Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

August 30, 1999

Looks to be a good goose season

Almost out of nowhere, a flock of about 20 honkers stormed in from the northwest, over a standing cornfield, and sat down 60 yards out from our decoy spread.

Unlike most honkers, this flock came in quiet and, to my hunting partner, Mike Heigl from Minnetonka, and I, almost unnoticed.

We were busy watching hundreds of geese fly far to our east when this bunch just kind of slipped in. We bagged one latecomer and then watched the rest take off out of shotgun range from the small alfalfa field near Mayer where we were set up.

That was my only effort at last season's September Canada goose hunt. The morning was very hot, a bit buggy, and we bumped into a skunk. But, we got to see hundreds of geese and the hunting was fun.

This year, with the opener set for Saturday, Sept. 4, the September Canada goose hunt and the start to another hunting season is almost here.

Geese are out there in good numbers again, and like the past few years, many hunters will take advantage of the early hunting opportunity.

The season begins at one-half hour before sunrise Sept. 4 and runs through Sept. 22.

In our area, the daily bag limit is five, possession 10, and hunters may not take geese within 100 yards of any surface water.

Also, and in addition to their licenses with harvest information completed, and federal and state waterfowl stamps, hunters age 18 to 65 must have a $3 September Canada goose hunt permit.

More information on the September goose hunt, license requirements, and the harvest information program can be found on pages 77 - 81 in the 1999 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.

Moving on to the honkers, it should be an excellent season.

This spring, I saw more geese in our area than I ever have before. In some areas, geese numbered in the thousands and it reminded me of being out in the Lac qui Parle area during the peak of fall migration.

The geese are definitely out there. However, they are fairly broken up and tend to be in small flocks or family groups of eight to 15 or 20 geese.

To find good hunting, the trick is to scout and find areas that several small flocks of geese are using. You have to remember, these geese are locals, and they will stick to their small flocks and patterns until it's time to head south, or lack of food or hunting pressure pushes them to another area.

For scouting, this is the week to do it. Get out there and look for areas near lakes or sloughs that several small flocks of geese are using. Also, Canadas prefer short cover, and I have done very well on local birds decoying in recently cut alfalfa fields.

When you find a good location or field and get permission to hunt it, leave half your decoys at home, and don't forget the flags.

Again, most of the geese in our area are in small flocks, and in my opinion, they seem to decoy better with small decoy spreads that match the size of the flocks. Two dozen shells with a few rags or windsocks mixed in for movement seem to do the job.

With the decoys set, the next must, aside from good camouflage and good calling, is a goose flag.

Often, these small flocks of geese seem to be flying a mile to the south or the north of your set-up. If that's the case, a few waves of a flag, just enough to get their attention, will often get the geese to come your way and take a hard look at the decoys.

On a final note, don't forget the bug spray and the head netting. Even if the geese aren't flying, the mosquitoes will be.

Outdoor notes

  • Quack, quack, it's back: the Winsted chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold its 16th annual banquet Tuesday, Sept. 14 at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted. Tickets are available at the Blue Note, or call Chip Biske at 320-485-3885 for more information.
  • The application deadline for antlerless deer permits is Thursday, Sept. 9. Permit applications and licenses are available at area license vendors.
  • It's time to buy your 1999 hunting licenses and stamps.
  • Visit the Department of Natural Resources Building at the Minnesota State Fair. The fair ends on Labor Day.

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