Wisconsin goose season dawns with an abundance of birds
OZAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. -- We hunkered in our layout blinds, eyes and ears searching the sky for the first flight. A new season had dawned. At least that's what our watches told us. The only orange at sunrise was on the Doppler radar -- strong rain ...
OZAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. -- We hunkered in our layout blinds, eyes and ears searching the sky for the first flight.
A new season had dawned. At least that's what our watches told us.
The only orange at sunrise was on the Doppler radar -- strong rain events were spread around southeastern Wisconsin for the Sept. 1 hunt.
"Wouldn't you know it?" said Jerry Solsrud of Delafield, Wis., my hunting partner for the morning. "Hasn't rained for a week and we get served up with mud."
Solsrud, his yellow Labrador retriever, Trix, and I met at oh-dark-thirty to spread goose decoys and set blinds on this farm in Ozaukee County.
Sept. 1 marked the start of the 2010 hunting seasons in Wisconsin. As has become tradition, the hunts open with the early September Canada goose and mourning dove seasons.
Two distinct populations of Canada geese wing through Wisconsin skies. One breeds in the state and is termed "resident." These birds spend most or all of the year in Wisconsin, depending on weather and other local conditions.
The other group of birds is called the Mississippi Valley Population, breeds in Canada and typically migrates through Wisconsin from October to December.
The number of resident Canada geese in Wisconsin has dramatically increased over the past 25 years, according to the Department of Natural Resources, and resulted in a nuisance-size population in many areas, including the metro Milwaukee area.
For 2010, the DNR estimated the statewide breeding Canada goose population at 165,853 birds, up 12 percent from 2009 and 99 percent above the long-term (24-year) mean.
In terms of a hunting forecast, the DNR put it this way: "We expect an abundant Canada goose population this fall, particularly for the early September Canada goose season."
Most counties in the state offer good to excellent goose hunting during the early season. The key, as it is with so many types of hunting, is scouting and access to hunting spots.
As the clock ticked toward 6:15 a.m., the first geese winged in from the southeast, but flared north.
Five minutes later another flock arrived, this time decoying to our position. Eight geese dropped in, landing gear down.
Solsrud and I popped up the lids on our blinds and took the first shots of the 2010 season. Seconds later Trix was making her first retrieves of the fall, too.
The next hour had flights working the airspace over the farm. Some decoyed, others flared. Still others stayed high and never gave us a sniff; obviously they had other plans.
By 8 a.m., the flights had diminished; Solsrud had his limit of five geese, I had three.
We decided to call it a morning. The opener had brought plenty of flocks. The drizzle had kept the mosquitoes at bay. And the season had two weeks left.