The hunt: More than a century ago, settlers drained most of what was then prime waterfowl habitat—some 47,000 hectares of prairie marsh between the city of Winnipeg and Lake Winnipeg to the north. But thanks to the work of the provincial and federal governments, Ducks Unlimited Canada and other conservation groups, 3,500 hectares were restored in the late 1960s and early ’70s, resulting in the Oak Hammock Marsh Wildlife Management Area.
Today, tens—sometimes hundreds—of thousands of geese and ducks stage in the area each fall. While there’s no hunting in the marsh itself, shooting is allowed in the nearby Managed Hunting Area, but only on private land and with written permission. As well, there’s a daily limit of four hunters per quarter-section, and any given hunter can hunt a maximum of six days a year. The upshot of this management? The hunting for Canada, snow and blue geese is nothing short of spectacular.
To get in on the action, set up in grain stubble or emerging green feed with a traditional pit or willow blind, or a modern layout-style blind, and use as many field decoys as possible. The biggest challenge will be competing with the many thousands of living decoys that can easily draw approaching birds away from your set-up. —Ken Bailey
When to go: Goose numbers are usually highest from late September to mid-October.
Guns and load: Your best bet is to go with a 12-gauge stuffed with a head load of BB or #2 shot.
More info: Manitoba Conservation & Water Stewardship, 1-800-214-6497