Hunters sweat out early goose opener

Watson, Minn. — For Canada goose hunters like Dave Trauba, the early September goose season opener wasn’t much out of the ordinary, aside from the fact that temperatures across Minnesota had, by Labor Day Monday, risen into the upper 80s to low 90s, which, in some cases, likely discouraged participation.

For his part, Trauba, the DNR area wildlife manager at Lac qui Parle in western Minnesota, harvested some geese one morning last weekend. But he forwent the afternoon mourning dove hunt. It was just too hot.

As for geese, “There were very few flying by Big Stone (National Wildlife Refuge) on Monday. I attribute that to the heat,” he said.

But, Trauba said, there are geese around, and cooler weather in the forecast bodes well for hunters.

“The birds aren’t going anywhere,” he said, adding that a colder spurt could possibly bring molt migrant geese – those likely more vulnerable to decoy spreads – into the area.

The early season opener Sept. 1 was, by most accounts, a typical opener in the LqP area, Trauba said.

“Every year it’s the same thing: You have to do your scouting,” then get permission to hunt, he said. “Those who scouted and got permission did well.”

Kent Schaap, the DNR’s assistant wildlife manager in Slayton, said officials in that area saw a few goose hunters during the weekend, but, he added, “It was kind of quiet out my way (near Chandler).”

But, gradually, the early season goose harvest adds up in Minnesota, where last year about 100,000 geese were shot, according to the DNR. Through all the fall seasons, Canada goose harvest last year was nearly 240,000.

Goose-hunting guides like Graham Greseth say the first days of the early September season are important but subsequent weekends can be just as good, or better.

“The second and third weekends you can get on birds pretty good, and there’s less (hunter) competition,” said Greseth, of Maxxed Out Guides.

As for this opener, “Hot and a full moon was the name of the game,” he said. He and fellow guides noted large groups of geese – 25 to 60 in number. The smaller family groups – eight to 12 birds – typically decoy better than the larger flocks.

Greseth said he and the hunters he guided hunted in west-central Minnesota.

The daily Canada goose bag limit for the early September season, which runs through Sept. 21, is five. The goose season begins again Sept. 22 in all three waterfowl hunting zones in the state. It runs until Dec. 16 in the northern zone. In the central zone, it runs Sept. 22-30, closes until Oct. 6 and continues through Dec. 21. In the southern zone, it runs through Sept. 30, closes until Oct. 13, then runs through Dec. 28. The daily Canada goose bag limit during the regular season is three.

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