CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Hunting Report

Early honker season opener impacted by weather change

BY BILL KARR/WON Staff WriterPublished: Oct 05, 2018

WILTON — The early honker season that opened on Saturday was impacted by a major drop in temperature and overcast on Saturday, much in the way the early dove opener is impacted by any change in the weather. But a lot of heavyweight honkers hit the ground!

A major change in weather and overcast somehow disrupted the internal clock of the local flocks of Canada geese for the Early Honker opener Sept. 29, but even so, some success was found by hunters in the know.


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THE EARLY HONKER opener season on Saturday, Sept. 29, was relatively slow due to a 20-degree drop in temperature and cloud cover, but Mike Downs and a hunting partner on Blackjack Ranch off Dillard Road near Wilton shot three and missed another couple Canadas. Others who patterned the feeding habits did better.


On Saturday, Mike Downs and friend hunted the pond at Blackjack Ranch off Dillard Road, and shot 3 honkers, (missing two others) for a long morning shoot. They saw plenty of flights of honkers heading out early to feed, but not many of them came back to the resting ponds. The day before, and week before, there had been up to 100 honkers on the pond every day.


On the next day, 3 hunters tried the same pond and never had a shot, despite some flights of honkers in the area, Bad decoy spread? I doubt it, they were full bodied flocks honkers. Movement in the blind? Disruption from the opener the day before? Who knows?


The report from guide George Kemmerer of On-the-Fly Guide Service was similar:


“The sudden 20-plus-degree drop in temperatures the day before the goose opener from the high 90s down to the mid 70s, coupled, stiff south-east wind, and high dome of clouds and bay fog that greeted the dawn sky in the Central Valley on opening morning of the early Canada goose season, made for very difficult conditions for many hunters we spoke to, including our guide groups.”


Canada geese never like a sudden weather change. It makes them nervous and disrupts their established feeding patterns. A high cloud dome blocks the glare of the sun and dramatically improves their eyesight to scrutinize goose spreads and spot well-hidden hunters. The two together make for spooky geese on high-alert coupled with conditions of exceptional visibility for their eyes, which are far more acute than our own, stacking the odds against the hunter.


“On-The-Fly Outfitters' undaunted hunting groups rose to the occasion despite these exceptionally challenging conditions,” Kemmereer said. “On-The-Fly's southern group hunting in the north Delta shot 23 of the resident giant Canadas and their northern hunting group near Marysville shot another 35. For most guys, either one would be a very decent hunt, but it was a far cry from On-The-Fly's usual success, such their 2017 success of 80 honkers in 90 minutes for their 10 clients.”


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