OUTDOORS WITH WEHRLE: Goose season opens Thursday

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T/LCL Outdoors Sports Editor
Bill Wehrle column

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T/LCL Outdoors Sports Editor

Missouri’s North Zone duck hunting season opened last Saturday, but goose season doesn’t open until this coming Thursday. It’s one of the few hunting seasons that doesn’t open on a Saturday.

This probably left several duck hunters “chomping at the bit” this week when geese came right in to their decoys while duck hunting when they were not legal to shoot. Don’t fret, they’ll probably stop teasing you when their season finally opens next Thursday.

Since most of our geese nest further north than the drought-stricken prairies, there should be plenty of geese migrating through here.

Goose season will run until Feb. 8, well past the end of our duck season on Dec. 28, so probably you’ll have ducks coming in to your goose decoys in January when they will no longer be legal to shoot. Do you suppose waterfowl read the regulations and just do that to frustrate hunters by showing up when they’re not legal to shoot?

Goose hunting regulations this year are the same as they’ve been for a while.

The daily limit will be three (3) Canadas and/or brant (combined), two (2) white-fronted geese (specklebellies), and 20 light (snow, blue, or Ross’) geese, with a possession limit of nine (9) Canadas/brant and six (6) specklebellies. There is no possession limit on light geese.

Shooting hours remain from a half-hour before sunrise until sunset, and non-toxic shot must be used.

Fall firearms turkey season ended Oct. 31 and, for the first time since 2010, I failed to harvest a fall turkey. I only managed to get out and hunt about 10 times and I never saw a turkey while hunting.

Based on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s fall firearms turkey harvest statistics, I wasn’t the only hunter to be skunked this fall. Statewide, fewer than 1,700 turkeys were checked in, well under the lowest fall harvest ever of 1,952 in 2019. Guess it just wasn’t a good fall turkey year.

Archery hunters are doing really well on deer, with more than 25,000 checked in already and lots of archery season left.

They have to stop archery hunting next Friday for the duration of the November firearms deer season (Nov. 13-23), but then can resume archery hunting until their season closes on Jan. 15.

Bowhunters have already checked in almost 1,000 turkeys, and likewise have until Jan. 15 before that season closes for the year. Last year, bowhunters recorded almost 3,000 turkey kills, quite a little better than fall firearms turkey hunters.

Duck season has been open for only a week, so it’s too early to speculate on how well duck hunters are going to do this year.

There are some ducks around and an arctic cold front or two should bring some more through this area. Hopefully, there are still lots of ducks north of this area waiting to be pushed on south by wintry weather.

Quail and pheasant seasons are open, too, so there’s plenty of hunting going on.

Clay target shooting is still available at Trenton on nice Saturdays, but their leagues are over for the year. Before you go, give Dick Thompson a call at 660-359-1964 to see if they are open that day. A little clay target practice could improve your kill ratio on ducks, quail and pheasants.

Good hunting!

(Bill Wehrle’s “Outdoors” column appears in the C-T every Saturday and LCL every Monday)