While the hunting season on PEI runs to December 31 (with limits for Canada Geese reduced from five per day to three effective November 15), the last day we had hunters was November 22. We try to wrap things up by the third week in November as we always have a concern about early freeze ups or snow storms.
The 2014 season on the Island in general was excellent, as the migration numbers remained excellent, following on the heels of a tremendous migration in 2013, a year in which we enjoyed our most productive season in our 27 year history. We averaged over nine geese per hunter, a number that until last year, I did not thing was attainable (six geese per hunter would be an average to good year, while seven to eight would be considered excellent, with eight being the best we ever did until 2013). Migration is not the only factor that affects results of course. There are three Outfitters on the Island that do most of the commercial hunting and we all have farmers we have dealt with for years and some years the cropping works out really well and other years we might lose a couple of fields that are normally great goose producers. Fields on the Island have a three year rotation, potatoes to grain to hay in the case of potato growers, so if one of your best fields is in hay, you have a bit of a problem. Farmers are planting a lot of soybeans now which the geese are taking to in larger numbers and many dairy and beef farmers plant a lot of corn for silage, which can be a great goose crop. Corn does not normally come into play until November which is an issue for Outfitters since the season now starts October 01. As well, corn harvesters are now efficient to the point where often there is only enough feed left to hold tending geese for a few days. For long term hunting results, grain and potatoes still lead the way.
Over the last decade warm temperatures in October have become as issue for all hunters on the Island. During the first two weeks of the season you can count on temperatures being in the sixties F and October 11, 12 and 13 this season were all over 70 degrees. Local hunters as a rule do not bother going out in that but we do not have a choice. We had three groups in during that period and they all shot birds but you have to be lucky to get a really big shoot. Paul Warren and his 16 year old son Nathan from Dildo, Newfoundland were one of the groups those three days and they lead the way with 16 geese (we had three groups of two hunters per group, which was different as we average three hunters per group). This was Nathan’s first time shooting geese and his skeet practice paid off as he turned out to be an ace, shooting at least ten of the birds (both he and his dad agreed on that). The hunting weather got better towards the end of October and we ended up averaging six geese per hunter for the month.
While many of our farmers may have cursed the weather in November, it was a blessing for all hunters on the Island. Weather temps did get cooler but were average for that time of year. The big differance was that we started getting windy, cloudy (yes and sometimes really wet) days, making it so much easier to work birds. We had excellent results in November, averaging over 7 geese per hunter and also shot a nice number of ducks as their numbers seem as high as they have ever been.
It has been another successful season for Wild Goose Outfitters and to my knowledge our two main competitors did well also. We all know each other well and have good relationships. We understand that the more good hunting stories come out of our Island, the better it is for everyone and we are all enjoying the fruits of a very healthy Maritime flyway (the Maritime portion of the Atlantic flyway to be precise).
The reason we are successful is because, along with the fact we are the longest operating Canada goose outfitter east of Quebec (1986), we have two of the most experienced hunting guides on the Island in Jerald Peters and Clinton Arsenault (12 and 13 years) along with Josh Lea who joined us the end of October and has 13 years as a professional hunting guide on the Island. We also have an apprentice guide program and can draw on several other registered guides if the need exists. Thank you to these men and also to Gail MacDonald our housekeeper and sous chef who keeps everyone comfortable and well fed at the Lodge.
Please check out our website at huntpei.com and feel free to call us at 1 (855) 770-8777.
Good Hunting!Jim Duggan