Count ‘em — just a dozen days until Ohio’s first hunting seasons of the year. It starts with the annual early Canada goose season, a two-week crack at reducing the local over-abundance of the big birds. The season runs Sept. 1 through 15 with a generous daily limit of five and a possession limit of 15.
As usual, there is no shortage of geese in northeast Ohio, and there is no shortage of places to kill them. Canada geese, once considered cute or picturesque by pond and lake owners, are now real problems because of their unchecked numbers and resulting waste. There are many defensive solutions devised by wildlife management officials for landowners, but this special two-week early season has been deemed the most effective.
Not just geese
Other hunting opportunities beginning Sept. 1 include snipes, rails and common moorhen. What are rails and moorhens? They are migrating wetland fowl that are almost invisible, at least in this neck of the woods. It’s doubtful anyone in northeast Ohio has ever hunted them, seen them or found a taxidermist who has ever had one presented to them for mounting.
Beware the snipe
Snipe, on the other hand, have had many a person in pursuit. Indeed, snipe can be the focus of young, anxious and gullible hunters who have been introduced to the sport with the challenge of collecting a snipe or two. Of course, snipe are most often found in stinky swamps where mosquitoes and other biting insects thrive and grow to the size of an everyday snipe.
Secretive snipe — perhaps bordering on imaginary but claimed to be great eating birds — foster colorful stories by elderly men doing the telling and young ears doing the listening. It’s odd. Most snipe hunts seem to happen just before the peak of the season or just after, which often means the birds are absent at the time.
Ohio’s early teal season, Sept. 5 through 20, is another story. Teal are real ducks, typically numerous, and extreme flyers that provide excellent hunting opportunities for waterfowlers in our region of the state. Teal frequent the hidden waters of overgrown swamps and the backwaters of larger lakes and reservoirs. With a daily limit of six and possession limit of 18, teal hunting can be a great way to start the hunting seasons.
It is extremely important that teal hunters be positive they have the correct target and don’t shoot at other puddle ducks by mistake. Teal hunters should let ducks fly past their blind once for positive ID. Teal will typical return to the call and decoys after their first pass.
Another challenging hunt is for American woodcock, often called “timberdoodles,” with a later season of Oct. 10 through Nov. 23. Their top habitat is damp, lowland with low cover such as saplings and tall brush.
Timberdoodles are worm eaters, and they go after earthworms with long, pointed beaks. Woodcock hold well for pointers or flushing breeds, but they are a challenge when it comes to preparing them for dinner. Oddly, many dogs will hunt woodcock with zest but won’t retrieve them.
Perhaps most popular is Ohio’s two-part dove season, running Sept. 1 through Nov. 8 and Dec. 12 through Jan. 1, 2016. The daily limit for doves is 15, with a possession limit of 45.
Dove season was extended by several days last fall and that extension continues this year. As dinner fare, dove breast take the lead, followed by teal. A distant and much lower ranking is the breast of Canada goose. Most goose hunters have gone to making heavily seasoned sausage or wood smoking to make their goose breasts more palatable. Roasted whole goose is made better with shredded potato stuffing.
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