Dick Pinney's Guidelines: Good scouting equals good hunting
The dates of the season and the overall regulations were to protect our migratory Canada geese which had been loosing ground in numbers, with only theories to why. So the timing of the special early season is set before any amount of migrants were in the state. There is no visual difference between the two distinct populations. And to call our locally-bred geese non-migratory is kind of a misnomer, as these birds do migrate often, with a large percentage of them being found late in the winter season on the saltwater bays well south of us.
And in spite of the considerable harvest of our September hunt, the population state-wide has grown, much to the disgust of these birds fouling golf courses, athletic fields and those large lawns at corporate headquarters. Although it’s fun to see the geese on the Portsmouth Rotary Circle, it’s not so good as driver distraction and the fouling of the grass there just adds to the problems these birds are causing.
We love to hunt Canada geese anytime we can and do get out at least a couple dozen times a year. These hunts vary wildly in their success, from harvesting a limit in a few minutes to spending hours hiding in standing corn or the bushes and never even hearing a honk. We have no complaints about this as we say, that’s why thy call it hunting and not killing.
What we do have is an objection on the possession limits of Canada geese, especially in the special September season. The possession limit and how to mark and manage your birds after taking them is both unreasonable and not terribly clear. Both state and federal regulations cover this hunt. Possession limits are generally two daily limits. So if you want to hunt for three days and already have two day’s limit in possession, even if these geese you’ve previously harvest have been dressed, frozen and identified with a tag, you are not allowed to take another goose next day or anytime after, while those previously taken birds are in your possession.
The rules also state that one wing has to be still attached to the goose so it can be recognized. As a general practice, almost all the goose hunters that we know or have hunted with will just breast the bird out and save just the breast and legs. The rest of the goose has little use except for a possible stew or soup. So this places just about the entire group of goose hunters in jeopardy of being charged with a violation, with absolutely no intention of breaking the law. Any wonder why the special season hunter numbers have never increased to what was originally projected?
These rules govern the regular goose season as well, but the regular goose season was not designed to decrease the goose numbers as the special season is. The regular goose season is managed to produce a stable population that will support hunting.
Enough of the crying. Here’s a tip that will make your September hunt more effective. Scout for geese resting during the day on water (roost ponds), usually small pounds and slow running rivers. Do not hunt there there. When geese are pressured by “roost hunting” they will usually leave and find another roost. By finding out where they fly each morning to feed, usually in fields, you can hunt them often and they might jump fields but they will not leave that roost pond.
And scout, scout and scout. Good scouting will produce good hunting.
Dick Pinney’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.
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