Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Early goose season to kick off Sept. 6

St. Paul – Aside from a few localized areas of low water, and
other locations where cool spring air and rain may have influenced
brood sizes, there’s little reason to expect anything less than a
stellar early September Canada goose season in Minnesota, which in
recent years has accounted for nearly one-third of the total
harvest in the state.

The hunt is designed to target resident “giant” Canada
geese.

Dave Rave, DNR goose specialist in Bemidji, believes brood
numbers this spring were actually much better than last year, when
cold weather after eggs were laid may have taken its toll.

Low temperatures in 2007, he said, likely froze some nests, and
often that fact’s not realized by geese, so they don’t re-nest. And
while snow came late in the spring in some locations this year,
geese either “will sit through it,” or believe the snow has
destroyed the nest, and will re-nest.

Lots of young geese will make the early part of the early season
productive, Rave said. Migrants should provide good hunting for the
latter portion.

“It should start out good, and continue to be good throughout
the entire season,” he said.

The early season begins relatively late this year – Sept. 6 –
across the state. Once again, the daily bag limit is two in the
Southeast Zone (four in possession), and five daily in the rest of
the state (possession limit of 10). Hunting hours are one-half hour
before sunrise until sunset. The season ends Sept. 22.

There remains in effect water restrictions (hunters may not hunt
within 100 yards of water) in the Northwest and Southeast zones,
the Metro Goose Zone, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, and
the Swan Lake area.

In western Minnesota, all things are pointing to a favorable
season for early Canada goose hunters.

“We’re seeing quite a few geese around,” said Don Schultz, DNR
area wildlife manager in Fergus Falls. “During the early season
(the success of the hunt) depends on the weather – if it’s hot,
geese don’t move around much.”

But, he said, plenty of geese are in the area, and small grain
fields mean the birds will be moving back and forth between forage
locations and roosting locations.

“I’m always amazed at how many geese people quietly take during
the early season,” he said. “(The early season hunt) is important
to use from a harvest standpoint.”

Schultz said while hunters take an impressive number of Canada
geese, the population remains high, but not necessarily growing.
“The population has stabilized in recent years,” he said.

In southern Minnesota, goose depredation complaints are down
this year, according to Pete Schaefer, of the DNR’s Nicollet
office.

Schaefer said a produce farmer in the area earlier this month
called to report geese damaging his watermelon – something unusual,
as geese aren’t known for melon consumption. Investigation
revealed, Schaefer said, that crows actually were the culprits.

Small grain and most sweet corn fields have been harvested and
are being frequented by foraging geese, Schaefer said. “And I’ve
been noticing, in the past couple of weeks, broods of ducks
appearing on deeper wetlands,” he said.

Rave said the state’s Canada goose population is around 290,000.
Thousands more migrate through the state each fall. Last year,
state hunters took about 94,000 geese during the early September
season – nearly half of the estimated harvest of 203,000 Canada
geese.

About 37,000 special goose-hunting permits were sold prior to
Sept. 23 last year; Rave estimates about 25,000 hunters take part
in the early goose hunt.

Prior to last year, early goose hunting was more restrictive in
the northwestern portion of the state. But beginning in 2007,
“extra” days were added to that season, making it equal in length
to the rest of the state. It’s part of an experiment, Rave said, to
determine the extent to which hunters harvest Eastern Prairie
Population geese during the early season. Those are migrating geese
whose numbers have been in the past considered low.

But breeding counts of EPP geese have been impressive in areas
of Canada the past couple years, Rave said. Still, DNR officials
will closely monitor the take of Canada geese in the Northwest
Zone, this year and the next two.

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