As waterfowl season nears and duck hunters are taking advantage of the September teal migration, many waterfowlers are failing to capitalize on the early season Canada geese. For many hardcore hunters, the early goose season prepares them for the upcoming waterfowl migration. So make the most of this opportunity and use the resident Canada geese to kick‑start your waterfowl season.
Many hunters will agree these early season honkers have become much harder to hunt, even comparing them to the seasoned and educated migrators of the late season. If you recklessly pursue these birds, you could be left twiddling your thumbs. These early birds are ridiculously smart, adaptable, and ultra-sensitive to the pressures of hunting.
Just like the late season migrators, hunting September honkers relies heavily upon your scouting efforts. Successful scouting involves locating freshly harvested fields. The resident geese key-in on recently cut wheat and alfalfa fields. In areas where agriculture is limited, the local goose population will focus on the available green grasses. In general, scouting for resident geese is the same as scouting for any other waterfowl. Once you locate a group of geese, follow their movements and note their exact feeding and resting locations. The resident population will know every available food and water source, along with the best times to use each of them. They can also pinpoint the slightest change in a certain area, which can make fooling them tough but can make them fairly predictable.
In late season goose sets, more is typically better, but for early season Canada geese, small decoy spreads are more natural and inviting. A typical early season decoy spread uses one to two dozen decoys. For these birds, decoy placement is critical. With early season geese, you must set up where the birds have been visiting for the past week and imitate the placement of the family groups you observed while scouting.
Unlike the effectiveness of persistent calling during the late season, September geese may not require or want to hear much calling. These birds often respond best to relaxed, soft honks, moans, and clucks. Instead of relying on heavy calling, let your scouting and decoys do the work for you.
Once you have scouted and created a game plan, your next big challenge is concealment. Freshly harvested fields offer little in the likes of cover. If your plan includes hunting fresh-cut fields, you will need an appropriately concealed layout blind. With the very limited vegetation, you must effectively “mud” your layout blind. You can also add grass that closely matches the color of the harvested crop. These early geese are usually less cautious of standing vegetation. If standing cover is available, hunters should use this vegetation for a more natural appearance.
As the season approaches and you participate in the September teal migration, do not overlook the challenges of hunting the resident Canada goose population. Kick off your season with a mixed bag and prepare for the adventures of the approaching waterfowl season.