Hunters in many parts of the Atlantic Flyway enjoy great Canada goose hunting, but the best is in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. Pennsylvania hunters shot 276,000 Canada geese during the 2007 season, more birds than any other state in the country. “During the early season, the hunting is good all over Pennsylvania,” says Scott Reinhart, a DU regional biologist. “Resident birds are feeding on silage from the early corn harvest, as well as in the hayfields. Later in the year, you want to look for areas in the Susquehanna River Valley. Lancaster, York, and Dauphin counties are phenomenal. Our volume of agriculture provides a ton of food, and we have a near endless amount of water.”
On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, goose hunting and, indeed, all things waterfowl are part of the daily fabric. Abundant agriculture and immediate access to Chesapeake Bay provide ideal wintering habitat. Over the past three seasons, Maryland hunters have averaged more than 161,000 Canada geese.
New Yorkers have averaged nearly 124,000 geese the past three years. Paul Hess, a DU regional biologist and former New York guide, says the Finger Lakes region is his top pick of hunting areas. “This area is not only a great migration corridor but also a good wintering area,” Hess says. “It has two very deep lakes that rarely freeze, and there’s a tremendous amount of agricultural land around them. There are also good opportunities around the St. Lawrence River, although that tends to be an early-season spot because it freezes up much sooner.”
Goose hunters in the Mississippi Flyway have seen a major shift in the action over the last couple of decades. Southern Illinois and Ballard County, Kentucky, were once among the best goose spots in the nation, but spreads in those areas have been eerily quiet for years.
These days, the northern stretches of the flyway get the nod. With an average harvest of more than 143,000 geese per season, Illinois is still a hot spot—it’s just that hunters need to continue northward for the best action.
In Minnesota, numerous lakes and abundant agriculture, particularly in the western portion of the state, provide ideal staging habitat for the birds. Minnesota goose hunters (and there are nearly twice as many in Minnesota as Illinois) have averaged more than 217,000 geese the past three seasons, more birds than any other state in the flyway.