Through the spring and summer, humans go through a transition in the eyes of resident Canada geese.
In the winter, humans usually mean death, pure and simple, as duck and goose hunters pound the birds for 60 plus days.
However, during the spring and summer, humans represent an annoyance at worst to geese and a free meal at best.
Kayak goose hunter Donnie Pearson uses those traits to his advantage.
“Geese aren’t near as spooky in the early season. They’ve seen all sorts of boat traffic — jet skis, fishing boats, even kayaks, and none of them posed a threat, till now,” Pearson said. “That doesn’t mean they’ll let you paddle up and shoot them, but they’ll often tolerate you getting close enough to make a move on them.”
Pearson’s favorite hunting grounds include any body of water where he finds geese loafing during the midday. Geese spend most September mornings feeding or trading between roosting and feeding sites, but by the middle of the day they won’t be too far from the water.
“It’s a pretty simple strategy,” Pearson said. “Paddle from point to point looking for concentrations of geese. Ideally, they’ll be grouped up inside an uninhabited cove or cut, and if they see you, they’ll either be uninterested or they’ll swim farther back into the cut away from you.”
Pearson hunts with a buddy and employs the classic pincer movement. One paddler eases down one side of the cut while the other either blocks the exit or eases down the other side. The excitement builds when one or both paddlers reach the point where the birds will have to pass on either side within range of the guns.
“Unlike ducks, geese need some running room to go from sitting on the water to clearing the treetops,” Pearson said. “Flying through the trees behind them isn’t an option, either. I’ve seen them swim to the shore and walk a little way into the woods, but they really don’t like that much, either.
“The only way out is right over our heads. It usually isn’t long before one of the sentries sounds the alarm. That’s my signal to lower the paddle, raise the gun and get ready to shoot.”