It no longer is called a “nuisance” season, but the early “special” goose season has helped in reducing an overabundant presence of resident Canada geese that crowd area fields and wetlands.
Harvest numbers for the early season were increased from five to eight geese in the past. Continued high bird numbers have prompted Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife officials to add additional bag limits and regulations for the special, early season that begins today one half hour before sunrise and continues until Sept. 25 in most areas of the state.
The daily bag limit has been raised to 15 birds, with a possession limit of a three-day harvest. Shooting hours had ended at sunset. This year legal shooting will be extended to one-half hour after sunset.
Hunters will be allowed to use electronic calling devices to draw birds into a more effective shooting range.
All shot loads must be non-toxic material, but during this September season hunters can use shotguns capable of holding more than three shells at a time but not more than seven shells while hunting for geese.
Special bag limits and field regulations are set for areas near adjacent states with rules differing from these newly adopted New York regulations. Federal regulations do not allow the special measures for Canada geese whenever any other waterfowl hunting seasons are open.
For goose hunting in Western New York areas, Sept. 1 to 25, new hunting hours and shot count prevails.
Pre-planning is best for all hunts, and the early goose season calls for some scouting and field groundwork. During two of the last three early-season goose-hunt opening days the temperatures rose to near or above 90 degrees by mid morning.
During the regular goose season, which begins Oct. 26, the trick is to be in the blind with decoys set well before the start of legal shooting. Resident geese during the early season often roost/nest away from feeding areas until well after sunrise. Hunters who pull sets at 9 a.m. often miss out on incoming flocks of Canadas. Since the start of the early season, the 10 -o’clock hour has been magical.
Many an early-season hunt has begun with decoys set by 9:30 a.m. and the harvest and deeks hauled in by 11 a.m. Incoming resident birds fly much lower than migrating geese seen during the regular season. Calls need not be as loud and as frequent as those made during the later season.
All early-hunt outings should include good plans for meat preparation. A full bag of geese would be too much for even the largest of coolers. A sharp knife, cleaning area and a cooler to wash and cool breast meat — and leg quarters if you are a skilled and patient processor — would be good.
The early season promises to be productive through to the Sept. 25 finale. To review the new regulations, go to dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28496.