The early Canada goose season opens on Sept. 1. The season was established to control populations of resident geese.
The statewide dove season opens Sept. 1. Dove numbers locally look as good or better than last year.Pennsylvania Game Commission PHOTOS
Bob Wychock’s reasons for hunting doves are simple: he likes the fast action and the Sept. 1 opener gives him a chance to get his hunting season started early.
And then there’s the meal at the end of the hunt.
“They taste great,” Wychock said. “My wife cooks them in the oven with garlic, pepper, onions and butter.”
Wychock, 76, will join legions of hunters in the field when the dove and early Canada goose seasons open on Sept. 1.
Dove season opens at noon and Wychock said he may be posted in the Plymouth Flats or walking through the fields on a Nescopeck farm.
When it comes to doves, the Parsons resident said he prefers walking to sitting.
“My hunting buddies and I line up and walk through the fields to flush the doves,” Wychock said. “Its better shooting and it’s just like pheasant hunting.”
Dove hotspots are spotty in Luzerne County, but there are a few prime areas. The Plymouth Flats usually hold strong numbers of doves because the area has cropland, water, dirt roads and roost trees.
Wychock said dead trees are also a benefit because doves like to roost in the bare branches.
Most dove hunters in the northeast focus their efforts in the area of Columbia, Montour and Northumberland counties and the Delaware Water Gap, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Northeast Region Information and Education Supervisor Tim Conway.
The areas feature an abundance of farm fields along rivers, and when the fields are cut the hunting gets better, Conway said.
“That’s where most of the hunters in this area go for doves,” he said.
Wychock said he uses dove season as a way to kick off the fall hunting seasons. Although he feels there are less doves today due to less habitat, Wychock doesn’t let it deter him from getting out.
“It’s a great time to get out because the weather is nice,” he said. “And when you get into some doves, it offers a lot of fast shooting.”
The early Canada goose season was established to reduce populations of resident geese. The 2008 Pennsylvania resident Canada goose population was estimated at 246,500, which is similar to the recent five-year average of 285,250.
Conway said the local population has been reduced, but there are still ample numbers of geese in the area.
But ample numbers don’t mean the hunting will be easy.
“They (geese) wise up real fast once the shooting starts. They’ll hold tight in the fields and won’t move until late evening,” he said.
Conway recommended hunters do some preseason scouting to pattern the geese as they move between the river and fields, similar to patterning deer as they move between bedding and feeding areas.
Geese can be hunted by boat in the water or with decoy sets in farm fields.
“We still want to reduce some of the resident goose populations and the hunting pressure from the early season seems to be working,” Conway said.
Dove season: Sept. 1-27, begins at noon and continue through sunset daily; Oct. 25-Nov. 29 and Dec. 26-Jan. 1, hunting hours a half-hour before sunrise until sunset. In all three seasons, the daily bag limit is 15, and the possession limit after opening day is 30.
Early goose season: Sept. 1 to Sept. 25. Most of the Northeast region is located in the Resident Canada Goose Zone, and the season runs from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15 (5 goose daily limit).
The southeastern portion of Luzerne County is located in the Atlantic Population Zone, and the season runs from Nov. 15 to 24 and Dec. 13 to Jan. 23 (3 goose daily limit).