Dear Writing Huntress,
I’m trying my hand at waterfowl hunting this year and need some help. The only other kind of hunting I’ve done was deer hunting with my 20-gauge pump shotgun. Do you have any basic guidelines for a newbie goose hunter? Is my 20-gauge enough to kill a goose? How do you cook goose meat?
Overwhelmed in Ohio
First off, take a big, deep breath. Then take another. Are we cool, calm and collected yet? Good!
Secondly, allow me to commend you on your choice to begin waterfowling! I, much like you, started out my waterfowl hunting tenure with Canada geese, because they are easy to identify and they weigh 9-12 pounds — easier to shoot than a 3-pound duck.
My first goose-hunting adventure occurred some 4 years past. My (now) husband and his buddy, Devin, were in attendance. Our home state of North Carolina had just opened its early Canada goose season in September, a time of year that is best classified as “still summer” as opposed to “almost fall.”
The mercury hovered around 100 degrees the entire hunt, with a balmy 87 percent humidity. I, eager to impress my comrades, had gone a little crazy with the camouflage face paint. It ended up dripping in multicolored rivers down my bare arms only minutes into the hunt. I got stuck retrieving decoys and never once shot my gun. It wasn’t until months later that the stars aligned to allow my first goose kill.
Moral of the story? Goose hunting, much akin to all waterfowling, is difficult. It’s muddy, it’s exhausting and it can be downright annoying if the birds aren’t cooperating. But when the birds are plentiful and your shots connect, it’s one of the most rewarding hunting experiences you’ll ever enjoy.
Without further ado, let’s delve into The Writing Huntress’s basic guidelines for newbie goose hunters.
Chapter 1: Know your Goose
Bird identification is key. In some cases, it’s a matter of keeping or losing your hunting license if you accidentally shoot an out-of-season bird, or one that is federally protected.
Your best bet is to do a lot of studying before season — focusing on characteristics of different kinds of geese, from their honks, the way they fly, to what each one’s silhouette looks like from 30 yards away. Visit your local Game and Fish office to procure information about the kinds of geese in your area. When you’re there, ask if you can talk with a game warden or wildlife biologist, if one is available, about your identification questions.
Lucky for you, Overwhelmed, you’re focusing on Canada geese, one of the most easily recognizable geese in North America. Even though you may be comfortable visually identifying a Canada goose from a Snow goose, be sure to be absolutely positive before pulling the trigger.
Chapter 2: Shoot that 20!
Contrary to popular thought, you are completely able to kill a goose with something other than a 12-gauge, semi-automatic shotgun. How do I know? Simple, I killed my first goose with a Mossberg 500 youth-edition 20-gauge. At the time, it was the only gun I felt comfortable enough to shoot, so I used it the entirety of my first goose season, with great success.
Now, while your gun is able to shoot a goose, you still need to practice. One of the best ways to prepare for shooting flying objects is to got to the nearest skeet or sporting clay range. There, instructors can teach you how to shoot at clays moving in all sorts of directions, so that by the time webbed feet are landing on top of your blind, you’ll be ready.
Chapter 3: Bacon-Wrapped Gaggle of Geese
Many a skeptic claims that geese taste too gamey, and they’re not versatile enough to warrant shooting. These claims are utterly false. Canada geese are not only delicious, but also malleable enough to work into any dish.
My husband and I live in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, which means we kill a lot of geese, which means we eat a lot of goose. Besides making goose breakfast sausage, summer sausage, jerky and other types of sausage-esque products, we practically live off of bacon-wrapped goose poppers.
To make the mouthwatering bites, just breast out as many geese as you have handy. Once they’re breasted, you can soak the breasts in milk for a few hours or overnight, depending on how much of the gamey flavor you feel like eliminating. Take the breasts and cut them into palm-sized medallions. Then, place a piece of cheese and a jalapeño in the middle. Roll the goose, then wrap it with a piece of bacon, secure the whole combination with a toothpick, and throw them on the grill. Once the bacon and goose are cooked, you’re ready to eat!
Remember that goose hunting is multi-faceted and the learning never ends, so be sure to keep your eyes open for seminars, speakers or outdoor shows in your area. Good luck and please report back to The WON on how your season goes!
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