Where has the summer gone? It just seems like yesterday that the hot topic was what the spring and summer fishing season was going to be like. Despite what some local well-meaning folks have been saying, the 2013 fishing season has been one of the finest in recent memory.
The 2013-14 hunting licenses sales are already under way and the first round of DMP permits are currently on sale.
Sept. 1 starts squirrel and early goose hunting season. While it's often said squirrel hunting doesn't get good until the acorns and leaves start dropping, September has always been a good month to get out and wait out some big grays and the occasional black. For the record, 2013-14 squirrel season dates for Chautauqua County are Sept.1 through Feb. 28, with a bag limit of six per day.
If you're looking for some early-season waterfowl action, Sept. 1 also starts the 2013-14 waterfowl season with the early goose season. This year, like the past few, the local goose population has exploded. There have been some changes for the September season. There is a limit of 15 per day, shooting hours have been expanded to a half hour after sundown and the use of electronic calls is allowed.
Again, these changes are for the September goose season only and always check local and federal regulation hunting guides.
With more than enough geese to hunt, the next step is finding ground to hunt and a daily limit of eight birds.
We prefer cut fields that are close to some type of water. It generally doesn't matter how big the water is, just as long it is big enough to hold geese. Over the years I have had 30 birds on a pond no bigger than most backyards in the city. Geese like to be around other geese; it's their natural protection instinct.
Early-season goose hunters can never have too many fields to hunt. Geese aren't the smartest of creatures, but they do understand being shot at on the same field isn't all that healthy.
One of the main ingredients to success in September is finding fresh-cut corn, oats and alfalfa fields. It doesn't look like we are going to have corn fields cut for the early season this year, so finding a good field may be difficult.
Getting your decoys set up early in the morning long before sunup will increase your odds in catching geese just as they come off the lakes, ponds or out of the swamps. Looking for a free meal will send geese looking at these fresh-cut fields.
During the first part of September, use what some call a setup. It's a basic setup with your decoys placed in a V format. Fine tuning this setup with a couple decoys outside the V will set your spread apart from more traditional spreads.
Using family-group spreads are best during the first part of the season, keeping a watch as birds come in to your set and how they react will help you in future set ups. As sportsmen we must remember to watch our quarry and let them tell us what they want.
During the September season, most of the birds we are hunting in the Southern Tier are still traveling in their family groups.
Once birds are spotted, lay flat on the ground in the middle of your spread. Staying perfectly still, let the birds circle your spread and make their move.
One of the toughest things to do in hunting is staying still as 20 wild geese fly a few yards off the ground talking back to you. If the lead bird or any adults in the flock spot anything out of place, they will turn tail and be gone.
On more than one occasion birds have turned away from a great setup with one movement. It always surprises me when I tell a group of hunters not to look up and they turn to look up.
It must be a ''guy thing.''
Calling is essential and that is why I like to teach some basic calls to be used during the early season. Always remember we want to convince the passing birds that all is safe. The biggest problem I see with first-time callers, especially the early season, is overcalling and calling too loud. Oftentimes more is not better.
Using a feeding call, much like we do for duck hunting, is probably the most effective call a beginner can utilize. The come-back call is another good call, which can be used to bring birds back that have passed by your setup for whatever.
Overcalling is the biggest mistake new hunters make. Listening to the birds as they circle your decoy spread and talking back to them will do more to filling your limit than new decoys or a gun. Knowing when to get on the call and when to sweet talk the birds takes experience, but once learned it is a great skill.
Later in September, most of the resident population has been shot at and is very leery to calling or coming into a field that has been shot up. That is when working new fields in important.
Having a good relationship with landowners is a must and must be done early in the year. Hunting is a privilege not a right, so always ask permission to hunt first.