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Resident-Goose Hunting in Maryland with Jeff KreitClick to enlarge

How to Hunt the Last Few Days of the Season

Editor’s Note: Jeff Kreit of Baltimore, Maryland, an avid geese hunter and an Avery Outdoors Pro Staff team member, has hunted geese since he was 3-years old. He hunted only the Eastern Shore of Maryland until about 14-years ago, when the resident population of geese in Maryland exploded. “Instead of hunting out of pits like I usually would, I bought a trailer to carry my decoys and layout blinds and became a mobile goose hunter,” Kreit says.

Question: Jeff, when you’re hunting the last week of the resident-goose season, which occurs just before the 14th of February, how are you taking birds on those last days that you hunt?
Kreit: We’ve become nomadic goose hunters. Because we have permission to hunt a lot of fields and farms in our area, we can go to the places where we see the geese when we get ready to hunt them. There are certain fields and farms we only hunt the last week of the season. The geese haven’t seen hunters there all season long, so they’re comfortable coming to those fields to feed. By scouting, we’ll know where in the fields those birds like to concentrate. We may be hunting some of the same farms we’ve hunted in the earlier season, but we’ll either be hunting different spots on an earlier field or completely-different fields.

Although the term resident geese refers to the birds, resident hunters usually know more about where these geese are at different times of the year than anyone else does. The hunters often scout every day as they go back and forth to work and school, to the store or to wherever the resident geese travel. We don’t have to take a day off and scout for geese, because we’ve got a history on these geese and we know where to expect them to be almost any time we hunt.

Mobility is also a huge advantage. With all of our decoys and equipment stored in trailers, we can quickly move in, set up, hunt and be gone, leaving no sign that we were ever there. We’re seeing more hunters with trailers carrying large numbers of decoys instead of putting decoys out and leaving them out for a long time. As the geese have learned where the hunters are, the hunters have to know more about where the geese are, and we have to become much-more mobile than ever before. Click to enlarge

Having permission to hunt where the geese are is another key to our success. The people in our hunting party know different farmers who will allow us to hunt their fields. Many times, we can put two or three farms together and not have another group of hunters setting up decoys and calling just across the hedgerow from us. We’ve been hunting some of these farms for 20 years or longer, and that’s one advantage resident geese afford to resident hunters. The geese are on the lands we can hunt, and we don’t have to compete with other hunters on the same farm.

Farmers may be reluctant to allow hunters on their land because a careless hunter can create ruts in their roads and fields. However, farmers often welcome hunters they can trust to treat their property respectfully. A good hunter is also a good guest on other people’s land. To this end, we carry our decoys in the Avery Outdoors 6-Slot Decoy Bags. When the field is wet, we can carry a dozen or more decoys at a time in these bags rather than driving out into the field and rutting it up. The bags allow us to carry more decoys quickly than we can if we don’t have the bags. We don’t drive our vehicles out on soft or wet land and create a problem for the farmer. Now, I’m a big boy, and I can carry four of those bags at one time. So, I can put out 2-dozen decoys in one trip from the trailer to the field with these bags.

Question: How do you carry that many decoys?
Kreit: I put a bag on each shoulder and carry a bag in each hand. When you’re carrying decoys, weight’s not the problem. It’s the bulk of the decoys. So, if you can keep the decoys in a bag, and all you have to carry is the handles of the bags on your shoulders or in your hands, carrying 2-dozen decoys out in to a field isn’t difficult. These bags also make taking the decoys out of the field and back to the trailer quicker and easier. Too, they make storing the decoys much-less problematic and protect the decoys from damage.

Question: What call are you using in the late season?
Kreit: We’re using the Zink Paralyzer SR-1. I like this call because we can produce a lot of different sounds and vary the volume.

