Goose Season Hunting Tips for New York’s Southern Tier

Due to expanding numbers of local goose populations in the South Area of New York State, there will continue to be a relatively new late Canada goose season, March 5 – 10, this year.

Hunters will be allowed to harvest five birds per person per day.  The South Area starts in Niagara County (at the Lake Ontario shoreline) and extends south in Western New York through Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties and further east along the Pennsylvania/New York border.  Check out the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) website at for the exact boundary location.

Scouting is Important

Scouting is typically 90 percent of whether or not you’ll be successful.  You’ll need to know what the birds are doing and where they’re going each day.  Remember, these birds were hunted earlier this year, especially if they are local birds, so they’ve been part of the action since last September.

Simplicity is the key.  A small number of quality-looking decoys may be a better situation than having an excessive number of imitation birds.  Good camouflage is a must, too.

Use Good Camo

By good camouflage, we mean a few different things.  One, you’ll need to match to the surroundings as best as you can.  If you’re using ground blinds, you’ll need to use whatever vegetation is available for that specific area.  If you have corn stalks in your lay-out blind or ground blind from last fall and there’s nothing like that around, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.  Don’t leave anything out around your blind that can give you away either. If there’s snow on the ground, you need to blend in as best you can.

One thing that may aid the cause is using helpful tools like Wing Wavers to help these birds focus on movement – and away from where you’re set up. By using Wing Wavers or something similar, the movement will help to attract geese near where you’re hiding out.  It will also draw their attention away from you and that’s a good thing.

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.  Much will depend on the weather for that time of year and how much open water is available. We might spend one or two days scouting before I even hunt a day.  If the birds are on private land, be sure to get permission.

We play the wind and weather to our advantage.  You don’t have to be big on blinds, with some preferring to hunt the hedge rows – especially if there are deep ditches and good natural cover.  That’s all you need to be successful.

Snow Goose Season Also Open -BONUS

The bonus is that this is a time of year when snow goose season is also open.  We’ve hunted these same areas this time of year before and noticed a good number of geese around too.  This should be fun!

The wind is a key ingredient to success.  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.  Try throwing 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.  Add, if it’s windy, the muffled sound will often go unnoticed to the birds milling around in the field adjacent to us.

When we hunt the water, we’ll be using floating goose decoys just like we would for duck hunting – leaving an opening for the birds to land in.  Later in the day is usually better for us, when birds are returning to the water after spending time in local fields feeding.  This year (2016), with the mild winter and not much ice cover, there should be plenty of water available for local bird populations.  With the mild weather, it could entice flight birds to start heading north early.  If that’s the case, we could see a mix of flight birds heading north into this South Area.

Time will tell.