Hopes are high for another very strong goose shooting season, with good numbers of migrants expected and numbers of resident geese growing, writes Matt Cross for Shooting Times.
Migratory wildfowl are yet to arrive in the UK in numbers and due to COVID-related disruption, data on their breeding numbers is relatively poor this year. However there are reasons to believe that when the Iceland and Greenland breeding geese arrive they will come in good numbers. In recent years goose numbers in Iceland have grown to the extent that they have become a serious problem for the country’s farmers and this year has seen renewed effort to persuade the Icelandic government to allow out-of-season control of the birds.
The Icelandic Goose hunting season begins in August and peaks in September. Early reports suggest good numbers of geese are being taken and that younger birds are well represented in the bag. Icelandic geese lay and hatch their eggs considerably later than many British birds, with peak hatching in mid-June. This should have allowed them to escape the worst effects of the cold wet weather system which dominated the North Atlantic in the late spring, when British ground nesters were struggling.
Resident and feral geese are also being reported in very encouraging numbers. Over the last few years Orkney has gained a reputation as the country’s premier goose shooting destination and reports from the Islands suggest that numbers are very strong again this year. Orkney Goose guide Steve Rogers told Shooting Times: “Goose numbers are looking high. This means we should be getting good bags. We are looking forward to a great season.”
For many, early season sport is likely to be dominated by Canada geese. These are also being reported in good numbers. Goose shooting fanatic Gary Bruce has been keeping a close eye on flocks on the east coast. Speaking to Shooting Times live from a field of barley stubble Gary said: “There are plenty of geese about. At the moment they are cleaning up the grain on a neighbour’s fields, which is ideal because it means that come the season they will be heading to mine.”