The 2022-23 hunting license went on sale for New York state sportsmen last week. While I’m not yet a big fan of the on-demand system, I’m sure for some it works. The old athlete and super athlete licensing system, which included everything I needed, was easier for me. Now I have purchased a separate fishing license and if I don’t do it when I get my hunting license, well, one tends to forget about these things. On the bright side, fishing licenses are now valid for a full year from the date of purchase. You just have to remember to get it.
Deer management permit numbers will drop a bit next season for 9J. While there is a good chance you will receive your first permit/tag, the second drawing will be fair. Remember to report your deaths through the NYS Harvest hotline, 866-426-3778.
Reporting your death isn’t just a requirement, it helps the DEC keep track of the numbers in the game. Through this system and others, permits are issued as DMPs each season.
The 2022-23 hunting season begins on September 1 with the first goose and squirrel seasons. This year should be another exciting year for local waterfowl hunters. The growing season has not been the best for local farmers. From what we can see and hear from farmers, the corn may be around long after the early goose season is over.
With the start of the 25-day season and a big cap of 15 birds per day, now is the time to start wing hunting early in the season. This season, like none in recent memory, will be one that includes a lot of exploration. The traditional way of looking at a field of freshly cut corn, oats, wheat, or alpha will require a lot more work.
Understanding why geese hit one field and not another, then knowing where they are going and when they are going to be where and how to get them to put their landing gear on their range is a lifelong passion.
When looking for fields to hunt, I prefer areas near water where the birds spend their nights or rest. These fields don’t need to be right on top of the rest areas, but I like to get as close to them as possible.
We hunt in several areas that are located so close that we can hear the birds as they come out of their roost in the morning. These are great for the first few days, but they dry out quickly.
Being so close has its pros and cons. Installation in the pre-dawn hours should be done quietly and early. As the season progresses, the geese will become familiar with the sounds of truck doors closing and the banging of decoys. This is often all that is needed for these birds to fly over their range. If you set up near the rest/water area when the first group takes off and shoot at them, the next group that takes off quickly realizes they don’t want to get to your spread.
The first couple of days these setups may work, but as the season continues and the birds educate themselves, they will stay away from spreading too close to their roosting areas.
Remember, most of the time geese are smarter than we think.
In the past, early season lure casts were incredibly simple, but today there are more ways to set your lures than goose calls.
The first rule of thumb to remember is that geese will almost always land into the wind, so set them up accordingly. I prefer to set up small family groups with our blinds in the middle of the sets. A good rule of thumb is to have lures for several small family groups (four to five lures) and set them up in a U or V format for hunts early in the season.
Place your hunters outside the closed area of the U or V and let the open areas of the U and V act as landing zones.
Geese like to land in the middle of family groups and then feed in their own family groups outside the landing zone. Having the proper knowledge of how to set up your lures will do more for your success than anything else.
Every year, I spend hours before the season watching the geese land in the fields and on the water and how they communicate with each other. There’s nothing like first-hand experience before the season begins. I have learned more from just sitting and watching birds in their natural undisturbed state than from any hunting video.
Once you have your spread set up, it is time to place your hunters. Over the years of leading hunters, there are many things I have learned. One thing is for sure. If you tell a hunter not to look up when the birds are on their way to scatter, the hunters will look up. No matter how many years they have hunted or how many birds they have killed, they will undoubtedly look up. With that in mind, I’ve found that the best way to keep birds from getting fired up is to keep my hunters well hidden. That’s a tall order when you’re lying in the middle of a freshly cut field with no cover around.
One of the best and in my opinion the only way to keep hunters hidden is the use of portable blinds. Placing your hunters in hiding places on the ground is one of the best ways to hide their movement and not scare away the birds.
There are many ways to hide the hunters. In the early years of field hunting, we would lie down in the field with stalks of corn or grass over us. This system had several flaws and was not fully tested. The hunters will still shake their heads as the geese fluff their wings, only to have them turn on at the last minute.
One of the best blinds on the market for multiple hunters is a hay bale style blind. This style of blind is basically a pop-up blind made to look like a bale of hay in the middle of a field. With hay bale camouflage and a little brushing on the hunter’s part, these blinds are great any time of year.
Designer style shutters are widely used and very effective in goose fields. Once the blind is brushed, the hunter can sit down, actually lie down, and wait for the geese. If you haven’t seen them in action, check out some of our goose hunts at backroadoutdoorstv.com. The ease of installation and mobility of designer shutters is a must for any goose hunter.
We prefer to use blinds manufactured by Avery Outdoors. Avery has been making portable floor blinds for years and as hunters they understand the importance of convenience and portability.
The Avery Finisher Floor Shade is the Cadillac of floor shades. With a padded back and head rest area, it would take a lot of water to get you wet. The Finisher is not the number one blind seller for nothing. From the gun mount to the zippered flag ports and plenty of room for hunters of any size, it’s easy to see what makes the Finisher the best-selling ground blind in the world.
Calling geese is as much a part of the hunt as anything else, but I’ve seen birds with cupped wings fly away when a caller makes too loud a call. Like anything that has to do with calling wild creatures, we all need to know when it’s time to speak up or shut up.
When I choose a goose call, I look for a short-shank call that is easy to work with. This is not to say that I would use a good flute, but I prefer a simple, short reed for new singers.
When you call, keep in mind that you must use your call appropriately. One of the old wives’ tales about calling the geese is that you need to be a calling master to be successful. Could not be farther from the truth. I have seen first time callers turn birds and get close enough to shoot them. Now, I’m not saying that anyone walking into a store to buy a call can call birds, but it’s not rocket science. Calling waterfowl is an art form. The more time you spend practicing, the better you will be, which will make you a better hunter.
To start learning how to use a goose call you need to understand the basics of the call.
One of the biggest mistakes I see first-time callers make is puffing out their cheeks. The air should come from your diaphragm, not your mouth. Whether it’s feed or return calls, where your air comes from will allow you to control your calls and make your calls more realistic.
The main rule of thumb I tell new callers is to mimic the same call the geese are making. Once you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a chicken caller.
When calling, don’t overdo it. She calls when the birds talk to you. Don’t overdo the call, but make it loud enough so the birds can hear you. Talking to the geese is exciting and is thought by some to be the most important part of the hunt.
As the dust begins to settle in the summer of 2022, the minds of local hunters begin to wander as we mow to that first flight of geese or the sound of twigs snapping in the fall woods. Now it’s time to begin the process of getting all the ducks in a row, so to speak, for the next season.
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