According to wildlife experts, South Dakota’s resident Canada goose population is at an all-time high.
In many parts of eastern South Dakota, geese are damaging crops. In an attempt to bring the population more in line with management objectives, the state Game, Fish and Parks Department is working with sportsmen to increase the goose harvest, but to do that requires more sportsmen in the field.
GFP, in partnership with Cabela’s, devised a unique promotional contest to encourage more early season goose hunting by enticing veteran waterfowlers to take someone new to the goose fields.
“The (Re)Introduce someone to Waterfowling Contest” came about during a meeting when some of our staff talked about increasing the early fall harvest of geese,” said Scott Simpson, GFP information and education section chief. “Waterfowling can be a difficult sport to get started in. There is a definite learning curve, so we decided that if we could reward experienced waterfowlers to take someone who has never hunted geese or hasn’t hunted them for a while we could increase the goose harvest and maybe get some new people to take up the sport.”
Those who took new hunters out for geese in August and September were eligible to enter simply by emailing their names and photos of the outing to GFP. Veteran hunters could enter every time they took new hunters to the field. The contest was publicized through social media and in information sheets sent to sporting goods stores, gas stations and local game processing facilities.
“We really weren’t sure how popular this would be,” Simpson said. “We wanted to give away some quality prizes, so we started with a Benelli Vinci shotgun, a dozen Greenhead Gear Goose shells and a dozen Dakota Decoy full-body decoys. Cabelas heard about our contest and they generously donated two layout blinds.”
Contest winners are as follows:
- Eric Hamiel, Groton – Benelli Vinci 12-gauge shotgun
- Steve Reppe, Crocker – a dozen Dakota Decoy full- body decoys
- Waino Dahlman, Watertown – dozen Greenhead Gear goose shell decoys
- Ben Stukel, Gregory – Cabela’s Lightning Hunter layout blind
- Cameron Lehner, Waverly, Minnesota/Northern State – Cabela’s Lightning Hunter layout blind
“The promotion was well-received and fit in perfectly with our social media,” said Simpson. “This contest is something we will definitely look at for next year. We received good feedback from not only contest participants, but from hunters who knew about it and think it will help with the future of waterfowling in South Dakota.”
Image courtesy South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks