After being hunted for nearly six months, late goose hunting can be a lot tougher than early season. But don’t worry. Tim Deaver, our shooting sports buyer, shared with us his 7 tips for success.
We’re going to cover the basics first, including when late goose season for Washington is, the goose management areas, and what you need to goose hunt before we dive into his expert tips.
When is Late Goose Hunting Season for Washington State?
Specific dates vary year to year. Late goose season for 2021 in Washington state GMA2 (see goose management areas section) is set for February 13 to March 10 on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays only. Be sure to check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for updates or changes.
Goose Management Areas
Certain areas of Washington State are open for late goose hunting. Here is a map of the GMAs from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (page 26 & 28).
Be sure to verify you’re in the correct unit before hunting.
What Do I Need To Hunt Geese
One of the most important things you need to hunt geese is knowledge of the species. You need to know what geese you can and can’t shoot. For hunters in the GMA2, you must complete an identification test online with a minimum score of 80%. Once passed, you can buy your Migratory Bird Authorization and SW Canada Goose Mandatory Harvest card.
7 Late Season Goose Hunting Tips from Tim Deaver
Now that you know when, where, and what you need to goose hunt, let’s dive into Tim’s tips for making your late-season hunt a success.
Tip 1: Scout
Scout the area you plan to hunt a day or two ahead of time if you can. Pay attention to several things here.
- What time of day the geese come in.
- Where they come in from.
- Where they land.
- If they come in one large group or small flocks.
“Be where the geese want to be and set up in those spots as best as you can” – Tim Deaver.
Hunter Tip: If you notice the spot your scouting has a lot of Duskys, then consider scouting another location.
Tip 2: Camouflauge
Camouflage is critical this time of year. There’s less vegetation out there, and you need to be as natural as possible. The geese have been hunted for near six months at this point, so they’re getting leery of anything that doesn’t blend in or look like it belongs in that particular habitat.
Tip 3: Clean Decoys
Going right along with looking natural, be sure to clean your decoys! The more realistic they look, the better. Be sure to remove all the mud and muck they may have accumulated with some soap and water.
Tip 4: Less is More
Using fewer decoys for late goose hunting is better. Tim has found that the fewer decoys he uses during the late season, the better he does. Why? This time of year, you have geese migrating south as well as geese migrating back north. The geese heading north are usually getting ready to split off into smaller family groups. So, using fewer decoys to mimic a smaller family group is more likely to attract the geese.
Tip 5: Aggressive Calling
If you get aggressive with your calls, in Tim’s experience, especially for Westerns, Lessers, and Taverner’s, you’ll be highly successful. If you are hunting with a group, have them call along with you, cause a commotion. They’re much more responsive to the calls in the late season. Cacklers, on the other hand, aren’t.
Tip 6: Afternoon Hunts
Afternoon hunts are great for water sets. The birds like to go in early to feed, especially in cold weather, and they head back to the water in the afternoon. Going in later won’t kick them out of their roost either. If you’ve done your scouting, you should already have an idea of where to go in and set up for your afternoon hunt.
Tip 7: Restraint
It’s the end of the season. This may be your last hunt, a bunch of geese fly in, and you’re ready to rock, but it’s important to practice restraint. With new or young hunters, the thrill of the hunt can get ahead of spotting the geese.
If you’re hunting with a group, have someone spot the incoming geese to see what species are flying in. Be 100% sure of what you’re shooting before you pull the trigger. You don’t want to shoot a Dusky by accident.
To Late Goose Hunt Or Not To Late Goose Hunt
Late goose hunting can yield tremendous results. If you follow the seven tips from above, you can have a successful season.