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Outdoors notebook: Opener for geese is bountiful

A group of 10 goose hunters only got half a limit, but no complaints could be heard Tuesday morning, the opener of the early Canada goose season.

Ten shooters and four observers, mostly Safari Club International members, took up positions on a five-acre pond in Elma for the annual season opener. These outings produce good harvest numbers, and this year was exceptional. The bag limit for the early season was raised to 15 geese per hunter, which allowed shooters a 150 bag limit of birds. They shot 75 and were happy.

This year’s crew, which includes many in the Keicher family, held this shoot as an informal stag party for Don Keicher’s son Donald V. Keicher, 31, of Lancaster prior to his wedding day on Saturday.

Typical of these season openers, the birds start the day feeding on cut farm fields or crop areas and head to what hunters call “loafing ponds” at mid-morning to spend the rest of the day in and around water.

That same shooting sequence occurred for Ryan O’Neill of Holland, who hunted the Gowanda/Collins area with his dad, Jim O’Neill, cousin Scott Gretzler and friend Anthony Quick.

O’Neill and his team took 45 geese by mid-morning. “I was surprised to see birds come in at 7:30,” he said of the season start that usually sees most of the shooting later in the morning.

Early Canada goose season continues to Sept. 25, allowing a five-shot count for shotguns and a three-day possession limit. The regular season reopens Oct. 24, with varying bag limits for areas of Western New York. To view all waterfowl season dates, visit

VerHague Honored

Environmental Conservation Officer Nathan VerHague was selected for the Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association’s Officer of the Year Award.

VerHague, a 12-year veteran of ECO service, was born and raised in Niagara County and patrols areas of that county. He was cited for his extensive training background and public service beyond his patrol duties.

VerHague was presented his award in August during the annual meeting of the New York Conservation Officer’s Association on Long Island.