Saturday marks the opening of a special Canada goose season never before seen in Western New York. Whether you call it really late or very early, I don’t think it makes that much of a difference, the key to success for this 10-day season will be locating where the birds are. That means you’ll have to do plenty of scouting prior to the opener, as well as during the actual season, if you want to score on some birds.

This experimental season will only be for what the state calls the “South Area” based on the goose hunting zones across the state. The South Area includes most of Region 9 in the western part of the state, extending east across the Southern Tier through portions of Regions 8, 7, 4 and 3. Daily limit is five birds per person per day. If you want to see how the South Area is defined, check out the state Web site at for details.

John Supple of Youngstown isn’t a waterfowl guide, but he’s definitely addicted to chasing any type of duck or goose that’s in season. He’s already planning on hunting some local birds in Niagara County, before he heads south to the Southern Tier and hunt the legal zone to the south of key Finger Lakes that will be holding birds.

Knowing where the birds are and where they want to be at different times of the day is the key to success for any waterfowl season says Supple. Such will depend on the weather for early March and how much open water is available. I might spend one or two days scouting before I even hunt a day. I play the wind and weather to my advantage. I’m not big on blinds, preferring to hunt the hedge rows especially if there are deep ditches and good natural cover. That’s all I need to be successful. The bonus for me is that this is a time of year when snow goose season is also open, with a limit of 15 birds per person. I’ve hunted these same areas this time of year before and I’ve noticed a good number of Canada geese around, too. This should be fun!

Supple mentioned the wind as a key ingredient to success and he’s right. Birds will enter a field before landing by flying into the wind, so if you can position yourself for either pass shooting or getting the birds to land in your decoys, it can be a rewarding hunt. l just throw out a dozen or so decoys and use them as a starting point for the birds. Once the birds start landing in a field, they’ll start to pile in. When that happens, we’ll usually get plenty of shooting. And if it’s windy, the muffled sound will often go unnoticed to the birds milling around in the field adjacent to us.

Randy Tyrrell and John Van Hoff, both avid waterfowlers from North Tonawanda, are also looking forward to the new season. Much will depend on the conditions that present themselves, says Tyrrell, and how much open water is around us. If places like the Erie Canal or the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge are open, that will be different than if they are frozen up. If everything is frozen, the Niagara River will be a huge draw for birds.

If the birds are in the Niagara River roosting, we might try and hunt the water in the afternoon. “At least, if that’s what our scouting tells us,” says Van Hoff. Places like Strawberry Island, Motorboat Island and the blinds around Grand Island could all be decent spots to try if there’s plenty of ice around. If not, it will probably spread the birds out a bit more. Again, scouting will be critical.

Then we hunt the water, we’ll be using floating goose decoys just like we would for duck hunting “I’m leaving an opening for the birds to land in,” says Van Hoff. “Later in the day is usually better for us, when birds are returning to the water after spending time in local fields feeding.”

If you locate birds on private land and you want to try and hunt there, simply ask permission from the landowner. If they know that you’ll be targeting geese, there’s a good chance that they’ll be cooperative and let you hunt there, especially as far as snow geese go. Snows are normally more confined to the Finger Lakes Region for this part of the state and they can be devastating on a farmer’s field. If you do gain permission, be sure to respect that land as if it was your own. Leave it the way you found it, including removing any shell casings from any shots taken. After the hunt, offer to share the bounty. If you make up some goose sausage or jerky, drop off some of the food for a snack along with a bottle of wine or a case of beverage. It will go a long way to insure a return trip to the field.

Parker Memorial Shoot is March 8

The Don Parker Memorial 50 Bird Shoot is set for March 8 at the 3-F Club, 904 Swann Road, Lewiston. Your $20 fee will include targets, lunch and cash awards following the event. High Gun, High Handicap and Lewis Purse will all be figured into the prizes. Shooting will commence at 11 a.m. and you can register to shoot right up until 2:30 p.m.

If you’re shooting in the 3-F Club Winter Skeet League and want your scores added, simply throw in an extra $5 and both rounds will count. It’s a great way to have some shooting fun while remembering an important figure in the club that is no longer with us. If you have any questions, give Jim Perri a call at 622-2931.

Great Lakes Fishery Day is Saturday

The Friends of the Lower Great Lakes Fishery Resources Office, a support group for the local offices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will be sponsoring a Great Lakes Fishery Day on Saturday at Buffalo State College. Fly fishing expert Rick Kustich will be headlining the bill of quality speakers during the day, which will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Butler Library, Room 210. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

Kustich will be giving a talk on fly fishing for fish many people might not think about with a fly but could be loads of fun if applied properly, such as with carp, bass and other species. Other speakers will be:

• Terry Jones on local bass fishing techniques.

• Dr. John Casselman, Ph.D from Queens University will present information on water levels and climate changes that are now affecting the Great Lakes.

• Dave Tosetto of the Niagara Diving Club will share information on the adventures of diving and collecting sturgeon in the Niagara River in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

• Raymond Li, fisheries biologist with the FWS, will give a talk on habitat changes in the Great Lakes and how it affects management of the resources.

Cost of the day is $20 adults; $10 for children under 13 years of age. Cost includes the entire day of speakers, lunch and an annual membership into the Friends group. You must pre-register for the event by contacting Dave Whitt at 754-2133 or send a check to him at 702 Ridge Road, Lewiston, NY 14092. Make your check payable to “Friends of the Lower Great Lakes FRO.” Whitt can also answer any questions you may have.

Bill Hilts Jr. is the outdoor sports specialist with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at

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