Early Hunt Targets Resident Canada Geese
By Gary Lewis
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon's goose harvest in 2006 was approximately 78,800 birds. 14,400 goose hunters averaged 5.6 days afield. That's a lot of hunters educating a lot of geese. The ones that don't graduate to the freezer and dinner table go on to get advanced degrees in hunter avoidance.
Get a jump on them this year by hunting the September goose season.
If you want geese and you want them on dry land, in warm weather, plan on hunting in September.
The only goose that nests in Oregon is the western Canada goose. The Canada goose population increased dramatically through the 1980s and 1990s. Annual springtime counts put adult Canada goose numbers at 51,000 birds. Special September seasons target these resident birds before other waterfowl hunts get underway in October.
A big flock of geese can have quite an impact on agricultural operations. The highest incidence of damage occurs on croplands in the Willamette Valley, the Columbia Basin, and in and around Roseburg, Ontario and Bend.
Brad Bales, a waterfowl biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, recommends that hunters prospect for geese in the bigger river systems, like the Snake River, along the Oregon-Idaho border and in southwest Oregon on the Rogue and Umpqua systems. "We've seen substantial increases in southwest Oregon," Bales said.
Look for croplands adjacent to canals, ponds, lakes and rivers. Scout private land feeding areas before the season starts. Geese feel most comfortable in harvested fields because the food is scattered and there are no standing crops to conceal sharp-toothed predators. Note where and when you see the birds, then secure permission well ahead of time.
Most hunters opt to ambush the birds in the field with grainfield ground blinds in a large set of decoys.
The Northwest Oregon September Canada Goose Season takes in all of Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Tillamook, Yamhill, Marion, Polk, Benton, Lincoln, Linn and Lane counties, with the exception of some national wildlife refuges and state parks.
Those portions of Curry, Coos and Douglas counties east of Highway 101 and all of Jackson, Josephine counties and all eastern Oregon counties, except Klamath, are governed under a separate season. Bag limits are more generous in southwest Oregon.
In the September goose season, the taking of white-fronted, Aleutian and cackling Canada geese is prohibited. Bag and possession limits are liberal. Check the 2008-2009 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for exact details.
Goose hunters need a hunting license with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) and the Oregon waterfowl validations. Hunters aged 16 and older are required to have a Federal waterfowl stamp in their possession as well. Steel or non-toxic shot are required when hunting waterfowl.