The broad plain portion of Franklin County is tucked between Tuscarora and South mountains. This broad expanse of land is interspersed with orchards, farm fields, streams, ponds and small lakes that many species of waterfowl call home for the winter.
That is the good news.
The bad news is that just about all of that land is under private ownership, which means knocking on doors to gain permission to hunt these locales.
With the geese making a nuisance of themselves in many portions of the county, that may not be as big an obstacle as you think. While some local hunters do take after the birds, there are usually plenty around as many of the waters in this region never freeze over during the winter season.
Franklin County is situated in a prime spot for waterfowl. The very northeastern portion of the county feeds in the Susquehanna River basin, while the rest of it feeds that of the Potomac River basin.
Both flow into the rich waterfowl destination of the Chesapeake Bay, and the birds trade back and forth between destinations using the streams as highways.
Looking at a map of the county can point you in the general direction of where to start looking.
In the western portion of the county, look to the Route 75 corridor from the town of Dry Run and south. This route will take you through a mix of farm country where you can locate feeding birds in the fields.
There is a small lake near the town of Fannettsburg that attracts roosting flocks of waterfowl. In addition, many small streams and farm ponds add to the attractiveness of the area, and both ducks and geese call it their wintertime home.
Further to the east you will find a vast flat area associated with the Route 11/Interstate 81 corridor. Here, too, you can drive along and find places to hunt. There are many tucked away waters that will hide birds from the road, so you need to keep an eye out for flights taking off and heading to areas you can access.
You might find it surprising, but you can find good populations of waterfowl in and around the major towns of this area including Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Greencastle and Waynesboro.
All are in expansion and the growth of humans in the area can also equate to good habitat for ducks and geese.
These areas are off limits to hunting, but the nearby landscape may be the place to look.
Not only can you find places that will allow you to set up a decoy spread, but you may also find flight routes that bring the birds within gun range and not have to drag out all that gear. This is exactly how I bagged my first duck, a mallard hen, many years ago.
Sitting in a fencerow looking into the outskirts of Chambersburg, the duck flew across a high spot in the field where my father and I had taken a stand based upon a relative’s suggestion and the farmer’s blessing.
That spot is still a good one from time to time, but recent housing developments have put it into jeopardy.
There may be a few opportunities where you can get engage in special hunts to aid people with waterfowl problems in the area too. From time to time, businesses will ask hunters to help thin out the populations in areas where hunting is legal.
Golf courses are prime locations for this, but there are others. This is mostly a word-of-mouth advertisement process, but the local sporting goods stores of that area always seem to know when the hunts are available.
Stop by a shop or two and ask for information.
Franklin County may not be a top place that is talked about when it comes to duck and goose hunting in the state, but this sleeper county has more than its fair share of opportunities for those willing to do the work to get in some great hunts.
Start scouting and start knocking to make sure you have a place in line.
LOCATION: Southern part of county.
SPECIES: A wide variety of waterfowl call this area home, including Canada geese, mallards, scaup, black ducks, wood ducks, red-heads, eiders, canvasbacks, mottled ducks, whistling ducks, scooters and longtail ducks.
HOW TO GET THERE: The Turnpike bisects the area, with many exits that provide access to waterfowl hunting.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
– There is a small lake near the town of Fannettsburg that attracts roosting flocks of waterfowl.
– You can find good populations of waterfowl around the major towns of this area including Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Greencastle and Waynesboro.
– Businesses like golf courses occasionally ask hunters to help thin the populations in areas where hunting is legal.
– There are many tucked away waters that will hide birds from the road, so you need to keep an eye out for flights taking off and heading to areas you can access.