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What Are Goose Hunts?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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Goose hunts are excursions out into the fields and wetlands where hunters seek to take wild geese with firearms. Typical goose hunts take place during special hunting seasons that allow hunters to take advantage of the natural flocking and travel habits of mating wild geese. There are several species of wild geese hunted across North America, from the snow goose to the Canada goose. Unlike a duck hunt that has hunters taking ducks as they attempt to land on water, goose hunts typically take place in open grain fields as the geese prepare to land and feed. Many federal laws regarding the dangers of lead shot used in wild bird hunting have resulted in steel shot being the shotgun hunters load of choice.

High-flying wild geese present a difficult target for a hunter attempting to harvest a bird with a shotgun. The shotgun is a weapon that uses a gunpowder charge to propel a collection of shot or steel or lead pellets out of the barrel and towards the intended target. The shot begins to spread out as soon as it exits the shotgun's barrel, thus reducing the maximum effective range of the weapon. Though most goose hunts are held by hunters using full choke barrels to hold the shot pattern as tight as possible for a longer shot, hunters must rely on perfect timing to take their goose as it nears the ground to roost or feed.

Most of the birds taken during goose hunts are taken as the birds flare out in preparation for landing. This is the point where the goose is almost motionless as it attempts to reduce its forward motion to land. This offers the goose hunter the best opportunity to take careful aim at the goose and place a killing shot on the bird. Some goose hunts place a hunter on a migratory path of the big birds and requires a good shot towards a high-flying goose as it passes overhead. These hunts are not as successful for high numbers of harvested birds as compared to hunting fields.

In order to participate in wild goose hunts, the hunter must possess a valid hunting license for the area he intends to hunt as well as a federal duck and goose stamp issued by the governing body of the country hunted in. Not all areas are open to goose hunts and hunters may not enter protected land to hunt. Special hunting lands are often open for special hunting seasons and some are opened on a lottery draw.

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Discussion Comments
By Chmander — On May 14, 2014

@Viranty - I just did some research on it. While I don't think you need a "license", especially because you're not hunting, it's been banned in several states, since it's essentially the torture of animals. It really depends on where you live, though. For example, it used to be banned in Chicago, but that was quickly re-appealed.

By Viranty — On May 13, 2014

Speaking of goose hunts, the article doesn't bring this is up, but do people also need a license in order to force feed geese, or is it considered illegal no matter what? I've never seen it in action, but I have heard that around the holiday season, there are those who like to force feed geese (by literally shoving a tube down their throat). It sounds inhumane, but I'm guessing that with a license, it's OK, right?

By Hazali — On May 13, 2014

Though I've never gone hunting before, I really appreciate the fact that you need a license in order to do so. Not only does it make things much more "legal", but it also allows you to know your rights. There will always be those who hunt without a license, and aren't even hunting for the meat, but are trying to make clothing and items. It's not always "proper" to do this, and no matter what the case is, you need permission to do so.

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