Bird-hunting opportunities arrive with changing seasons

September 05, 2004|by BILL ANDERSON

For most of my adult life, September has been a month that I lumped in with summer months and fishing. A time of transition for sure, but I didn't really start thinking about hunting until October.

But times are changing and, as evidenced with the opening of the dove and resident goose season this past week, September can stake her claim as a very important month for bird hunters.

Dove season traditionally has an early-September opening day, but the resident goose season is a result of an ever-expanding population of non-migratory birds, happening in many states around the country.

Most of the shooting opportunities in the early portion of the dove season will be for resident birds. The best hunting sports in the early season include recently harvested grain fields, watering spots and roosting areas.


Dove hunting is not one of the most popular hunting sports in this region, but is hugely popular on a national basis. Nearly everyone agrees that we have enough birds to provide a lot of shooting opportunities.

Many expert shotgunners consider dove shooting to be the toughest shooting found in the Uunited States. Doves are very fast and they dodge and weave erratically in flight, making for some very tough shooting. To improve the odds, hunters usually use light loads and small shot, which increases the number of pellets in the pattern.

The early-resident goose season offers a variety of hunting situations. One obvious place to set up may be around the local farm pond where you see birds loafing, but that may be a one-time opportunity, because the geese will often move on after one shot.

The better shooting is found near food sources. Good places to hunt geese include fields of corn, soy bean and hay. Geese are grazers and sometimes prefer tender grasses to grains such as corn - particularly in the early season.

To hunt the fields, you will need decoys and a way of concealing yourself from the birds.

The resident geese will also hang out on local rivers and streams. Prime river spots include shallow gravel bars where the birds can loaf and preen during the mid-day hours. The geese respond well to calling, and a few simple calls and a few decoys and provide some great shooting opportunities.

The 2004 dove season in Maryland is once again a multi-segment season. The first is Sept. 1-Oct. 16; the second is Nov. 12-20; and the third is Dec. 18-Jan. 1. The daily bag limit is 12 with a possession limit of 24.

The early Canada goose season in Western Maryland (Western Zone) will be Sept. 1-25. The daily bag limit is eight Canada geese and the possession limit is 16. All other waterfowl hunting regulations (such as the use of non-toxic shot) apply to the September season.

Hunters must possess both state and federal waterfowl stamps and a free Harvest Information Program registration card in addition to their regular state hunting license.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

The Herald-Mail Articles