Fall Goose Hunt

Migratory birds are in the Air!

Outdoorsman Mathew Koprash shares keys to success as he preps for fall goose hunting in Northeastern Ontario.

September is here in Northeastern Ontario, and the annual migration of ducks and geese is upon us!  Early morning and evening skies are starting to fill with familiar honks and V formations; quickly we turn our heads to to sky to see a flock's size and travel direction. We also start seeing more birds filling our fields, parks, golf courses and recreational facilities. These are all daily reminders to us waterfowl hunters in the region that the time is now to prepare for and take part in the upcoming goose season.

Goose opens in the Northern Zone on September 1 and runs until December 16, 2016. Bag and possession limits should be reviewed prior to hunting any WMU as daily limits range from 10 geese from September 1-9, and five geese thereafter, never exceeding a 15-goose possession limit. Don’t forget you need a migratory bird stamp (available at the Post Office) and a small game license to hunt waterfowl in Ontario.

loaded for goose

Preparation is critical to a successful hunt. For starters, do a thorough review of all your decoys. Check for damage, paint finish, and components (weights and strings for floaters and field stands). Paint can be touched up, while holes and cracks can be repaired using silicon or epoxy. Ensure all decoys are sitting true and lifelike. A quality set of decoys runs around $150, and will last many seasons with the right attention and care. Don’t be scared to check Kijiji as you never know what might come up.

Ensure all decoys are sitting true and lifelike.

Skeet shooting should have already been completed throughout the offseason, but if not, get out with a box of shells and clay to make sure you are ready. Being comfortable with your firearm is one key to success. When out shooting clays, try shooting with your waterfowl attire on. Make sure you are comfortable shouldering your shotgun, especially if you have treated yourself to a new jacket and pants. 

Firearm maintenance is another necessary check and preparatory item; mechanisms should be well lubricated, barrel free of debris, and any chokes checked for a tight fit and smooth circular opening.

bringing Them In

Calling is a form of art and should never be taken for granted or relied upon the day-of with no practice. I always keeping a goose or duck call in my vehicle for long drives in order to practice and become more and more confident with my calling techniques. It is better to learn in the comfort of your home, vehicle or nearby field, rather than when it matters most and your confidence is low.

Calling can make or break a flock from committing to your spread; quite often you can swing a flock from the distance. If you have had this happen to you before, you understand the adrenaline rush and sense of accomplishment that comes with it. Practice, practice, practice – you can surprise even yourself with these skills!

Canada geese in flight. Photo: Liz West, Flickr.

Ideal decoy spread patterns vary from one hunter to the next, and can include as few as a dozen decoys and as many as 200! One of the most import details I can provide, regardless of the number of decoys, is using a cup formation where you want the geese to land, always keeping the wind at your back.

Geese and ducks almost always prefer to land with the wind in their face as it allows them to slow down for a gentle landing. This in turn puts you in the best place for a shot, rather than attempting to shoot on the fly. Confidence, accuracy and a well placed shot are all keys to a successful hunt that you can brag and talk about for many years to come.

Hunt the Northeast

The Northeastern region is a part of the Hudson and James Bay flyways, and many outfitters offer the chance to have a successful and everlasting hunting memory. I still reflect on the day I shot three geese with three shots all due to preparation, patience, quality decoys and spread, undetected calling, and shot placement. A little bit of luck never hurts either.

See our complete list of outfitters and guides to find more hunting                                    opportunities in your area!

If you are a do-it-yourself outdoors person, take a drive through farming country or on local waters. Fields, lakes and ponds provide excellent opportunities to call and attract a flock to your spread. Make note of large flocks and flyways, focusing in on the highest densities and routes most travelled.

If eyeing private land, be kind and courteous when approaching a landowner for permission to hunt their property and respect their wishes; offer a helping hand at the end of the day and always leave the locations as they were before your arrival. Remember that this is a privilege not a right.


The season is here and it would a shame to take it all in from the sidelines. Don’t let stories and photos fill you mind with "what if’s" and "I wish I could have’s." Put a plan in action and test your skills this fall! The rush that will overcome you will ignite a rapid heartbeat, reminding you of your latest sprint. This experience makes it all worth the effort.

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