For the first time the Commission has elected to participate in the Light Goose (Snow Goose) Conservation Order Season, which begins Feb. 15, 2016. This season will allow unplugged guns, electronic calls, extended shooting hours and no daily bag limit. A free permit is required. More information was available at www.ncwildlife.org/lightgoose on Sept. 1. These expanded hunting methods are not allowed during the regular light goose season that starts on Oct. 13, and a daily bag limit of 25 applies during the regular light goose season. A Light Goose Conservation Order Season Permit is not required to participate in the regular season.
The full line up of season dates and bag limits can be found at the Commission’s website, but some of most interest to mountain waterfowlers are: Ducks – October 7-10, November 14 – December 5 and December 19 – January 30. Canada Geese Resident Zone: October 7 – 17, November 14 – December 5, and December 19 – February 13. It is good to see another extended regular season for resident geese. Looking forward to more opportunities to get out. I also plan on looking in to where I can get in on some of the Snow Goose hunting in the Spring in order to extend my hunting season.
Thanks to submission deadlines I’m writing this before the opening of the dove season which started this past Saturday. I did get out that afternoon and on Monday and those results will be in next week’s column. I did make the opening day of the Resident Goose season that started September 1st. My report is not positive. I did not see or hear any geese although according to the farmer they had been seen feeding in the field in the past. I thought I had a pretty good setup laying in a drainage ditch with decoys in the field. I’ve talked to other folks who said they haven’t seen many geese in fields. I think two things have affected their behavior.
First, and I can’t explain it, I think the low water levels due to the drought on lakes and on the French Broad River have changed their behavior patterns. They are not feeding as early in the morning or late evening as normal. The other thing is that a lot of farms, like the one I hunt, are all cutting corn for silage at the same time. That means the geese don’t have to visit their usual haunts to feed. Things will settle down in the next week or so. I’ve also lined up another farm to hunt so I can rotate between the two.
What I did see plenty of on my goose hunt was crows. In fact to the point of distraction! The field behind my setup had at least fifty to sixty crows in it at one time making one heck of a racket. So with no geese coming in it looks like it’s time to mix in a little crow hunting with dove and goose. At least with crows it is a target rich environment and I’m being encouraged by the land owner to kill as many as I can.
I don’t do this very often but would like to put in a plug for one of my favorite conservation organizations, the Ruffed Grouse Society. We recently held our Asheville Conservation banquet where we raised some money for a local habitat project. But more help is needed and that is the plug. Orvis, the outdoor supply company, has a 5% for Nature program. They commit 5% of each month’s pre-tax revenue to a conservation group and in September that money goes to RGS. Check it out at www.orvis.com/commitment. Please shop Orvis this month.
Speaking of conservation groups, the Mountain Area Chapter of Ducks Unlimited is having their annual fundraising banquet on September 29th at the WNC Ag Center. You can find more information and buy tickets at www.ducks.org/north-carolina/events. We will be there and hope to also see other conservation minded sportsmen and women there.