It’s February. You’re sick of deer hunting. Your rabbit dogs are dead tired. The woods are too wet to squirrel hunt. Turkey hunting is more than a month away. It is way too cold to fish — besides the bass boat is still in storage.
Yet there is a clawing yearn to hunt something, to get outdoors again out from under the hot air furnace, honey-do chores and real work.
So what options are left? How about a goose hunt?
I’ll admit right up front I am not a goose hunter. I know what a Canada looks like and a snow goose. I had no idea what the light-goose category included. I noticed this year that Mississippi has a Light Goose Conservation Order listed on its 2009-10 hunting season cards for Feb. 1-5 and Feb. 8-March 31. Since it piqued my interest, I was sure other hunters would want to know more. So I did some research.
“A light goose is defined as a snow, blue or Ross’ goose,” said Ed Penny, waterfowl program coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Truth is the populations of these species have been booming over the past decade. Hunting opportunities have been expanded by longer seasons and larger bag limits up and down the flyway.
Special seasons have also been added including the new Light Goose Conservation Order, which is an attempt to help control the ever-expanding numbers of certain species of geese. And lucky for us, the chosen method for extra controls is via hunting. For these hunts, there are no bag limits.
Back as early as the 1990s, biologists working in the Canadian Arctic documented the habitat damage due to excessive grazing from overabundant light geese. Within a few years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized a need for an Environmental Impact Statement to recommend solutions to the overpopulation of the light geese and the habitat damage they were causing.
Among the chosen solutions was to allow hunters to reduce populations through conservation orders. In Mississippi, that means no limits, electronic calling, unplugged shotguns and extended hunting hours.
Mississippi goose action
“If you want to maximize your efforts for a late-season hunt for light geese, then set your sights on either the Howard Miller Wildlife Management Area or the O’Keefe WMA,” Penny advised. “Both of these public lands were created for waterfowl hunting, and should be good bets for shooting action on light geese.”
Howard Miller WMA is located near Rolling Fork in Sharkey County north of Vicksburg on U.S. Highway 61. This WMA consists of 2,420 acres, and was obtained because of its habitat potential to attract ducks and geese.
Special regulations always dictate the waterfowl hunts on state-owned WMAs, so be sure to research information at www.mdwfp.com, or call the area manager, Bryan Williamson at 662-859-3421.
O’Keefe WMA is located in Quitman County near the town of Lambert west of Batesville. The area contains 6,239 acres, and like Howard Miller is well known as a prime spot for waterfowl hunting. Call area manager Robbie Kiihnl at 662-326-8029 to inquire about the special light-goose hunting on this property.