It just doesn’t feel right. The temperature is way up there, and we’re trying to think about goose hunting.
Despite the disparity, the reality is here. That special Canada goose season begins Wednesday, Sept. 1, over all of Arkansas.
Because there are too many of the year-round resident Canada geese, the non-migrating subspecies called giant Canada geese, in some places. They have become so numerous as to be nuisances, and hunting is the tool that’s being used by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to try to get the numbers of geese back down to an acceptable level.
It’s a 16-day season running through Wednesday, Sept. 15. Bag limit is five a day, much more than the regular season two a day. The usual waterfowl hunting rules apply to this special hunt. Only steel shot can be used. Shotguns must be plugged so a firearm can hold no more than three rounds. Federal and state waterfowl hunting stamps must be carried by the hunter, and Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration is required. The latter is free and can be done in person or online.
A current Arkansas hunting license is needed, of course.
What has taken place in Arkansas is what happened in a couple of major cities up north — Cleveland and Toronto — 30 or so years ago. The Canada geese became too numerous.
Many of these were city park geese, and if you’ve been around geese, you can understand that excessive numbers of them leave their area messy.
The city officials in Cleveland and Toronto wanted to get rid of many of the Canada geese and couldn’t do it by hunting in those urban areas. Protests erupted when nest and egg destruction was tried, then here came some phone calls from Arkansas people — "We’ll take some of those eggs."
Come get ‘em, the Cleveland and Toronto people said, and Arkansas did.
An interesting sidenote from 1981 was the Canadian-United States red tape that was abundant, but was cut by some timely and high level phone calls. A shaker and mover in this on the Canadian end was John Craig Eaton, Canada’s version of William Dillard. Eaton received an Arkansas Traveler certificate and a lifetime Arkansas hunting license for his role in the Canada goose project.
Goose eggs were flown to Arkansas and hatched in University of Arkansas and Tyson Foods facilities. The young geese then were moved to pens at Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Dardanelle until they were able to make it in the wild. Releases of the birds were done in several areas along the Arkansas River.
It was only a couple of years before students at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville were stepping around geese and their droppings while going to and from classes and other campus activities.
Canada goose hunting in Arkansas has never approached duck hunting in popularity.
But it is an opportunity readily available to anyone wanting to get out and do some hunting, hot weather or not. Since dove hunting season will open just three days after the special Canada goose season, it is a chance for a doubleheader — geese in the morning, doves in the afternoon or vice versa.
A word of caution, though. Get all of those dove loads, lead shot shells, off your person before goingafter geese. "Officer, I just forgot" won’t cut it.
The Arkansas River valley is a prime Canada goose region, and this is from Fort Smith all the way to the Mississippi River. Some of the major lakes have large numbers of Canada geese. The upper portion of Bull Shoals Lake is one example, and the federally owned lands away from campgrounds and public accesses are huntable.
Make some phone calls to find a likely hunting spot. Take along a sizeable cooler with ice, too. Cold drinks will be welcome, and you’ll have a place to put the geese you bring down.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.