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Expanding Boundaries: My First Canada Goose Hunt

To provide you with full disclosure at the front of this article, allow me to explain that waterfowl is a new obsession to me. I've always been more of a deep woods, big game aficionado. My father didn't hunt waterfowl very often growing up, so neither did I nor my brother. That's not to say I have never gone, but it wasn't something that I obsessed about. Plus to be honest, the seasons often conflict with those of big game in New Brunswick. When others were off chasing waterfowl, I had deer on the brain. I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. That was until something changed this past fall, when I was invited to my first goose hunt!

My friend Dave generally chases waterfowl more than the big game, so he was a perfect person to take me on my first hunt. At a risk of dating myself, I should explain that goose hunting wasn't something I grew up with. In 1997, New Brunswick brought 2,000 Canada geese from Ontario to our province, and they have since flourished. We have not only a migratory population, but my friend Dave explained there are also now many that choose to stay year round in the province. This burgeoning population might be something the cities and farmers hate, but sportsmen love it and the area has become a great destination for goose hunting. They've even relaxed some of the rules and quotas for early goose season over the past couple of years.

So we set out for early goose season just outside the community of Shediac, New Brunswick before daylight. Dave had scouted the area and secured permission from the landowner the week before and had the experience and had all the gear we would need. He had several dozen shell decoys, a layout blind for each of us, and is proficient with a goose call. For my first trip, he gave me some pointers at setting up the spread of decoys, while he set up the layout blinds.

For those who do not know, a layout blind is a shallow blind that you lie in while concealed, propped up slightly. Doors cover you up and there is screen over top of you to be able to see slightly. Typically the blind is camouflaged and there are additional straps on the blind that can be used to shove in grasses and hay to make you look more like the surroundings.

Canada geese have a tremendous sense of sight even when flying in from a distance so it's important to blend in. Dave even told me something I've heard echoed since from others, to avert my eyes because they can see the whites. It's hard to say if that's a myth caused by failed hunts, or whether it's true, but I decided to listen to him since he was the expert.

It wasn't long after first light when we started hearing the faint honks of our first flock of Canada geese coming in. Dave explained later to me that they spend the nights on the water to keep them safe from predators, and then fly into the farmer's fields for morning feeding. Typically they spend the morning in one place, before heading back to the water for a few hours at mid-day. Then they will return to the fields for an afternoon snack before retreating to the water for to stay overnight. There were at least a half-dozen flocks that came to land into fields around us before the first one came near to us. Unfortunately something spooked them about our setup and they circled and headed on to another field. We were a bit disappointed but kept the faith and were rewarded within a couple of minutes. A flock of around 15 Canada geese decided our field was safe and began landing. When the first couple of birds were just touching down, my friend Dave gave me the call to “get them” and up we busted out of the layout blinds, firing away. My Winchester SXP was true and I had my first goose. At about 20 yards, my first shot wobbled a goose and I took him with a second shot to be sure. The flock scattered so I wasn't able to get a second one in that group, but I was ecstatic over what a rush the experience was! The sound of a flock of geese flying over and flapping at a tremendous rate to land nearby is unforgettable! These are not small birds, sometimes weighing in excess of 15 pounds so it was an incredible rush!

I retrieved the goose and we set up again. Five minutes later we had more takers, as two birds came in alone to us. There was another nearby flock that we thought might come so we waited until they committed elsewhere before popping up on these two who were already on the ground. Again I was fortunate and I had my second goose with a clean shot at the closest one to me. The rest of the morning was uneventful and we found out later that a couple of nearby corn fields had been cut that week, explaining our lack of action but I was satisfied. My first Canada goose hunt was successful in experience and in harvest!

Dave let me try the goose call a bit but I couldn't make a sound anywhere even remotely close to a goose, so it's obvious I will need to do some practicing but the day was a great one. I am looking forward to my next invitation and have already begun planning to get some gear for myself and to hopefully share a hunt with my son in the near future. Thanks to my terrific friend and “guide” David Alcorn for bringing me these wonderful memories and my newest obsession!

2014-12-08 23:31:48


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