Outdoors With Craig Robbins
WNY Spring Goose Hunting Is Upon Us
It’s been a long winter and according to the woodchuck this past week we aren’t done yet.
Well, I don’t know how much of that is true, but one thing I’m sure of is this: local waterfowl hunters are able to take part in a spring goose hunt March 2-10. The special spring goose season allows hunters to take five birds per day. A current small-game hunting license, HIPP number, federal waterfowl stamp, non-toxic shot are required by law. Hunting hours are set as a half-hour before sunrise until sunset. There are special laws for the spring season, a couple are electronic calls are allowed and we are allowed to use shotguns that can hold up to seven shells. Make sure you check with NYS hunting regs book or NYSDEC website to understand all rules and laws before heading into the field.
Those are the rules. Unfortunately, that’s the easy part. Finding areas/fields/water where geese are feeding is the most important piece of the spring goose hunting puzzle. For those who have never hunted spring geese before, knowing what to do and when to do it will be the key to success. The learning curve will be steep if you all want to be successful.
Over the years of hunting spring geese there are a few things I have discovered. As always, these are only suggestions and each set-up should be fine-tuned to your style of hunting.
Decoying spring geese is not a sport for the weak or the lazy, as it’s often very difficult to do. As winter changes to spring, and the snow and frost line diminish, it leaves a sloppy ground in the process. This makes walking in and out of fields extremely challenging and very tiring. I can honestly admit there are times when I have spent a couple hours setting up, because of walking our decoys in one load at a time.
The key to making this process efficient is, of course, to make as few trips as possible into the field. And up until now that involved some ingenious ideas, like attempting to drive on a muddy field, which is not necessarily a good idea. We have found that using a large sleigh to get decoys in and out works great.
Spring goose hunting is a numbers game. Knowing the proper number of decoys to set up is the difference from success and failure. While I’m a huge fan of full-body flocked decoys, shells and goose-sized blinds are great, and tossing in few dozen wind socks works great, too.
Calling is an imperative part of any successful goose hunt, but proper calling can be more obvious than during the spring. Some of the geese we are hunting have been chased up and down the east coast, but some of the birds will mostly likely be local birds. These birds have seen just about every set-up and call, which makes them fun to call and decoy.
This is an exciting time for local waterfowl hunters, not only with the time in the field, but also probably just as fun is what we will learn during this special spring goose season.