Liberal limits and regulations make this a fun time
Early Canada goose season might be the most overlooked season of all in the Carolinas, and those who ignore it are missing out on a ton of fun.
In North Carolina, where the 2019 dove season begins on Sept. 2, the September goose season also starts that day. The daily bag limit is 15 from Sept. 2 — Sept. 30. And in the area west of U.S. Hwy. 17, hunters have some extremely liberal regulations during the September season. These include unplugged guns, the use of electronic calls, and extended shooting hours that last until 1/2-hour after sunset.
South Carolina’s dove season starts on Sept. 2, but the early Canada goose season begins on Sept. 1. The bag limit is 15 geese through Sept. 30.
So why does early goose season seem to be the best kept hunting secret throughout the Carolinas? It’s a combination of factors, according to Lancaster’s Blake Hodge of Wrecking Crew Guide Service.
“It’s still really hot, football season has started, deer season has started in some areas. And dove season is in, or about to be in, and that has a stronger following. When most folks think of hunting geese, they think of cold weather. So it just slips on by a lot of people without them giving it much thought,” he said.
Have a blast, stock the freezer
But Hodge said early goose season is about the most fun you can have with a shotgun.
“You can kill 15 geese per day in the early season as opposed to just five in the regular season. That’s a lot of fun shooting! And you can get plenty of meat for the freezer. And in most of North Carolina, you don’t have to plug your shotgun. That’s only legal in the early season,” he said.
Hodge said regulations aren’t the only difference between hunting geese in the early season and during the later seasons.
“Scouting is much more important in the early season. You can identify groups of geese and then make a note of where each group spends most of their time. They are much more territorial than the geese we’ll hunt later in the year. And decoys can literally push them away from landing where they normally do,” he said.
During the early season, Hodge said, geese already have their minds made up on where they are going each day.
“These early geese are mostly resident geese. They live here year-round and have their favorite places to go each day. As farmers harvest agricultural fields, this can change. But hunters can pattern them simply by observing them over the course of a few days. They have their minds made up on when and where they are going to land. And you can’t do a whole lot to change that,” he said. “So you might as well take advantage of it.”
Hodge and the Wrecking Crew (803-320-3477) have access to numerous properties across both Carolinas. A hunting trip with them is one you won’t forget, and will make you long for Labor Day weekend for years to come.