Upstate Outdoors

Last Chance For Canada Geese

by Phillip Gentry

Upstate Outdoors
February 13, 2020 - 10:24 am
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For all of the seemingly carefree lifestyles that Canada geese enjoy in the Upstate of South Carolina, the life of a goose is actually pretty treacherous. The reasons for that is because resident Canada geese have a longer “open season” on them than any other waterfowl species.

You may recall seeing multitudes of the large gray and black birds lounging around the lake or local park during the spring and summer, but come September 1, the first of four hunting seasons for Canada geese occupies the whole month.

Later, there is a week or so at Thanksgiving when Canada geese are legal to hunt along with most other waterfowl species. The third season then extends from mid-December until the end of January all the while the birds again have to be mindful of their surroundings.

But just when it seems waterfowl season is over for good, an extended late season is available this year as in most years from Valentine’s Day- February 14 until February 29.

Late season hunting for Canada geese, which are resident birds that no longer succumb to the urge to migrate North or South with the seasons, can be as challenging as water fowling gets. As their popularity has increased over the years, so has hunting pressure.

Greer native Donnie Pearson is an avid fan of goose hunting no matter what the season.

 “I’d much prefer to hunt geese around water than out in open fields,” said Pearson. “I believe it’s easier to find them on farm ponds and cattle holes than a grain field. Plus, it’s almost impossible to get a farmer or landowner to let you come on his property to hunt ducks, but you tell them you’re looking for geese and they lighten up. A lot of land owners don’t care too much for geese and want them off their property.”

Although Pearson is a believer in the appeal of decoys for late season goose hunting. He forgoes much of the traditional water fowling standards when chasing geese.

“A medium to large farm pond that has a pasture around it is a great place to find geese, even during the late season,” he said. “When hunting these locations, you can forget fancy blinds and setups. If you throw up a pop-up blind on the edge of a pond, especially one that has very little cover around it, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. My best success comes from sitting under a tree or bush, hidden from the air, and just being still.”

In order to be legal to hunt geese, water fowlers must use shot no smaller than size 2 –which is Pearson’s preferred load in his 12-gauge shotgun. He’d rather have more shot than bigger pellets so he keeps his loads on the lower end of the legal scale. He’s also a big believer in improved cylinder chokes, finding that less restriction makes for truer flights of steel shot.

“It requires a lot of patience, because they may fly in first thing, later in the day, or sometimes when coming in to roost at the end of the day,” said Pearson.

Open grass or grain fields are another goose hunting option for resident geese. Field hunting will require the use of layout blinds or natural camouflage to keep from being seen. Windy, nasty weather days are best for hunting geese in open fields. The use of calls and motion devices such as flags can help or hurt depending on how much pressure geese have seen in the area.

The bag limit for the late goose season is 5 per hunter per day. Additional waterfowl regulations also apply.

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Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM, 101.5 in Anderson, or online at 1063WORD.radio.com.

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