Throughout much of the Carolnas, deer hunting and dove hunting seasons are now open. The saltwater fishing is also going strong, and as bass begin their fall transition, catfishing is going strong on most of the lakes and rivers. And in all this, another season that is also open, but often overlooked, is the early Canada goose season.
It is quite possibly the best kept secret in the outdoors world.
The early goose season runs through the last weekend of September, and it usually comes in and goes out with little fanfare, thanks to a number of factors.
â€śItâ€™s still really hot, football season has started, many folks are hunting deer and doves, and most people just arenâ€™t in the habit of hunting geese so early in the year,â€ť said Lancaster, SCâ€™s Blake Hodge of Wrecking Crew Guide Service (803-320-3477).
But Hodge said a lot of positives are in place for those who do pursue the big birds this time of year.
â€śProbably the main difference between now and the regular waterfowl season is that you can keep 15 geese now as opposed to only five. So you can really have a lot of fun shooting and get plenty of meat for the freezer in the early season. And in most of North Carolina, you donâ€™t have to plug your shotgun during the early season,â€ť said Hodge.
And regulations arenâ€™t the only thing different when it comes to hunting the early season as opposed to the regular waterfowl season.
â€śHunting geese in the early season is a lot different, and one reason for that is the early season geese are mostly resident geese that have been here all year long, and have their own favorite places to go each day. That may change when a field is harvested, but it is possible to pattern them by watching them over the course of a few days. But itâ€™s almost impossible to lure them in with decoys or with calling this time of year. They have their minds made up on when and where they are going to land, and thereâ€™s really not a whole lot you can do to change that.
â€śScouting is much more important in the early season. You can identify different groups of geese and then make a note of where each group spends most of their time. They are much more territorial than the geese weâ€™ll hunt later in the year, and decoys can literally push them away from landing where they normally land instead of attracting them,â€ť said Hodge.
Another popular way to hunt geese in the early season is by taking a shotgun along while fishing farm ponds from johnboats or canoes. Thatâ€™s how John Catarino of Lumberton, NC spends many evenings this month.