Hunters in the Pacific Flyway need to look northwest for Canada geese. Oregon has led the way with the highest average harvest the last three seasons at more than 70,000 birds, with Washington and Idaho both close behind at around 65,000 birds. Although there are resident geese around, many of these birds are migrants.
“The Pacific Northwest is highly diverse for goose hunting,” says Chuck Lobdell, DU’s manager of conservation programs for the Lower Columbia River. “That’s part of what makes this area so interesting. There are so many different types of areas to hunt and so many subspecies of geese in the area that a hunter could spend his whole life here and never fully figure out everything there is to know about goose hunting in this area. But the most consistent hunting seems to be the Columbia Basin in Washington. If I had to schedule a week to hunt where I was pretty sure I’d be on geese, it would be a late-season hunt either somewhere off the Snake River in Idaho, or in the Columbia Basin. Birds are going to be in the corn, barley, potato, and alfalfa fields in those areas.”
“Hunters can find decent goose hunting anywhere in southern Idaho, but there’s less competition in the east,” adds Tom Hemker, wildlife program coordinator for Idaho. “The area around American Falls Reservoir is a classic spot with abundant grainfields and roosting areas.
Light and White-fronted Geese
The Mississippi and Central flyways get the nod for high-volume light goose hunting with Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas consistently leading the way in lesser snow and Ross’s goose harvest. White-fronted geese utilize much of the same habitat, so good hunting for them is generally found in the same areas.
Texas has a rich light-goose hunting tradition. Over the past three seasons, Texans have averaged nearly 218,000 light geese per year, by far the biggest take in the country. “The agriculture has changed a lot, and we’re seeing birds pop up in different parts of the state,” says Dave Morrison, waterfowl program coordinator for Texas. “But the hot spots are still generally the same. There’s still a lot of rice on the coast, so if someone is going to come to Texas to hunt snow geese, the coast is the place to go. We’re also seeing more birds in the Panhandle, but hunting up there can be really tough.” Texans have also shot an average of 90,000 white-fronted geese the past three seasons, tied with Louisiana for the highest take in the country.
In addition to white-fronted geese, Louisianans have averaged about 74,000 light geese the past three seasons. Blue-phase lesser snow geese make up a large portion of the Louisiana harvest. Agricultural land along the Mississippi River Delta, as well as the Gulf Coast, provides abundant wintering habitat for these birds.
Arkansas hunters have averaged about 84,000 light geese the past three seasons. More and more specklebellies are also showing up in Arkansas every year, and hunting them is increasing in popularity. Arkansas hunters shot more than 38,000 specks during the 2007 season.