Question: How do you know what calls to give the geese in the late season?
Kreit: We usually start off with clucks, and according to how the geese respond, we determine what we need to do to get those birds into our blinds. The ability to read geese and determine what calls they do and don’t want to hear is the real secret to effective goose calling. Some days geese respond to a lot of calling, and other days they’ll come in better to very-little calling. But you have to let the geese tell you what type of calling they want. Since a goose is a really-vocal animal, even in the late season, we’ll still be talking to them wClick to enlargeith our calls. Knowing what to say and when to say it is what makes the geese decide to lock up and come into the decoys. If we have eight hunters in the late season, all our hunters will be talking to the geese.

Question: Can you usually limit-out on one field, or do you need to move around?
Kreit: We almost always get our limit of five geese per man on one field on the mornings we hunt.

Question: Why is there a break in the resident goose season from September 26 to November 14?
Kreit: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has done an extremely-good job of keeping up with the Atlantic flyway geese and the resident geese. They know where they are, where they come from, where they go, and when they move. Maryland’s DNR has learned that from September 26 to November 14, many of the Atlantic flyway geese are migrating through our resident-goose zone. Therefore, to protect the flyway geese, they shut down the resident-goose season from September 26 to November 14 to let those flyway geese come through the resident-goose zone unmolested. If you think about it, this is a tremendous management system and ensures that the resident-goose harvest doesn’t really impact the Atlantic flyway harvest.

Question: Jeff, you’ve mentioned that some of your resident geese aren’t residents of Maryland. How does that work?
Kreit: I killed a goose in the resident-goose zone this year that was banded as a resident goose in New Jersey. Many times we’ll get bands from Pennsylvania, New York or other resident-goose populations north of us, especially when there’s a severe winter in the north. But research has shown that these are still resident geese, and they’re not a part of the Atlantic flyway goose population. So, if we take a goose banded in another state as a resident goose, we’re still shooting resident geese and not flyway geese. The resident geese we hunt aren’t strictly Maryland residents. Some are residents of other states that moved to Maryland once they haven’t had water to sit on because the northern states have iced-up. We get quite a few New Jersey resident geese because New Jersey bands a lot of their geese in the summertime. There are really two-different goose migrations that come to Maryland. One is the resident goose migration, and the other is the Atlantic flyway goose migration.Click to enlarge

Question: When is the Atlantic flyway goose season?
Kreit: The Atlantic flyway season comes in the second week of November and runs until the first of December. Then it closes for a few weeks for deer season and opens back up again the middle of December and finishes at the end of January. For this reason, when you’re hunting geese in Maryland, you need to know the Atlantic flyway season and bag limit and zones where you can hunt them. Also, you need to know the resident-goose season and bag limits and where you can hunt them. I’ve found that since we have a more-liberal season and a larger bag limit on resident geese, I prefer to hunt the resident geese.

Question: How do you decide which type of geese you’re going to hunt?
Kreit: The weather dictates whether I’m hunting Atlantic Population (AP) or Resident Population (RP) geese. On the days when we have fog, rain and wind, I’ll hunt the RP geese, because these are goose-weather days. We should be able to take more geese on those days than on clear, bright, bluebird days. On bluebird days, we’ll hunt geese in the AP zone because we know we won’t be able to take as many geese. Therefore, we’re satisfied with two geese instead of five geese. The weather in Maryland dictates whether our goose hunt will be for AP or RP geese each day we hunt. There aren’t many places in the country that have the kind of goose season we have and afford as many goose-hunting opportunities as Maryland.

Question: Where’s the furthest away a resident-goose has been banded that you’ve taken in Maryland?
Kreit: New York.

Question: Where’s the furthest away a flyway goose has been banded that you’ve taken in Maryland?
Kreit: Quebec.

Check back each day this week for more about "Resident-Goose Hunting in Maryland with Jeff Kreit"

Day 1: Decoys, Calls and Blinds for Resident-Goose Season
Day 2: Resident Geese vs. Atlantic Geese
Day 3: Big Decoy Spreads
Day 4: How to Hunt the End of the Season
Day 5: How to Hunt the Last Few Days of the Season


Entry 441, Day 5