The Golden Age of Goose Hunting

Canada geese used to be scarce enough that if you saw some, you told people. Now these big fowl are everywhere, and they didn’t get there by being gullible. The same bird that waddles placidly in front of you at the office park flares from the mere glimpse of an uncovered face or hand in a cornfield decoy spread. Goose hunting was once a matter of traveling to a famous migratory stop—the Chesapeake Bay, for instance, or Rochester, Minn.—where you paid to sit in a pit near a refuge line. Today there are geese and mini-refuges everywhere: Golf-course ponds, housing developments, quarries, and downtown rivers all hold resident birds that attract migrants in fall. The skies over suburbia can look like the Saskatchewan prairies at dawn and dusk. Beyond the condos and the minimarts is prime hunting territory. Waiting in the stubble, you often hear geese before you see them. Unlike ducks, they’re vocal in the air, and the clamor of an incoming flock will give you, well, goose bumps. Another distinctive sound of goose hunting is the thump of 10 pounds of protein hitting the ground. It’s audible proof that these are wingshooting’s big game, with plenty of good meat to take home after a successful hunt. Because modern goose hunting is largely a matter of shooting in dry fields, you can get your feet wet in the sport without actually getting your feet wet. Here’s a plan for getting started with a minimum investment.