Goose hunters outlook improving
I stood at the edge of my driveway with my head cocked to one side and a smile on my face, the big group of speckle bellied geese finally came into view and the picture was now complete. I turned to walk back into my yard to continue a little boat maintenance and I froze again, this time it was snow geese that stopped my forward progress. I don’t know what it is but it seems I hear geese almost everywhere these days, sort of like you think you hear the phone ring when you are in the shower, you are not quite sure but you have to stop and listen anyway.
For legions of waterfowl hunters the goose represents a regal and extremely challenging quarry. Many hunters believe the mature snow goose is perhaps the toughest of all game birds to hunt, they have great eyesight and their instincts are incredible. On a typical goose hunt most hunters take plenty of the juveniles, they are by far the easiest to lure into shotgun range. Mature snows, with their noticeably whiter plumage and bigger bodies, tend to be decoy wary and much tougher to fool. A true big mature snow is indeed a trophy to be proud of as any hunter can attest to.
The flocks of these great birds invade the Texas coastal prairies and afford hunters some outstanding action. Guides along the coastal prairie will tell you the most successful usually coincide with foggy mornings. The overcast skies and foggy weather make it much easier decoy these wary birds into your spread. During the last weeks of the second split it seems like the geese start making the transition from rice stubble to plowed fields where they are dining on all sorts of different foods. Hunters with access to plowed ground and green fields have the upper hand for the rest of the season as the menu will change once these birds ready themselves for the migration back north. Green field hunts in December and January can be awesome as the geese load up on the protein rich grass, sometimes it’s difficult to even shoot them out of a field. I have seen farmers drive into green fields to work and the geese will get up just long
enough for the farmer to pass and then they go right back to same spot and continue eating. Late regular season hunts and early conservation season hunts will more than likely be better in these green fields.
Speaking of the conservation season, Texas could stand to take a page out of Louisiana’s playbook. Over across the river the goose hunters get to take advantage of the conservation season during the split between duck seasons, talk about a bargain. If Texas would allow hunters to be able to hunt under the special conservation rules during the regular season you can bet there would be a drop in the overall population. The problem with allowing the special rules to go into effect that go along with the conservation season is that you are technically illegal by normal standards. During the conservation season you can hunt with an unplugged gun, you can now carry 5 shells instead of just 3. Also during the conservation season hunters can use electronic calling devices, these are illegal during the regular season. One possible way to get around this is to make it illegal to possess any bird other than a light goose if you are hunting
with an unplugged gun or a calling device, if you have a duck in your possession you would be in violation of the law. This probably will never happen but it sure makes you wonder how good it could really be.
For now though hunters will have to make due with the birds that are here and wait until January to break out the callers and unplug their shotguns. The only problem with having to wait until special season comes around is that there are a bunch of geese already leaving and heading back north, the special season is really only good until about Valentines day. After the middle of February these geese are spooky and flying high, not a good combination for hunters.
As for right now the hunting is good and should do nothing but get better. The next time you hear that faint noise above and look up and see that familiar line of geese in the shape of a “V” you can bet you’re not the only one looking to the sky and wondering.
Photo: Snow geese have been crashing the party lately and there are no complaints from happy waterfowlers.