Geese are still here

As the extended conservation snow goose season continues, there are only scattered reports from the fields. There seems to be some big numbers of the snows, blues, and Ross geese that are staying south of the Intracoastal Canal. There are times, depending on the weather, when some of those birds will move back north of the canal; whenever this happens, then the folks that enjoy the late season will enjoy some really great shoots. Many of the waterfowl outfitters have told me that under the circumstances, they are scheduling hunts for standby. Whenever the geese decide to begin moving around more and when they are more available to the hunters, they will notify the standbys. With the conservation season in full swing, there should be some really good hunts coming up.

So what is keeping those seemingly ever-hungry geese in both the federal wildlife refuge areas and in the marshes south of the Intracoastal Canal? Answers to that would only be speculation on my part. However, with my hunting experience, there are a couple of primary factors that seem to always be involved when the birds move to wherever they choose to locate.

Whenever the snow geese, blue geese and Ross geese begin to prepare to head back to their spring and summer nesting grounds, they head for the green food sources. Some of their favorite places are the ridges that are in the reserves. Annually, the high ground will be burned off so that the old vegetation is removed and the young green shoots will grow. The birds find these spots earlier in the year and they do tend to feed on them. They move back into the grain fields at night to feed and return to those marsh ridges during the daylight hours. Drastic changes in local weather or severe cold fronts that begin up north will drive more and more geese into the local area. Whenever they would leave the nighttime resting areas and head into the flooded rice fields, local goose hunters would have the opportunity to enjoy some good goose hunts.

By now, some of that situation has changed. The ridges that were resting areas for the geese do become highly fed over. There is less for them to feed upon; therefore, they head to the local marshes where they feed on what we call three-cornered grass.

Three-cornered grass likely has a scientific name, but that escapes me. For this article, we’ll call it what the local hunters know it as — three-cornered grass.Evidentially this marsh grass contains some substance that the geese like to eat before they head back north. In any event, the largest stands of that goose attractors are in the marshes that are south of the Intercostals Canal. There are also some patches of it north of the canal and in the federal refuge areas. The folks who would enjoy utilizing the conservative season can see those geese, but they are in places where hunting is not allowed.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service continues to promote taking more of these overpopulated geese, but hunting is closed where the geese are most populated during the late season.

On the subject of three-cornered grass in the marsh, there are plenty of positives to the geese feeding on it. A large bunch of geese can, in over a week or more, completely rid that feeding area or any vegetation. There will be water still present. During the remainder of the year after the geese head north, those water areas become prime places for ducks to rest when they return next fall. There will be duck attracting vegetation in those goose created ponds. Besides that, the grasses that remain around those ponds act as wind breaks so that the ducks can find smooth water. So even though the geese will destroy many acres of habitat, some good comes out of it.

Another thing that can move the geese is weather. Why do those birds choose to change locations when there is a weather change? What would make a perfectly normal goose leave the feeding and resting area just because it’s foggy or the wind blows hard? Only the geese know for sure.

Those weather conditions and changes are usually what it takes to move the geese into the hunting areas. Should you be interested in a late season conservation hunt, then contact one of the local outfitters and be ready to stand by.