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Outdoor Journal: DEC increases limit for Canada geese harvest

Thursday, August 29, 2013
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Sunday, a half-hour before sunup, thousands of men and women throughout the state will be either huddled down in a cut corn or crop field or hidden on the edge of a lake, river, pond or wetland awaiting this year’s first flight of Canada geese.

We’ve seen them fly over our schools, back yards, golf courses and parks, and know what they leave behind. Since 1990, New York state has had an early September season, initiated because of the continuing growth of what are called resident Canada geese.

Resident geese are hatched in New York, and they’ve become quite a nuisance. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, there are more than 200,000 resident Canada geese in the state. DEC would like to reduce the population to a much more manageable 80,000, so, this year, the legal daily limit has been increased from eight to 15 per day. I know my group will do our part.

Each year, I receive my share of anti-hunting emails and telephone calls, especially when I mention waterfowl hunting. Obviously, they don’t visit areas where geese feed daily, and probably aren’t aware that a single Canada goose eats three to four pounds of grass per day, which creates two to three pounds of “waste” per day. These droppings are not only unsightly, they can also make people sick and add nutrients and bacteria like E. coli to our lakes and streams.

Early Canada goose season will be open Sunday through Wednesday, Sept. 25, in most of the goose hunting zones. Legal shooting hours are from a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset. Last year, quitting time was sunset.

New York is divided into nine goose hunting zones, five of which will open Sept. 1-25. These include the Northeast, West Central, South, East Central and Hudson Valley. The Central and Eastern Long Island zones will be open Sept. 3-30, and all have 15-goose daily limits, as well. The Lake Champlain zone also opens Tuesday, and closes Sept. 25. This zone has a daily limit of only five per day. The Western Long Island zone opens Oct. 5 and closes Oct. 20, and has an eight-goose daily limit.

For more information about waterfowl hunting in New York state, including public hunting areas around the state, go to

http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28175.html or contact any DEC wildlife office.

New regulations

The first, which I mentioned earlier, is the extra half-hour allowed to hunt after sunset, but the next two were surprises. This year, Canada goose hunters will be allowed to use electronic calling devices and shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, but no more than seven at a time, but these changes won’t be in effect Sept. 21-22 in the Northeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zone. It’s the Youth Waterfowl Hunt weekend there.

Reminders

Last year’s hunting license with the small-game privileges is required to hunt prior to Oct. 1. Hunters 12-15 years old are required to have junior hunting licenses. All waterfowl hunters 16 and older must have a 2013 federal migratory bird hunting “duck” stamp.

Available at any U.S. Post Office, online at www.duckstamp.com or by phone at 1-800-852-4897, the stamp costs $15.

As soon as you get the stamp, be sure to sign it across the face to make it valid. Also, you’ll need to register with the state Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program each year.

HIP registration is free, but must be renewed each year because it expires June 30. To register for HIP, call 1-888-427-5447 or go online at www.NY-HIP.com.

Getting permission

Over the years, I’ve knocked on quite a few doors seeking permission to hunt rural properties and it’s not always easy to get a “yes.” Being polite is obviously important, and a “thank you” is required regardless of the answer.

If permission is gained, be sure to find out exactly where you can and cannot hunt. Find out if you are allowed to bring hunters with you, and if so, how many, where you should park and tell the landowner what your vehicle looks like. I’ve found it’s best to limit your hunting party to no more than three. You should also offer the property owner an oppor-

tunity to hunt with you and ask if he or she would like several of your “cleaned” geese.

When you hunt, leave the property the way you found it every day you hunt there. Be sure to clean up spent shells and papers. And lastly, when the season has ended, thank them and ask if it’s OK to stop in next season and ask to renew your permission. Don’t take it for granted!

Setting up

For quite a few years, I’ve been lying in a ditch (usually with water at least knee-high) and/or covering up myself with corn stalks or brush while on my back on the cold, hard ground.

That’s over! This year, I’ll be quite comfortable with my add-ition of the Bass Pro Shops RedHead full-frame layout blind. It has a light and sturdy steel frame covered with a 600 denier polyester fabric shell in Realtree MAX-4 that blends in with those corn and crop fields perfectly.

Inside are padded adjustable back and headrests, good for those little pre-sunrise naps while awaiting that first morning flight’s honking wake-up alarm. And there’s no worry of those sharp eyes catching any hand movements when you’re calling, because you’re totally enclosed.

This layout blind has a fast-open door system that makes it easy to spring into action and introduce them to some of that 12-gauge non-toxic shot. The RedHead Layout Blind, when set up, meas-ures 34x74x14 inches, and closed, 17x55x6 inches, weighs just 23.5 pounds, and with its shoulder carrying strap, it’s “easy in, easy out,” sets up and comes down very quickly (www.basspro.com).

Geese calling

Because of this year’s new reg-ulations, I’ll have both hands on my 12-gauge. I intend to replace my old goose call with the Johnny Stewart Executioner electronic caller with added Canada goose call.

This call is one of many that Hunter Specialties offers that can be added to the Johnny Stewart electronic call right from their Digital Download Center on their website (www.hunterspec.com) for just $4.

The Executioner comes with 100 pre-loaded Johnny Stewart sounds. The unit has 4GB of internal memory and 32 pre-sets, a 300-yard remote range, and the base unit has a full set of controls.

There are three calling modes: standard, which plays sounds precisely as recorded; sound shuffler, which shuffles sound segments of the original loop so the game never hears the same sequence the same way; and custom, which plays the calls as you program them. Waterfowlers know that calls are sometimes too routine, causing birds to flare off.

The speaker is available in nine- or 18-watt output. You’ll be able to get distant honkers’ attention a lot sooner with this electric caller than with a mouth call. I’ll have more on this caller in the near future when the coyote and deer seasons begin.

For full details on the Executioner and all the company’s electronic calls, check their website.

Hex on the geese

After a little experimenting with shot shell loads for geese, I found that the Winchester Blind Side Hex Steel Shot definitely brings them down.

Blind Side Hex combined with their new Diamond Cut Wad puts more pellets on target by offering a 25 percent larger kill zone, resulting in quicker, cleaner kills. The uniquely shaped, six-sided multi-edged (hex) shot allows for a more efficient packing into the wad’s shot cup and provides up to 15 percent more pellets and hits with 250 percent more trauma.

The diamond cut wad design is also unique in that it is choke-responsive by providing consistency when shot through improved cylinder, modified and full-choke systems. Equally important, Winchester’s Drylok Super Steel System seals out water and moisture and is corrosion-resistant for improved patterning and consistent velocities (www.winchester.-com).

Take advantage of this early season and the mild weather and do a little goose hunting. It’s a challenging and exciting way to spend your September.

If you’ve never tried it, I’m quite sure when you do hear that first honk and shortly thereafter see that flight, your adrenaline level will definitely start to rise, especially when they lock up those big wings and start to drop into your decoys.

 
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