By Howard Meyerson
Goose hunters looking to get a jump on the fall season can anticipate starting the first day of September if a package of early season rules is approved by the Natural Resources Commission when it meets in July. The commission considered the changes at its June meeting in Lansing where state wildlife officials proposed opening the early Canada goose season again on September 1.
“We recommended no changes,” said Barb Avers, waterfowl specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “We saw pretty good goose production last year which should equate to having a good Canada goose season.”
The proposed early season would run through September 10 in the Upper Peninsula and Huron and Tuscola counties. The season would be open until September 15 in the remainder of the state.
The proposal seeks four regulation changes, according to Avers. All had been discussed with the members of the state’s Citizen Waterfowl Advisory Committee, a sounding-board group of 20 waterfowl hunters from different regions that review and discuss proposed waterfowl regulations.
“The early goose season works well and is well accepted by hunters,” said Steve Wyckoff, a statewide CWAC member representing Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “We decided there was no need for change.”
Another proposed change is shifting the common gallinule season to an earlier date, opening on September 1. The move is to provide more opportunity to hunt them. The season would run until November 9 and correspond with the existing season for jacksnipes and rails.
Avers said only a handful of people hunt gallinules and no biological impact to the population is expected from expanding the season.
The common gallinule is often referred to as a common moorhen. The proposed rule change also includes making appropriate changes in state records to reflect that it is a gallinule season.
Other proposed changes include: opening the Upper Peninsula regular goose season on September 11, the earliest date possible under the federal framework for waterfowl seasons, and moving the federal youth waterfowl season to the second weekend in September rather than the third when it has been scheduled.
Shifting the youth hunt to an earlier date provides the state with more flexibility setting dates for North Zone regular duck season, according to Avers. The federal framework established by the US Fish and Wildlife Service requires a one week quiet period with no hunting between the youth hunt and the opening of the regular season.
Shifting the UP regular goose season to September 11 will maximize the opportunities for hunting geese.
“Last year the federal framework was really liberal,” Avers said. “It allowed for a 92-day goose season. We want to open that season as early as we can. Later in the season it is cold and snowy and there are no birds around.”
CWAC members agreed.
“It gives hunters an opportunity to have continuity with the early goose season,” Wyckoff said. “The bulk of the migration occurs earlier up there and we are blessed to have the number of goose hunting days we have. So we wanted the season to open on the earliest possible date.”
Avers said regular duck season dates will be approved by the NRC at its August meeting after the US Fish & Wildlife Service develops those regulations in consultation with the Mississippi Flyway Council in July.
© 2013 Howard Meyerson