How to Target and Bag, More Early Season Geese
Late August into early September can be some of the best goose hunting for the entire season. It doesn't matter where you are in the country; the birds are fresh and uneducated, the weather is comfortable, and plenty of crops are in the field to help you and your crew hide beside your spread.
As the first day of the season approaches, new and avid hunters scour the internet, scroll through social media, and read up on every piece of information to make sure that they can kick off and have a great waterfowl season. I wanted to share three of the best pieces of information every hunter should know going into the beginning of each season that will help you be more successful than the last.
Scout Earlier in the Summer for Goose Hunting
If you aren't first, you're last. The best way to make sure you can lock down an "X" for opening day is to get on the road and scout before anyone else. Throughout the spring and summer, you can locate nesting pairs and watch them hatch their chicks. Eventually, as the chicks get bigger and can fly, the little family groups will start roosting in areas near other family groups.
If you can find time throughout the summer to drive around and locate areas with a substantial number of local geese, you will have an easier time locking down a field come opener. You will eliminate spending hours wandering aimlessly down dirt roads searching for birds that only fly in the first and last half hour of the day to feed. By scouting earlier on, you can determine which fields will be harvested first and which will be the season's first juicy feeds. Put in the time, and it will pay off.
Do Not Hunt the Roost When Hunting Goose
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a goose hunter is hunting the roost. A "roost" is a term used to describe the bodies of water that geese, ducks, and other water-dwelling birds use to seek shelter and sleep during times when they aren't out and about or feeding. Those areas where you spent all your time during the summer scouting and watching your local flocks get comfortable and happy can change in one morning if you make the mistake of hunting it.
The best way to ensure your birds stick around longer is to target the fields they are using to feed in rather than hunting the water they seek shelter in and sleep. In some instances, if you hunt a roost, some will return and continue to use it. But in almost all cases, if you do decide to hunt a roost, the birds will find a different one and often vacate the entire area. I mean, if my house were haunted, I would move in a heartbeat. Try your hardest to make sure that your birds don't fear where they live. It will benefit you, as well as other hunters in the area, and you will have a fun and much more consistent start to your season!
Find a High Hill, Dump the Trailers, and Call
One of the most exciting hunts I have ever been on was in early September last year, on the first cold front of the season. I and several of my hunting buddies went out the night before and got permission to a field with a large hill and great visibility. We set a massive spread of probably 35-40 dozen decoys. When we woke up, it was mid-30-degree temperatures with a strong north wind. These are the perfect conditions for migrators. As soon as the sun came up, the geese started rolling. Eight guys, blowing on our Molt Gear calls, as loud as we possibly could, calling at birds that were so high up, they looked like specks of pepper up in the clouds. We had birds dropping down into our laps from what seemed like a mile in the sky. We ended with an 8-man limit of Canada's, seven extremely lost Snow, and three leg bands from different states.
The first cold front of the year is an incredibly great time to hunt! Hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of birds, will get off their roost and head south in search of warmer climates and newer resources. Because these migrating geese are not normally familiar with the area, nor are they as pressured as the very educated local geese, if you can create a loud and enticing place for them to land, you can typically get them to drop altitude and play.
Suppose you check the weather and see that first cold front in the forecast. Grab a few loud and talented callers and a bunch of decoys, bundle up, and take advantage of this opportunity only once a year. A photo after a successful hail-Mary hunt looks a lot better than a photo of the couch you decided to sit on instead…