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Geese From Top To Bottom
When things work right, which happens when a bunch of geese are gilding in low and close, shooting is a little easier and a lot more effective. Birds that go down when that happens usually stay down.
"OK -- here it is," he said. "Looking at the western Central Flyway population of white geese, production is expected to be better this year than last. Near average for population."
Breeding ground surveys show a few more young than last year, he continued, "but it's going to be an average year."
In the Panhandle and South Plains, most goose hunts are in grain or wheat fields. On guided hunts, outfitters usually put out 5 to 15 dozen decoys.
Guide Dane Swinburn, who runs Tule Creek Bird Hunts out of Tulia, regularly harvests Canada, snow, and speckle-bellied geese. Most hunts are half-day affairs, starting early in the morning.
"While we do take snow geese and Ross' geese," he writes on his Web site, "we specialize in dark geese (lesser and greater Canadas) and speckle-bellied geese."
For the last five years, Smokey and Kathy Rathburn, owners of Webfoot Connection Inc., have averaged 7,000 Canada geese a season. They operate in the peanut country of North-central Texas, about an hour's drive north of Abilene.
They note on their Web site: "This small agricultural area winters in excess of 500,000 to 1,000,000 geese every hunting season. These geese have already migrated, so we are right in the middle of their everyday food source for the entire season."
He further reported that whitefront numbers look better than last year, both along the Rolling Plains and the coast. "There was a little better production than last year," he said.
"Bottom line," said the TPWD's Dave Morrison, "this should be a better goose season than last year." Now who could complain about that?
Canada geese look to be more plentiful this year as well. "In the tallgrass prairie, there was poor nesting last year, but this year it is reported as improved," he said.
No matter the numbers, no discussion of goose hunting along the Coastal Prairies should go without a tip of the camouflaged hat to the late Marvin Tyler. For all practical purposes, he invented goose hunting in Texas. Hunters like old Aynesworth have been taking potshots at honkers as long as rifles and shotguns have been around. But most geese were taken by duck hunters sitting in their blinds, or by folks who set out life-sized goose decoys until Tyler gave it some thought.
In 1954, just four years after Tyler knocked down his first snow goose, he had an idea that revolutionized Texas goose hunting. Instead of using expensive decoys, why not spread a bunch of white baby diapers across a coastal field? Pulled up just right, to an airborne goose they would look just like another goose.
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