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Dick Pinney's Guidelines: Goose hunting worth all the hard work

IN THE heat of August, it's hard for me to concentrate on plans for the upcoming early Canada goose season that starts early in September.

Even though this early hunt has been around for a couple of decades, my mindset when it comes to goose hunts doesn't allow scenes of sweating brows, uncut corn or grain fields and swatting mosquitoes that seem to be supercharged in those September conditions.

But it's coming soon and the Dickster has to come to grips with it! There's claybird shooting at Major Waldron's skeet field on Sunday mornings to make sure that we haven't lost our touch with a 12-bore. Not that we've ever been an Olympic-skilled shooter! But we do like to hit as many as we miss to be on an even keel.

Then we have to make arrangements with our perennial September goose hunt partner, Joe Kenneck of Exeter. This is a strange story. Joe and I hunted from my camp in upcountry Maine the first time in the same time frame as the famous 9/11 attack on our country. We had planned on a few more days but, in sort of a trance, we couldn't wait to get back home to family and friends, astounded and fearing for what had happened and what may be happening.

For those reasons, we were so traumatized that we quit going on that September hunt for 10 years and didn't renew our partnership and hunt until last year, when I finally came to grips that we could go back and enjoy some hunting and companionship without being influenced by those awful days of anguish a hatred of the 10 previous years.

Joe and I did and had a good time and killed a few geese and ate grilled-with-bacon goose breasts more days than we didn't. (This many be out of sequence, but the key to eating grilled goose meat is to cook it quite rare. When doing this it's very tender and yummy. If you over cook goose meat it is incredibly dry and tough!)

When we're at camp we don't have a tough schedule, as both of us are well beyond high school age! But we do rise early, have a big pot of coffee going quickly, do our morning chores as quickly as possible and are on our way to a pre-determined hunting ground that we had scouted previously.

It's seldom that we hit the same place more than one day at a time as the birds become pretty wise to decoy set-ups, and the second day you hunt the same place almost never is as good as the first day.

Our hunt is over in a couple hours after daylight, as the morning flight lasts only a few precious hours. So what we do is often scout for new ground to hunt, contact land owners if necessary and plan our next day's hunt. Then we hit our favorite breakfast restaurant for a mid-morning brunch. Back at camp, we'll hang out and usually take a nap. And if we didn't limit out in the morning, which is often because of big daily bag limits in the September hunt, we'll do an easy decoy set of a couple dozen and hide in the bushes until quitting time, often being able to add to the day's take of birds.

We didn't do it last year, but we also have the choice to engage in some late-season fly fishing for trout and salmon, and we doubt that we will do that on this year's trip as it seems like, when we're hunting geese, we have this concentration on the hunt and can't seem to turn it off!

My goose hunting had a great turn toward success when three of my very good friends awarded me a very good goose call and at that time a national championship call — a Shawn Mann “Eastern Shoreman” flute call.

Using a recording of Shawn's technique, we quickly became efficient with this call and we entered a new realm of goose calling and success.

We quickly learned how to manipulate the small flocks, doubles and singles, into our gun range as we'd also learned a lot from different skilled hunters on setting our decoy flock. There's no substitute from being taught in person or, if that's not possible, from tapes or DVDs.

My last outing with my new Savage/Steven's over/under 12-gauge at the skeet range surprised me! We only missed one clay bird in the first 26 shots, shooting report pairs. This routine immediately releases a second clay target on your gun's first report. My next 26 shots we only missed two targets!

For this old bird, that's not too shabby! So don't pass the word to the September geese that the Dickster is on the rampage. And give thanks to Mother Nature for providing these kind of experiences that outdoor people live for!

And drop us an email at while you're at it.

Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at


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