With the start of resident goose seasons just weeks away, now is the time to begin your scouting efforts to insure your success. Extreme drought conditions continue to persist throughout the nation and have had a significant impact on the location and daily movements of local goose populations. With smaller natural marshes and creeks void of water in many states, resident Canada geese are concentrated near deeper water impoundments in suburban areas and expected to have a significant impact on early season harvest rates.
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While many drought stricken areas have had increased levels of precipitation over the past few weeks, the amount of rain needed to recharge local marshes and streams seems nearly unobtainable in the short-term. As a result, early season hunters will have to adapt to conditions to increase their chance of success in the weeks ahead.
The success of average early season goose hunter is often entrenched in a collection long-term contacts and access areas. Years of networking and scouting provided them a handful of quality hunting spots in traditional, high-use areas – with excellent harvests a bi-product of their access inventory. Facing the current extreme drought conditions and changes in roosting locations, crop quality and harvest schedules, this early season will be everything and anything but traditional.
Under any normal circumstance, scouting and networking for land access are a waterfowl hunters’ best chance at increasing their success. Considering the current environmental conditions, scouting is a absolute necessity this season.
Less water will result in higher concentrations of birds in limited areas with suitable habitat. As one would expect, these areas will also attract an increased number of hunters as well. Quality calling and decoy spreads will play vital role in these competitive arenas. Hunters that pay attention to proper concealment and increased motion in their decoys will hedge their bets significantly for a successful hunt.
Until the few remaining days of your early season, hunters should avoid the temptation of hunting the roost. Unleashing a barrage of fire over roosting water will result in geese relocating to safer water and bring an abrupt end to your window of opportunity in that location. Hunters that seek and gain access to active feeding areas around large roosts will enjoy higher harvest rates and ongoing success.
It should be noted that running traffic (decoying birds on a flight path to active feeding grounds) is much more difficult with resident geese than their migrant cousins. Resident geese are much more familiar with local terrain and stick to very specific patterns. To say they are creatures of habit would be an understatement. Groups of juvenile birds are the most susceptible to hunters running traffic, especially if older birds are harvested early and the young of the year are left to make decisions in their own. If you intend to run traffic, look for the later part of the season in high pressured areas to provide the best opportunity as local flocks become thinned, confused and looking for safety in numbers.
Waterfoweler.com encourages out early season hunters to verify and changes in state or local regulations before heading to the field. Early season hunts are a great time to introduce new recruits to the world of waterfowl hunting, as harvests are usually good and the weather mild enough for young, first-time hunters.
Until our next report, get out and do your early season scouting today.