Swan Lake

drakenuts

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They cut the big agricultural fields out that maybe supplied them with an unlimited amount of corn to feed the geese. The guys running the place were hunters and not worried about turning a profit on the corn crop. The pictures out there prove this to a degree. It is my understanding that the agricultural crop was taken out of the 5-year plans about the time the geese severely declined from the refuge. I don't think this is the only reason, heck, it may not even be a reason, but it is not hard to connect dots using the pictures and looking at agricultural change on the dry ground in the refuge. Most of that refuge or a very large chunk is dry ground that used to be in agricultural fields in the heyday. You can't hardly find an agricultural field on it now, where corn is grown and used to feed and eventually band geese. Maybe I'm off but I'm looking at historical photos and the ag practices, what is in the photos and in the dry fields no longer exists there.
 

oldfireguy

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Hunted Swan in 1980's.
Buddy and I pulled to shoulder one afternoon as we headed home.
East horizon to west horizon.....flock after flock of geese.
Sat there 10 minutes, watching continuous flocks.
What a memory.
 

riverrat47

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Beaucoup goose population in Chicago and the surrounding counties. The cooling lakes are also magnets.
Yes, public parks and golf courses are also overrun, especially if the ponds have any kind of fountain to keep the water open, although the geese can keep the water open. Even if there isn't much open water, as long as they can find food, they'll stick around.
Rick Perry, working with another guy, had a call-Par 4, because they were hitting golf courses. Bill, I'll call and tell you my suggestion for a golf course video.
 

thebiggrfigr

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So ill here...When the farmers in the central and northern part of Illinois started no till practices combined with more milder winters it has been a recipe for less geese. The decline started in the 90s and today Crab and Union Co hold just a mere fraction of the geese we used to. I can remember killing a goose for every Thanksgiving and seeing geese everyday from NOV to Feb, not the case anymore.
 

Sunklands

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Where to though? Do you mean they just keep staying more and more north or it’s like actually shifted to the west? Cause I know in the central flyway you can have a bang up goose shoot as far south as the Texas panhandle.
Those are different race of Canada geese, than the ones that frequented SIL, SEMO and WKY.
 

Truman

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I remember when they would shut down the season when 10K geese where harvested as well as checkpoints on the roads to get out of the area. B&G at the Honey Hole was a treat...is that house still standing?
 

riverrat47

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The guy who mentored me when I first moved to this area hunted Swan Lake, often. He and a couple of other guys had a remodeled school bus somewhere around Swan. He was a local farmer and one year he didn't get his crops out till the following spring because the geese were flying and he just didn't have time to come back to pick! By the time I met him, his wife had put her foot down and he'd gotten out of the Swan Lake deal, that was 1987.
He was such a dedicated hunter that he eventually lost almost everything. Finally, he had to take a real job and started moving around the country to get promotions. Sadly, he only had one season after he was able to retire before cancer took him.
 

Old Critter

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I recall hunting Swan back in the early 60’s. Back then the Canada population ballooned up to 180,000 birds. Fountain Grove held a mitt-full too. For some years the kill quota for the zone was as many as 25,000 birds before it was shut off. The Kansas City Star would post the bird count every week and how many had been killed so far.

You could rent the public pits and blinds by way of a reservation or stand in the poor line. Shell decoys rented for $1/dozen. All birds had to be checked it. A biologist would weigh, sex and age each bird.

if you struck out on the public hunting you could always go close to headquarters and rent a private pit across the road or on the land now owned by Habitat Flats. Everybody shot Model 12 heavy duck guns.

if you shot a bird or two you could have them cleaned at a commercial facility along the county highway heading back to Sumner. Right next door was the Honey House which was a converted farmhouse set up for good meals. There was always a jug of honey on each table for the biscuits you’d order. We’d eat a big breakfast while we waited for our birds to be cleaned. Looking back, that was sixty years ago. Good times.
 

wakenda

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It's not just swan lake that has lost its Canada goose population. South east Colorado has two buttes reservoir was a Canadian goose hot spot at one time.
 

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