Thursday, January 8, 2009

Goose Ground Zero

Copyright Myself, 2009. Here's where the geese are going in the winter. I'll save the analysis of this map for a post-hunting season discussion!
I received an invitation to a field goose hunt at a farm in Chestertown, Maryland; generally recognized as "goose ground zero" for the last 50 years. Especially in years when the AP (Atlantic Population) geese are dominated by 2- and 3-year old birds, hundreds of thousands of Canada Geese, and well over a million snow geese, descend upon the same rivers on the eastern shore of Maryland. These rivers - namely the Chester, Sassafras, Wye, and lower Choptank, are surrounded by large acreages of open farms (not small fields) where "corn is king." Recently, government efforts to decrease agricultural runoff into the rivers has taken shape as a "cover crop program," where farmers are paid to plant a crop of rye or wheat after the corn is harvested (rye and wheat were not historically important crops in this area). So in the last 3 years, the geese have had an additional source of food in mild weather - the green cover crops. And let me just say that it is very difficult to hunt geese who are feeding in a 100 acre field of 2" tall green grass. But I digress.

Bag limit by 9AM - not shabby!

In Maryland, we let the geese really "commit" before taking the shot. Guess how far one lucky goose was off the ground?

It's all about having the right food, on the right day, in the right wind. Debating over who's wearing MAX-4HD and who's wearing Mossy Oak Duck Blind is pretty silly. Just stay still and don't call if you're not confident with your calling skills.

The setup - 8 dozen silhouettes and 3 dozen fullbodies
We were set up well before sunrise and due to an incoming cold front (set for about noon), the birds were antsy, but not moving off of the nearby salt creek. Around 8:30am, they started moving in pairs and triples, and headed right for our setup. We got our first larger flock (8) around 9:00am, and shot horribly, only killing two birds. After punishing a few more singles and doubles, we got the first big push - about 30 geese swirling over the blind and the decoy spread. We allowed most of the flock to leave, and let a few land in the spread, before finishing out our bag limit with the few stragglers trying to land, about 25 yards out and 3 feet up in the air.

It was a great morning, and went easier than any hunt really should. I can't wait to go back!


Rabid Outdoorsman said...

That is a thing of beauty . . . just missed hearing the distant report of a shotgun in the background. :)

tugboatdude said...

You lucky bastidge!HAHA congratulations on a good low stress hunt.

Kirk Mantay said...

hey can you guys see the video? the coding is not working right (at least on my PC)?


tugboatdude said...

Can't see it.Just looks like a black hole.

Downeast Duck Hunter said...

I just checked out the video, looks good...

How long does the goose season run in your neck of the woods?

We've been struck with Old Man Winter big time and it looks as if our sea duck season is coming to a close by choice. As of right now it's 17 degrees and the snow is dropping fast. I'll never get the duck boat out of this!!!

Kirk Mantay said...

More or less, the regular (AP) season runs until the end of duck season, which is 1/24/09 this year. West of I-95 (basically), the resident season runs till somewhere around 2/15/09. MD did not enact a snow goose Conservation Order but Delaware did, and snow goose season goes until 3/15/09 or so.

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