Never a better goose hunting season

Published: Aug. 23, 2019 at 5:28 PM CDT
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While the calendar still says summer, one of Wisconsin's oldest fall traditions is just around the corner, with some hunting seasons opening as early as September 1.

And for the 80,000 waterfowl hunters in Wisconsin, times have never been better.

"When I started goose hunting in the 1980s, the goose season was 10 days long and you got a permit to kill a goose," DNR wildlife biologist Jeff Pritzl remembers.

Today, thanks to highly successful conservation efforts, Pritzl says 160,000 Canada geese call Wisconsin home year-round and an estimated 300,000 migratory Canada geese pass through our state each fall.

"Because we've got plenty of local geese, as most people I think would agree, we can have a pretty liberal bag limit without having a negative impact on the migratory birds that'll be showing up here in mid-September."

From September 1 through September 15, in what's considered the early goose season where hunters pursue resident birds, the bag limit is five geese per day. After that, it's three birds per day--- an increase from two that went into effect last year.

Pritzl says after growing exponentially during the 1990s and 2000s, the goose population in Wisconsin has leveled off, thanks in part to increased bag limits.

"Goose use of the landscape has changed quite a bit," Pritzl said. "They use urban water as their night roosting and refuge and sanctuary as opposed to some of the more rural places, so a lot of the goose hunting has shifted to hunting those birds that are seeking refuge in town, but they fly out onto the rural landscape for feeding, and so it's provided a lot of good field hunting as opposed to the more traditional marsh hunting of waterfowl, so the goose hunters have followed that shift."

And Northeast Wisconsin is as good as it gets.

"If you take Horicon out of the picture, and associated Dodge County, the highest goose harvest in the state is always Brown, Outagamie and Manitowoc County."