Our Finest November Goose Hunts
September 30, 2010
Here's a look at where to find some great goose hunting this fall in southern New England. (November 2007)
Photo by Tom Migdalski.
New England's middle-season goose hunting season opens in November in all six states. Unlike the early and late bonus seasons, however, the bag limit is two birds per day.
Migrant Canada geese move through the Northeast during late fall, but their population is less stable than the surging numbers of resident geese, which our region has in great abundance.
According to waterfowl biologists, the goose outlook for 2007-08 is mixed. Canada and the northeastern U.S. had an unusually cool spring, and reproduction and egg hatches were almost non-existent. The bird numbers will be steady and huntable for the late fall season, but they won't be near peak density.
"Goose hunting opportunities during the regular migrant goose seasons in New England should be good, but not great, this year," said biologist Min Huang, Connecticut's Migratory Game bird Program leader. "An extremely late spring, maybe the latest in decades, in the breeding range of Atlantic Population (AP) geese will likely result in little or no successful breeding for this year.
"North Atlantic Population (NAP) geese continue to show a stable population trend, and breeding conditions in 2007 for NAP geese were not nearly as severe as for the AP birds. Resident geese are always stable, however, and continue to flourish."
This year's hunting regulations weren't available at press time; however, they should be similar to last year's dates, zones and bag limits. Before heading out, be sure to log onto your state's department of environmental protection Web site (listed below) to verify updated regulations.
Here's a look at some of the best places to go for November geese in an area near you:
Connecticut, like most states, divides its waterfowling regulations by zones. The boundary line for the two zones -- North and South -- is Interstate Route 95, which conveniently separates inland areas from the salt marshes. The 2006 mid-season opened on Nov. 23 and ran until Jan. 12 with a bag limit of two birds. The NAP H-Unit area will be open and includes the entire eastern half of the state as well as the shoreline's south zone.
In the southeast corner of the Nutmeg State, Barn Island Wildlife Management Area is a prime 707-acre marsh between Stonington and the Rhode Island border. Located on Little Narragansett Bay and south of Route 1 at the head of Wequetequock Cove, this marsh provides a good chance for geese.
Hunters may find the launch by traveling east on Route 1 to the light at Greenhaven Road. Turn south on Palmer Neck Road for 1.5 miles.
In the southwest corner of Connecticut is the 812-acre Charles Wheeler WMA on the Housatonic River. Access is in Milford one-half mile upriver from the marsh. Take I-95 to Exit 34 in Devon. Turn west on Route 1, and then north on Naugatuck Avenue. The launch is on the left. Plenty of parking is available.
Check Delorme's Connecticut Atlas and Gazetteer, Map 59, for details.
To hunt in Connecticut you'll need a federal duck stamp, a state waterfowl stamp, a Connecticut small game license and a HIP permit. For a Connecticut Waterfowl Hunting Guide and individual 8 1/2 x 11-inch maps of these and other WMAs, contact the Connecticut DEP Wildlife Division at (860) 424-3011 or log onto www.ct.gov/dep.
The resident goose population is high in Rhode Island, and with or without migrants there should have enough action to fill a two-bird limit. Last year, the regular goose season lasted for 60 days and was divided into two parts: The first half ran from Nov. 18-26, and the second half ran from Dec. 2-Jan. 21.
Narragansett Bay is always a good public hunting access area, especially when inland waters begin to freeze, which may occur in early December. This spot includes the Warwick area at Conimicut Point, Green Island and Rock Island. Boat ramps are around Narragansett Bay, but a good choice for Conimicut Point is the small sand launch at the end of Shawomet Avenue. A better ramp is off Narragansett Parkway, south of Rock Island. Wickford Harbor is another good hunting option with access off Route 1 southwest of Kingston.
For details, see DeLorme's Connecticut/Rhode Island Atlas & Gazetteer, maps 68 and 72.
For additional waterfowling information, contact the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management at (401) 789-0281 or type in www.dem.ri.gov.
While numbers of migrant geese are difficult to predict, the resident goose numbers have been very high in recent years. Biologists have pegged the number of non-migrants in Massachusetts at over 35,000 birds.
The only area open to Massachusetts' goose hunters in November is the Coastal Zone, which was open last year from Nov. 23 through Jan. 17. Daily bag limit here is two birds.
The only area open to Massachusetts' goose hunters in November is the Coastal Zone, which was open last year from Nov. 23 through Jan. 17.
Massachusetts demarcates its Coastal Zone as "eastward and southward of the Central Zone line to the coast." A detailed, paragraph-long description of the zone is available on the MassWildife Web site, www.mass.gov/dfwele, listed under the 2007-2008 Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations link.
The two most reliable public access hunting hotspots in the Coastal Zone are the Salisbury Marsh and the Parker Wildlife Refuge areas.
The Parker River site is divided into A, B and C sections, each with its own restrictions. Area A is attainable by boat only from the refuge boat ramp (vehicles and trailers must be parked in Lot 1) opposite Lot 1 or from off-refuge sites.
When planning a hunt, consult a tide chart because this launch may be inaccessible at low water, especially on a moon tide.
Area B may be accessed by boat from either the refuge ramp or off-refuge sites. For hunters without a boat, it's legal to walk into Area B from Lot 8 at Newbury Neck Road and Marsh Avenue. Gunning is allowed only within the posted "Hunting Area" signs. Reach Area B from Lot 8 one-third mile to the left of the trail's end. Hunters must set a minimum of six goose decoys and hunt within 50 yards of them. Jump shooting is not allowed.
Nelson's Island, also called Area C, may be accessed by foot only. Use Lot 9 off Stackyard Road for parking. Hunting is not permitted within 150 feet of the lot. Be sure to call for more information on current regulations, maps and conditions before hunting either Parker River or Salisbury Park. Hunters may view the area in Map 19 of DeLorme's Massachusetts Atlas & Gazetteer.
For state waterfowling regulations, log onto the Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Web site or call (508) 792-7270. For directions, maps, regulations and local conditions for Salisbury State Park, call (978)-462-4481; and for the Parker River Refuge, call (978) 465-5753.
For cozy nearby lodging, contact Stripers Inn in Salisbury. Click on www.stripersgrille.com, or call (978) 499-0400.
In New Hampshire, the North American Population of geese prefers Great Bay as a staging area rather than areas farther inland. New Hampshire also hosts a resident goose population of about 30,000 birds.
The Granite State's coastal zone is in the southeastern corner of the state east of Route 108. For the best action here this month, biologists suggest the famous Great Bay. Hunting here, as well as in Little Bay just to the north, brings a mix of resident and migrant geese.
Last year's Coastal Zone season started Nov. 2 and lasted into January. The regular season limit was two birds per day.
A good launch in the lower bay is the all-tides Chapman's Landing, which is accessed off Route 108 between Stratham and Newmarket. For access to the upper bay, try the ramp off Adam's Point Road in Durham. Check Delorme's New Hampshire Atlas and Gazetteer, Map 30, for details. A New Hampshire hunting license is required along with the usual state and federal duck stamps and HIP permit.
For more details, contact the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department at www.wildlife.state.nh.us, or call (603) 271-3211.
For local information and supplies call the only sporting goods store in the area, Suds 'n' Soda, at (603) 431-6320. The store is open daily and is on Portsmouth Avenue in Greenland.