One of the biggest shames that has happened to our outdoor world has been the domestication of the once revered “wild” Canada geese by well-meaning citizens who marvel at the fact that they can hand-feed them.
Little do they know that they are not doing these once wild critters any good with their stale bread.
There was a time when, during the fall of the year, huge flocks of these huge wild birds would wing their way to more southern climates for the winter and then make the return trip to northern breeding areas during the spring.
Of course, this was in a period when much of our population used the great outdoors for hunting.
I am flooded with memories (one of the good things about being an old geezer) of the coming of fall in the Village of South Meriden.
The air would be perfumed with the aroma of burning leaves that had already fallen as home owners cleared their lawns for the coming winter. And to make it even more memorable, we would stop to look up in the sky as immense V’s of Canada geese passed overhead on their southern journey.
They were as wild as could be and would never take a handout of bread or other junk food from a human. When they had to feed it would most often be a cut-over farm field where the corn had been harvested or on a body of water, where they would dine on aquatic vegetation.
Of course, many of the farms are now gone and most bodies of water are surrounded by homes.
Back then, the haunting sound of their honking would drift down on us as we stood in wonder at the marvel of seeing these wild creatures that were just passing through our state.
Then a change in our weather began to appear on the horizon. In our area, back in the 40s and 50s, we would often be skating on frozen ponds by Thanksgiving. This was one reason why Canada geese never stayed the winter.
Slowly, but surely the weather pattern seemed to change, and while we did experience some rough winters as far as snowfall went, it was a bit warmer. In some spots, the open water stayed open, and this became an invitation for some of the Canada geese to stay in our state for the winter.
Then, when spring came, they decided to stay and kept breeding and breeding and breeding and, before you knew it, we were overrun with what is now known as “resident” or, better yet, “nuisance” Canada geese.
At first, many of us thought this was pretty neat having these wild critters calling our area home. But as often happens in nature, their numbers got out of whack with the habitat. As the flocks of geese grew larger, they began to encroach on human territory like golf courses, sporting fields, private lawns, ponds and parks.
To make matters worse, some well-meaning folks began to feed them, especially in spots like Hubbard Park. They think it is marvelous that they can get so close to what they perceive to be a wild creature.
What the geese do to any area they choose to feed on is unsanitary, to say the least, and can even cause disease in both the geese and humans.
Just the other evening Edna and I took a ride down to Habershon Field and the outfield was literally covered with flocks of Canada geese. Another time it was the athletic field at Platt High School.
These Canada geese have the ability to drop a quart of poop a day and kids play sports in these same areas. YUCH!
I did notice that we have “Do Not Feed Wildlife” signs on our cherished Meriden Green, yet the citizenry flocks to Hubbard Park to feed the Canada goose flocks that have virtually taken up permanent residence there.
While hunting Canada geese comes under federal and state guidelines, preventing of the public from feeding them comes under our city regulations. This would mean putting up signs and ENFORCINIG THEM! (Of course, we all know that nobody pays any attention to signage anyway, like “No Turn On Red,” “No Smoking In Parks,” “No Texting or Cell Phone Use while Driving.”)
The DEEP has done its best trying to control the numbers of resident Canada (or should we now call them Connecticut geese?). An early season on them begins tomorrow (Sept. 1) and runs through Sept. 29.
The season is broken into two parts: Sept. 1-29 in the Northern Zone (North of I-95) and Sept. 15-29 in the Southern Zone (South of I-95). There is a generous daily bag limit of 15 geese with a 45-goose possession limit.
That being said, this hardly even comes close to what some anti-hunters claim is a “slaughter.” The geese that have taken residence at Hubbard Park and have soiled just about all of it with the presence and stench of goose poop cannot be hunted. In fact, unless you have privy to some farm land with cut-over corn fields and hay fields or various spots on some of the rivers and waterways in Connecticut, finding spots to hunt geese can be difficult.
You could try booking a goose hunt with Millstream Hunting Preserve in Lebanon. They have some pretty good areas available. Give Don Favry a call days at 860-836-5744 or evenings at 860-295-9974.
I talked to Favry and he is already booking goose hunts and getting ready for the upland game season which begins Sept. 15 at Millstream. Be advised that you do need ALL of the migratory stamps to hunt waterfowl at Millstream.
The August 20018 to March 2019 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide tells of changes and new regulations regarding various migratory birds, including stamps and permits affecting requirements to hunt waterfowl, woodcock, snipe, rails and crows. The former $13 Connecticut duck stamp has now merged with the $4 HIP permit into a single $17 migratory bird conservation stamp.
A $25 federal duck stamp is also required and can be purchase at any post office.
Interested in free seminars? You must pre-register using your conservation ID number (top of your license).
Small game clinic: Small game is one of the most overlooked types of hunting. This clinic is designed to give hunters the tools and knowledge to hunt small game in Connecticut.
Habitat techniques, tactics and game care will be covered. Participants will have an opportunity to skin a squirrel and receive some great recipes.
Clinics are Saturday, Sept. 8 at Franklin WMA at 391 Route 32 in North Franklin and Sunday, Sept. 16 at Sessions Woods WMA at 341 Milford Street (Route 69) in Burlington.
There will also be a waterfowl hunting seminar sponsored by the CT Waterfowl Association. This seminar will provide participants with all of the basic information needed to get started and knowledge to become successful waterfowl hunters.
Expert instructors will provide interactive presentations on various aspects of duck and goose hunting, including decoy spreads, biology, shooting, calling and hunting techniques. The date is Sunday, Sept. 9 at the Wallingford Rod & Gun Club at 411 North Branford Road in Wallingford.
As Ted Nugent says, “I can smell the fall!” See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.