Leon Archer

The Sportsman’s World: August 25, 2012

Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

Well, it’s happened. We’ve worked and played our way through another summer and fall is just over the horizon.

New licenses are available and it’s time to get them and apply for our deer management permits. Goose season starts next week and don’t forget to get your new duck stamp. You can hunt in September on last year’s license, but not the old duck stamp.

Hunters new to goose hunting may wonder after cooking and eating their first goose, if they should bother to continue to hunt these birds. They can range from tasty and tender to tough and sort of gamey.

I have found that birds of the year are almost always good on the table, but the adults are a mixed bag. Even a prehistoric velociraptor might have had a difficult time ripping and chewing up an old goose.

Many people, even veteran waterfowlers, are often unaware of just how long geese can live. The average life span of Canada geese is between 10 to 25 years; although, some tagged wild geese have been known to live longer than 30 years, and some captive pairs have lived for nearly 45 years.

Probably the average age of geese depends to a large extent on the amount of hunting pressure they receive, and lighter hunting pressure would insure more geese reaching senility.

So the hunter who happens to bag a goose that has raised 20 families of goslings, is going to find it just a tad less than tender.

The average adult Canada goose weighs around 10 pounds with young birds somewhat less, but don’t figure you’ve got a young tender bird just because it is smaller than the others, especially later in the season when the northern migrants start arriving. There are 11 subspecies of Canada geese, a number of which we will probably never see in New York State, but our geese can still range in weight from 3 up to 23 pounds.

Our early season resident geese are a lot more homogeneous species wise, so the odds are good that a small goose will be young of the year, especially if it has a shorter neck than bigger birds. These young birds will be tender if they are not over cooked.

When one stops to consider the factors that will toughen up a goose breast, other than age alone, it’s a wonder that they don’t all have to be run through a meat grinder.

They daily have to lift an average of 11 pounds off the ground or water and fly miles to feeding areas. Some fly hundreds, even a thousand or more miles in migration, and they may reach heights over 9000 feet. The main purpose of that big breast is to provide the power for their great wings. If we exercised our arms like they do their wings, we would have muscles like stone too.

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