Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Why northern Maine is the best place to hunt Canada geeseBy DICK PINNEY September 08. 2018 11:40PM
I'm packing my bags with all weights of clothes for my annual early-season Canada goose hunt in Maine's largest and most northern county, Aroostook County, often referred to by native Mainers as just "the County."
Wonder why we'd travel those several hundred miles to hunt Canada geese, which we have our share of right here in the good old Granite State?
Well, that is an obvious question for those who are not familiar with that very most northern part of Maine, but on the eastern border with Canada, there's a huge area is almost flat, and a very fertile portion of land that has been the source of a huge amount of very nice potatoes. These potato farms dominate what isn't left of the mostly softwood forests that used to be the main product harvested from there.
Both the terrain and the weather were found ideal for growing crops and potatoes seemed to be the most popular. Other crops are also produced but are limited in that relatively short growing season.
It didn't take too long before potato farmers found that growing potatoes in the same gardens year after year resulted in diminishing crops in both size and quality, so they rotatrd potatoes with other crops, often grain, which were a magnet for the Canada geese which also found plenty of ponds and lakes to satisfy their needs for drinking water and safe resting areas.
We don't know where your goose hunting spots are, but the combination of the grain and water are great magnets for geese and a scattering of ducks, mostly mallards and black ducks.
We don't hunt the waterfowl on their roosting water because we've found that's a great way to get the birds to migrate to safer places - mostly on lakes, ponds and rivers. But when hunted on farm land, they will just shift to another field when hunting pressure is put on them.
Some field goose hunters go to great efforts to dig trench-like blinds or low-level blinds to hide in, but we've found that being mobile and hunting without blinds is a great way to stay on the birds. And we mostly find our next field to hunt on a short scouting drive either in the afternoon, when we don't usually hunt, or on our way back from our morning hunt, which often is over by 7:30 a.m. or thereabouts. It's a rare morning that we don't limit out on the Canadas, as our previous scouting puts us right on what we call the X.
Although we risk writing about our northern Maine goose hunts, the Aroostook County agricultural fields are enormous and there are plenty of them, so we rarely have any problem finding that someone else has set up decoys and blinds in a place we've chosen to hunt that morning or afternoon.
We always have what we call "plan B" or sometimes "plan C" to hunt, a practice that has saved many a hunt for us. And we've also found that afternoon hunts can be just as successful as the early morning ones so there's a lot of opportunities if we are flexible with our approach to spots to hunt.
There's quite a lot of controversy over the effect that calling will have on enticing geese to your decoy spread. We've been very lucky to have had personal goose calling training from some of the best and it's very funny that almost universally they will tell you that if the geese seem to be attracted to your set of decoys, don't call at all! And this works. We only call when they seem to need a little "coaxing,"
Drop us an email at email@example.com and get out there and get you some!
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.