Michigan goose season begins Friday

It’s time to head to Michigan’s lakes, fields and marshes to hunt geese starting tomorrow. The Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that big changes to regulations this year include a dark goose and light goose aggregate bag limit.

Canada geese, white-fronted geese (or specklebellies) and brant are now part of a dark goose aggregate daily bag limit. From Sept. 1-30, the dark goose aggregate daily bag limit for Canada geese, white-fronted geese and brant is five, only one of which can be a brant. After Sept. 30, the daily limit for dark geese is five, only three of which can be Canada geese and only one of which can be a brant.

In simpler terms, hunters can harvest five dark geese per day in September, only one of which can be a brant. All five dark geese harvested could be Canada geese. After Sept. 30, hunters still can harvest five dark geese per day; however, only three of those can be Canada geese, and only one can be a brant. Three Canada geese can be harvested daily after Sept. 30, and the remainder of the aggregate daily bag limit can be filled with two white-fronted geese or a white-fronted goose and a brant.

An aggregate bag limit is also in place for light geese, including snow, blue and Ross’s geese. Hunters may harvest 20 light geese per day during goose seasons.

While at first it may sound confusing, the dark goose aggregate bag limit was put in place to provide more opportunity for goose hunters. While few other goose species besides Canada geese are harvested in Michigan, this regulatory change allows hunters to take these species if they have the good fortune of seeing them. The seasons for all goose species (dark and light) now completely overlap in every hunting zone, making it easier for hunters.

Goose season runs Sept. 1-Dec. 16 in the North Zone. Middle Zone dates are Sept. 1-30 and Oct. 7-Dec. 22. In the South Zone, dates run Sept. 1-30, Oct. 14-Dec. 10, Dec. 30-31 and Jan. 27-Feb.12, 2018.

The areas of the former Saginaw and Tuscola County goose management units now have the same season dates as the South Zone. Designated goose management units in Allegan and Muskegon counties have different dates. Allegan County GMU season dates are Sept. 1-10 and Nov. 11-Feb. 15, 2018. Muskegon County GMU season dates are Oct. 17-Nov. 14 and Dec. 2-19.

Goose hunting in Michigan helps to keep goose populations in check. Michigan regularly ranks in the top three states in the nation for Canada goose hunters and harvest. The plentiful geese provide excellent opportunities for goose hunters.

The DNR encourages hunters, before they head into the field this year, to make time to review the season dates and new regulations. Waterfowl hunting regulations, dates and bag limits can be found in the 2017-2018 Michigan Waterfowl Hunting Digest. Digests are available at DNR Operation Service Centers, wildlife field offices and license agents or on the web at www.michigan.gov/dnrdigests.