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Driftwood outdoors: February means special goose hunt

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February is a tough month for sportsmen.

Deer hunting is over, turkey season is still a couple of months away, and fishing isn’t too hot in most areas of the state.

Thankfully, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is again offering a February season for hunting Canada geese in numerous counties.

A great problem we are faced with in fall is too much opportunity for the amount of time we have to hunt.

If you’re like me, deer hunting takes up most of your time. You think about waterfowl, rabbits, pheasants and more, but you usually end up back in the deer woods.

With the February Canada goose season, there isn’t much going on to conflict with the dates, so you don’t have to choose.

The special season runs Feb. 1-15 in Johnson, Marion, Morgan, Shelby and 26 other counties.

If you live or have lived in a subdivision that has lakes or ponds, then you know how devastating overpopulations of geese can be. Not only do these geese cause you harm in your back yard, they also causeg damage to the waterfowl breeding grounds up in Canada.

The late season helps control the population of the breeding “giant” subspecies of Canada geese around urban areas, a common issue in Indiana and surrounding states. Indiana has offered hunters a late Canada goose season in select counties every February since 2008.

No special permit is needed for the late Canada goose season, and birds no longer need to be checked. A valid hunting license, Indiana waterfowl stamp privilege, signed federal duck stamp and a HIP (Harvest Information Program) number are required to hunt during this season.

According to the DNR, “Indiana hunters harvested 8,100 Canada geese during the 2013 late season, the same number as in 2012, according to estimates from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The total late-season harvest for Indiana across all six years is estimated at 41,600 geese.”

The season may be closed or the bag limit reduced in future years if local Canada goose populations are sufficiently reduced.

Based on the population reductions Indiana has seen, the bag limit is likely to be reduced to three for the 2015 late season, DNR waterfowl biologist Adam Phelps said. However, the bag limit will remain five for the upcoming February 2014 season.

Waterfowl hunting is a rush. When a goose locks up and commits to landing in front of you, adrenaline pumps through your veins. Waterfowl hunting is also special because it’s a social affair. You don’t have to sit quiet all day. You can cut up with your friends and even cook breakfast in your blind.

After spending my first 30 years as a hardcore big-game hunter, I now look forward to waterfowl hunts almost as much.

Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears Saturdays in the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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