As many goose populations across the northern Hemisphere continue to rise, the role of hunters to manage these populations is increasingly being considered. We studied recreational goose hunters in Denmark to assess their behavioural and motivational characteristics, willingness to alter their hunting effort, as well as their ability to act as stewards of a rapidly increasing goose population. We identified several behavioural characteristics that typify effective goose hunting practices. We suggest a degree of specialization is necessary to increase goose harvests, as well as mitigating animal welfare issues (e.g. wounding). However, the majority of Danish goose hunters can be considered to be casual participants in this form of hunting. This poses a challenge for wildlife managers wishing to engage recreational hunters to manage highly dynamic wildlife populations, such as geese. If recreational hunters are to be used as a management tool, wildlife managers and hunting organizations will need to consider how best to facilitate skill development, hunting practices and socially legitimate hunting ethics to foster the stewardship role of hunting. We conclude that it is incumbent on wildlife managers to recognize and deal with both internal factors (e.g. skill development) and external influences (e.g. animal welfare concerns). In doing so, potential tensions in the multi-functionality of hunting can be alleviated, maintain hunting as a legitimate and accepted recreational past-time and management tool.