It's been a long hard winter and, according to the woodchuck, we aren't done yet. Well, I don't know how much of that is true, but one thing I'm sure of is, local waterfowl hunters are able to take part in a spring goose hunt Feb. 23 through March 10.
The special spring goose season allows hunters to take five birds per day, and a current small-game hunting license, HIPP number, federal waterfowl stamp and non-toxic shot are required by law. Hunting hours are set a half hour before sunrise until sunset.
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, here are a few things I have discovered. As always, these are only suggestions and each setup 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 or 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 between success and failure. While I am a huge fan of full-body flocked decoys, shells and goose-sized blinds are great and tossing in few dozen of windsocks work great.
Calling is an important part of any successful goose hunt, but proper calling can be more obvious during the spring. Some of the geese we are hunting have been chased up and down the East Coast, but some birds will most likely be local birds. These birds have seen just about every setup and call, which makes them fun to call and decoy.
This is an exciting time for local waterfowl hunters, not only with time spent in the field, but also with what we will learn during this special spring goose season.
As always, make sure you check out the DEC website and/or state regulation books for all regulations, laws and changes.