The month of September is fast approaching, allowing hunters the anticipation of some upcoming opening days.
Traditionally, dove and goose season has been the big excitement for the start of another hunting season. While the temperatures can still be uncomfortable, some good wing shooting can be had if and when the birds fly. With abundant food sources, doves and geese do not need to fly far to find something to eat.
Scouting is always beneficial for enjoying success in the early September season, although doves and geese often will abandon a feed for no good reason. The harvesting of crops and new growth emerging on cut fields seems to keep the birds on the move in search of the next smorgasbord. Agricultural fields in proximity to the roost, grit and water should allow some dove sightings. The best hunters can do is to try to position themselves in a likely flyway and then adjust as bird movements dictate.
Scouting in the field with a shotgun in hand is perhaps the funnest way to learn what the birds are doing, and on occasion one may find themselves on the X. While some areas can historically produce good bird hunting, everything changes and it pays to always keep an eye out for birds in flight.
With comfortable temperatures and uneducated birds, the early season is a great time to introduce someone new to wing shooting. Hunters are allowed 15 doves a day and eight geese, although shooting a limit is not the main objective of the hunt. Enjoying the outdoors and the challenge of bagging a bird on the wing is what makes the September season so much fun.
After a long offseason, my shot is often rusty, and it can take a few flights before everything realigns. In years past, I have always carried plenty of ammo in anticipation of an epic hunt. In most instances, that resulted in nothing more than taking several boxes of shells for a walk, although on rare occasions, I have run out despite carrying a surplus.
When the birds are on the wing and the action is intense, it is a poor time to be leaving the blind in search of more shells. Sharing the same gauge shotgun with a hunting partner is convenient should one or the other run low on shells.
Opening day for dove and goose is Sept. 1, and a migratory bird license is required. Goose hunters will also need to possess a signed federal duck stamp along with steel shot or a non-toxic alternative to lead.
Recently, the opening day of squirrel season has been changed to allow an early chance at harvesting some bushy tails. This year the season will open on Sept. 11 for adult and youth hunters. Squirrel hunting is a challenge, and with abundant numbers, hunters can refine their skills well in advance of big game seasons.
A good time afield and some excellent table fare are also obvious benefits to hunting squirrels.
Prior to the special youth big game hunts, squirrels were traditionally what most hunters began targeting. Now many young hunters harvest a turkey or deer as their first kill and miss out on the challenge of squirrel hunting. Squirrels are indicators of food sources and quite often when found in high numbers, they will show a hunter where success can be had on bear, deer and turkey.
Harvesting squirrels early in the year will fill the freezer while also leaving food sources to remain on the ground to attract big game.