For a September wingshooting show that sports a huge payoff — as in a limit of 10-pound plus resident Canada goose honkers — there aren’t many takers for the special resident goose seasons currently underway in Texas and Oklahoma.
And that’s a shame because the early September resident goose hunts on both sides of the Red River offer one of the fall season’s most enjoyable wingshooting shows.
A show that is tailor made for the big early bird Canada geese that lift off each morning into the vast Texas and Oklahoma skies, even after the dawn of another warm and dusty day in September.
How can a would-be Red River Valley early goose hunter successfully chase these resident Canada geese in September? For the answer to that question, let me defer to Josh Richardson, migratory bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
For starters, he advises that you have to scout them out quite well, finding a spot out in the countryside where they are feeding, watering, loafing and/or flying around on a regular basis.
Sometimes that will be in a recently harvested grain field, other times it will be on early wheat or even sod, and many times, it will be on a large stock pond or small watershed lake of less than 50 acres.
Once you find that proverbial “X” where a few resident geese are heading to — and gain permission to hunt it — Richardson says that time is of the essence.
“Don’t think that you can find a flock of these geese, hunt them a day or two later, then come back and do it again and again,” he said. “Usually, you’ll get one or two shots at such birds before they relocate to a safer place.”
In other words, scout hard, find the birds today, and be in that exact spot tomorrow morning with several hunting buddies.
A second tip from Richardson is to realize that you might need a different sounding goose call than the one that consistently hangs on your lanyard later on in the fall.
Why is that? Because for the most part, the Canada geese that migrate into Texas and Oklahoma later on in the fall are the smaller subspecies — there are 11 in all — geese that many hunters call cacklers.
Put simply, cacklers are a little bigger than a big mallard while these September resident Canada geese that we’re talking about here often weigh 10, 12, and even up to 15 pounds or more.
That means that the goose music made by these bigger resident birds is deeper than the higher pitched honks, moans, and clucks made by the smaller geese that start arriving late next month and on through the winter.
“To hunt most of these September birds, you’ll want a deeper call, things like the old flute style calls or a deeper voiced short reed,” said Richardson. “Remember, there aren’t any of the fall migrants around yet, so if you’re calling at these bigger, deeper sounding resident birds with a higher pitched call, they might realize that the sounds you’re making aren’t normal for this time of the year.”
Does having a deeper, goosier sounding call for September birds really make a difference? Well, keep in mind that some of these birds are 10 years old and older, wise guys in the waterfowl world who have seen it all and heard it all.
What about goose decoys, either shells, full bodies or silhouettes — does having a bigger sized decoy matter during the September resident goose hunt?
Richardson said that most of the resident birds in this part of the world aren’t pure strain Branta canadensis maxima — the big giant Canada geese found in states to our north — so their body sizes do vary a little bit more so than their voices do.
“For this time of year, patterning is the most important thing,” said the ODWC biologist. “It’s probably more important to do some serious scouting before hand, to find out where they want to be, and then the next day, to be exactly where they want to be.”
A final tip from Richardson is to make sure that you’ve got adequate shotgunning tools to bring these big resident honkers down, including a 12 or 20-gauged scattergun. While many people think that you need BBs and BBBs to chase big geese with, the ODWC biologist says that he opts for #2, #3, and even #4 non-toxic shot sizes.
“Unless you take one of these geese incidentally on an early teal hunt, for the most part, this September resident goose hunting is about being in the right spot,” said Richardson. “If you’ve done your scouting and are on the so-called X, then it’s in your face kind of shooting.”
And that’s worth the effort made necessary by these big resident Canada geese, Sooner State and Lone Star State homebodies that are good eating, a challenge to hunt, and a whole lot of wingshooting fun when they lock up over the decoy spread.
Even in the middle of a dry and dusty September.