Hardcore Waterfowlers Might Struggle in These Areas
Here we go with the waterfowling negativity again. Let me offer a standard disclaimer: This informal litany is not intended to disparage the hunters or waterfowling opportunities of any state mentioned. Instead, it merely points out that some states are better than others for goose hunting. Data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2016 harvest estimates backs that up.
And in that spirit, let's look at a subjective list of the country's worst seven states for goose hunting.
Whoa. Let's kick this off with some controversy. Folks will quickly point out that Alabama goose hunters shot about 6,200 honkers in 2016, which is more than many states. However, the state's 3,200-some active goose hunters only averaged a paltry 1.9 birds per person.
Honestly, this spot was between Alabama and Rhode Island, where hunters only took about 3,500 geese in 2016. Still, Rhode Island's tiny size and far better goose-per-hunter average of 6.3 kept it off the list. Sorry, Alabama.
Photo ¬© Bill Konway
Yep, now we're going to pick on a small state. New Hampshire probably offers some pretty good goose hunting at times, but its 2016 harvest of about 4,746 honkers sealed its fate. Further, hunters there only averaged about 4.0 geese per person. Meanwhile, in nearby Vermont, hunters shot about 8,804 Canada geese and averaged 4.3 birds per hunter.
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I'm not expecting any Christmas cards from West Virginia, as it seems to make every worst-of waterfowling list I compile. That's nothing against this gorgeous state. Its beautiful hills and hollows simply don't constitute good goose country. For the record, hunters there took about 3,912 honkers in 2016 but at least achieved a respectable 4.3 bird-per-person average.
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The Silver State actually has a pretty good reputation for duck huntingbut that doesn't extend to geese. In 2016, state hunters took about 4,159 honkers, 221 snows and 44 white-fronts, for a total of about 4,400 geese and a 2.7 goose-per-person average. The message is clear: Come for ducks and big game, and visit Hoover Dam, but don't hang around for the goose shooting.
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It's no surprise the Sunshine State ranks high on this list. It's simply too far south to attract and hold many wintering geese. Hunters there shot about 3,378 snows in 2016 for a 2.6 goose-per-person average. Actually, Florida would have walked away with the title in 2015, when hunters shot only 841 Canada geese for a .7 bird-per-hunter average. Maybe things are looking up.
Photo ¬© Bill Konway
As you might expect, the arid, big-game-rich Southwest doesn't do it for geese. As such, Arizona hunters struggled to take about 1,823 honkers, 911 snows and 684 Ross's geese in 2016, for a total of about 3,400 birds. Hunters average just 1.5 geese per person. Again, we can't hold those numbers against Arizona. And to be fair, its goose harvest topped the No. 1 state on the list.
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Yep, here we go picking on a very un-goose-friendly state in a goose contest. There's no hate; just numbers. In 2016, New Mexico hunters took about 1,734 Canadas, 228 snows and 137 Ross's geese for a total of about 2,100 birds. Hunters averaged a measly 1.2 geese per person. If it makes Land of Enchantment hunters feel better, they have a wealth of big game and game birds to pursue. Also, West Virginia goose hunters are grateful to you for keeping them out of the top spot.
Photo ¬© Tom Reichner/Shutterstock