Which would you rather shoot this September: 15 birds that weigh a total of five pounds or 15 birds that each weigh 10 pounds apiece? North Carolina’s early season for Canada geese began Sept. 1, a day that many hunters opted to spend in the dove field. 

Between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30 hunters west of US 17 can legally kill up to 15 geese a day with “expanded”hunting measures —extended magazine tubes, shotguns without plugs and electronic game calls. While those measures can be used anywhere, hunters should consider hitting rivers to bag as many birds as possible per outing.

Rivers allow hunters to cover miles of public “land”and avoid having to obtain permission from several landowners. Rivers also hold lots of geese during the day when other hunting opportunities slow or stop.

Geese feed in nearby agricultural fields during the mornings and evenings. When the temperatures heat up the birds search for cool areas to spend the middle of the day.

Search for areas along rivers with exposed rock or sand. Geese lounge here during the hottest parts of the day, cooling their feet in the shallow water before heading back to nearby crop fields to eat.

Bring a shallow-bottomed boat loaded with floating and field decoys to set up on the sand and rocks. Use the standing field decoys on the dry land and scatter the floaters where the water begins to deepen.

Standing on the bank without the landowner’s permission is illegal. Set up with your boat along the edge of the water to keep it legitimate. Build a “blind”by pulling down branches overhanging the water and shield yourself from view.

Place an electronic call in a dry area among the decoys and use a remote to control it from a distance. The electronic sounds will keep the approaching geese focused on the decoy spread and away from the hunter. The extra shell capacity lets a hunter blast away at a gander without stopping to reload.

Hunters who want to make the most of the early waterfowl season need only go to the nearest river to chase resident geese. For those who don’t want to pick and choose, hunt doves early and late and mix it up with geese in between.