September usually starts the itch with early goose season kicking off, where hunters flock to fresh cut fields and water sources for those local geese that have been around all spring and summer. As September rolls on and October kicks in, waterfowlers start thinking teal, wood ducks and mallards. Teal and wood ducks are some of the smallest and first to migrate south for the winter, so while they're screaming around in abundance throughout our wetland areas, we get out there and hunt them while we can.
Mallards are around during this time, as well, and always make for a great time when a flock locks up and cups their wings into the decoy spread. As the early season birds fly out, West Michigan sees a good amount of birds starting their migration south from Canada. As new birds come into the fold, new tactics are laid out and decoy spread change giving different looks to birds as they have started to see multiple spreads from hunters Up North.
Dependent on the weather, our waterfowl season can be a hit or miss in our area. At times the heat is too great where birds don’t migrate early enough, and there are times where it gets cold early and water sources freeze up, making it hard for us to get a good hunt in.
As the regular season comes and goes, time spent in the marsh or fields with good friends is well spent laughing, joking, and sometimes asking did we get up so early.
One thing I like the most about goose and duck hunting is the camaraderie between fellow hunters. Unlike deer hunting, we are able to be loud and crack jokes while watching for birds. Some of the best hunts are those with a glorious sunrise/sunset, being in the peaceful wilderness and talking with friends you haven’t seen in awhile.
Now many people have said to me they don’t like duck or goose meat, and to them I say you just haven’t had it cooked right! My favorite thing to do with the amazing birds we get to harvest is keep the meat until the end of the season to do a great corned duck and goose recipe I got from friend.
Corned Duck and Goose
Step 1: Soak meat in salt water brine to remove blood from meat.
Step 2: Mix 1 cup (per 5 pounds of meat) of Morton Tender Quick Home Meat Cure, 4 cups of water, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 handfull of mixed pickling spices.
Step 3: Place 1 bay leaf in bottom of gallon jar (large mouth works best), then 1/2 of meat; then leaf and other 1/2 of meat. Pour mixture from Step 2 over meat to fill jar.
Step 4: Refrigerate for 1 week and shake or stir each day.
Step 5: After 1 week, rinse the meat, add chopped onions and celery, cover with water in large pot. Bring to boil (a good rolling boil) and boil until done for 3 hours or until tender (should be able to pull meat away from fat in strands easily and push fat off meat with a table knife). Drain and slice meat crosswise. Cabbage and potatoes can be cooked in the stock and served with the corned meat. Five pounds serves about 12-14 people. Can be served hot or cold.
Some think its best in a sandwich with rye bread and mustard with a pickle and cold sauerkraut on the side. Some prefer to just dip the meat in Sandwich Pal horseradish sauce.
Step 6: To store, wrap and refrigerate.
— By Aaron Johnson, print and digital advertising account executive with the Grand Haven Tribune.