Jon Schneider, DU manager of conservation programs for Minnesota, said hunters often see a variety of Canada geese over their decoys when the migration is on. “There are resident giant Canada geese as well as a big influx of Eastern Prairie Population Canadas,” he says. “On occasion, you’ll see a few cackling geese as well.”
Michigan hunters have averaged more than 149,000 geese the past three years. Most of these birds are shot in the agricultural lands in the southern portion of the state. “In the early season, hunters are trying to find dairy operations where they’re chopping corn for silage,” says Michigan waterfowl biologist David Luukkonen. “Other good areas to look for geese are recently harvested wheat and small-grain fields, as well as hayfields, provided they’re close to roosting areas. We have a large local goose population in Michigan, but about 70 percent of it is in the southern part of the state.”
With an abundance of habitat, Canada goose hunting is good throughout the Central Flyway. Hunters shoot impressive numbers of birds and enjoy high success rates in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas. But waterfowlers in the Dakotas shoot the most birds. From 2005 to 2007, North Dakota hunters averaged nearly 121,000 Canada geese per season.
Beginning in mid-August, North Dakota hunters participate in a “managed take” of Canada geese outside of the regular waterfowl season. Hunters target over-abundant resident geese with a liberal five-bird limit. Migrant geese begin filling out the bag when regular waterfowl season opens, particularly in the Prairie Pothole Region.
“Hunters are setting up on birds in barley fields and cornfields for the most part,” says Mike Szymanksi, North Dakota waterfowl biologist. “We also have more and more pea fields in the state, and these are usually pretty good for goose hunting. Peas and barley are grown more in the northern portion of the state, where they don’t grow as much corn.”
South Dakota hunters averaged nearly 99,000 Canadas per season the last three years. “The Missouri River area is a big draw for hunters,” says Bruce Toay, a DU regional biologist. “It gets a good push of birds, and the hunting is good there late in the season. The northeast part of the state is also a good pick, as there are a lot of potholes and lakes, as well as grain agriculture up there. Also, most landowners in that area are pretty receptive to goose hunters because of depredation issues from giant Canadas.”