you do a little scouting. Frankly, you can’t take a bird if there aren’t any in the area, right? So take your time and check out fields, lakes, ponds and streams. Look for where birds are feeding and consider setting up there. And the scouting doesn’t end because the season starts, either. If you aren’t having any success, watch the skies for where the flocks are heading, and set up in that direction when you go out next.

2.    USE DECOYS: The more decoys you can get set out, the better you are going to be. Big “flocks” make incoming geese feel more comfortable than small numbers, giving you better odds of bringing them in. This is especially important if you’re trying to lure geese to where you’re hunting. Get their attention with a slew of decoys. No number is too much. Get as many quality decoys as you can afford and set them out.

3.    STAY HIDDEN: There’s a reason good camouflage is in demand and that’s because you need to disappear into your surroundings if you’re going to have success hunting something that has an aerial view of where you’re at, just waiting for any sign of movement. If you’re hunting a blind, mask it with weeds, corn fodder, stubble or grass–whatever the surrounding vegetation is, get some and throw it on your blind. And make sure you’re invisible, too. Dull your gun stock so there’s no glare, make sure your watch is covered and camouflage your skin. For the best luck, don’t look straight up, either. When scanning the skies, keep your face looking at the horizon and just move your eyes.

4.    DON’T OVERTHINK: You don’t want to be the hunter who goes home without any goose to feed the family, do you? If you’ve got a large flock working overhead and a few geese coming in to land, don’t concern yourself with the quandary of waiting or shooting. Waiting can lead to a bigger bag, sure, but it can also lead to you leaving without a bird to your name. Our suggestion is to shoot when the shot presents itself. After all, one goose to eat is better than no geese at all.

5.    USE QUALITY GEAR: The last suggestion we can offer is that you don’t skimp on your gear. That doesn’t mean we want you to go out and get the most expensive gear on the market. Far from it, actually. What you want to look for is quality gear. Do a little research. Read some reviews. Get calls with multiple-call capabilities. Get decoys that aren’t cheap. Get the right shot for your gun. When you get functional, quality gear, you won’t end up kicking yourself when the flock recognizes your cloth decoys fluttering in the wind. Instead, you’ll be plucking some geese and getting ready for some quality meals.

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