The low honk of a goose and the drawn-out whine of a gander could be heard in the distance. The sky was beginning to get pink and out of the south west we could see the silhouettes of forming skeins of Canadas as they rose from their watery roosts and headed inland for some free, early morning groceries. Hunters blew their short reed “Blackfoots” as the first family groups locked to the song and began their long approach. There was a slight feeling of worry, as our set up was in a low cut, freshly harvested wheat field. It was where the geese wanted to be but with stubble just a few inches high, we were sure to stick out like sore thumbs! As the first group wavered off line, some rapid clucking re-gained their attention and directed them as an air traffic controller would guide in a jet. The call volumes lessened and lonesome moans were added to the positioning clucks as landing gear dropped and wings set. At the words Take Em’, shotguns barked and seven big Canadas lay in the decoys. The low profile Stealth blinds had worked and a full limit of 25 Canadas were harvested over the next hour as they committed without hesitation. This is a scenario repeated by veteran goose hunters every season. The following is the 6-step system that will help you share in the same type of success.
1. Be where the geese want to be!
There is no substitute for being in the right place at the right time. This means road work on your part. Smart hunters use farmers and other individuals who work the land to do some of the leg work for them. Most farmers know exactly what fields the Canadas are hitting and with increasing goose populations are more than happy to direct you to them. Ask the important questions: “What is the direction of approach?” , “What time are they coming to feed?” and “How many geese are using the field?”. Once you know Where, familiarize yourself with the field. Look for contour changes and hummocks that might help you hide. Remember, things look different in the dark and setting up perfectly will play a big part in your success. If it’s possible, watch the geese come in the day before your hunt. Pay attention to flock size as well as time of arrival. Early season geese generally hit the field right at daylight while late season Canadas may not arrive until 11:00 am.
2. Use realistic decoys!
There are a myriad of decoys on the market and some look better than others. A simple rule to follow is: If the decoys don’t look natural to you, than they probably won’t look good to the geese either. Full body, 3-dimensional dekes such as Bigfoots or Flambeau Persuaders are hard to beat. These decoys are nearly exact representations of a Canada goose. They are slightly larger in size but that leads to eye appeal over greater distances.
If weight or transportation problems are an issue, smart hunters will opt for silhouette decoys. Real Geese invented by Darrell Wise are light weight, look like geese and are very mobile. At only a few pounds per dozen, hunters can physically carry all they need to dupe incoming flocks. Through years of field testing, silhouettes are the clear winner when it comes to getting the attention of geese at great distances and their high profiles can help hide hunters who choose to lay out among the decoys. Keeping decoys clean after hunting in muddy fields is a job but dirty decoys don’t work. Keep them clean and shoot more geese.
Mobility and the ability to hide are critical to goose hunting success. Box blinds and Pit blinds can be effective but if circumstances aren’t perfect, they could spoil the hunt. The geese of today are highly affected by food and ecological changes along their migration routes. It has become increasingly difficult to predict exactly what fields they will use year after year. Layout blinds allow the hunter to be mobile and hunt wherever geese are found. Blinds such as the Stealth blind by Chrono Mfg. are lightweight, easily transported, blend in with natural surroundings and allow the sportsman to hunt without altering farmer’s fields. Sloping angles allow these one man blinds to blend in, and when vegetation is added to the grassing straps, they become virtually invisible. Smart hunters will use high profile silhouettes around layout blinds to further hide them from incoming geese. When these are used properly, it’s not uncommon for geese to touch down within the decoys.
Motion in the Rig!
When geese hear calling and see decoys, they should be attracted. If hunters can add motion in the rig, its almost a sure bet that geese will commit. Two motion attractors that have proven their worth over the years are the Mirage decoy by G&H Decoys and the T-Flag made by Randy Bartz.
To impart motion in a goose hunters rig, G & H has taken one of their magnum shell decoys and mounted it on a spring loaded stake. With the slightest breath of wind, these shell decoys waddle and come to life as if they are real geese. One Mirage decoy within each family group of decoys will bring the whole spread to life.
Hunters who have seen Canadas commit to the flags, would never be caught dead in a goose field without them. Randy Bartz (The Flagman) has long known the benefits of flagging for geese. At distances of a mile or more, it is nearly impossible for geese to discern decoys. When flags are employed, geese move closer thinking that other geese are already landing in a field. As they move closer, they begin to hear calling and eventually see the waiting decoys. Once Canadas lock on, gunners should land the flags as though a group of geese just set in. If geese pass by, flag them on the corners as they bend around for a second pass. Motion is a key and more geese will toll whenever the rig comes alive.
Productive Goose Calls & Calling!
Goose calling instruments have changed over the years and in my opinion gotten progressively better. I say instrument, because to mastery of goose language and their vocalizations takes a call that can reproduce the actual sounds. Today’s short-reed calls are easy to blow, can produce a wide range of goose vocalizations and are extremely fast. Fast calling can be important when trying to achieve the flock sound with a limited number of callers. Haydel’s Blackfoot goose call is a perfect example of what is needed in a short reed call.
Team calling can be deadly on incoming Canada geese. This requires call proficiency within your hunting team. It has been said that more geese are killed each year to rapid clucking than to any other goose sound. With one member of the hunting team clucking, others can be applying the lonesome moan of a gander while others are providing ground talk. This mix of sounds will add necessary realism to the rig. It is also advantageous to use goose calls that have different pitches. different geese have different voices and so should hunters. Short-reed goose calls will provide flexibility and realism.
Manage Your Hunting Spots!
Time after time I see hunters hit the same goose field in pursuit of Canadas. Get out and scout for additional areas! Geese will only take so much pressure and then they will leave. By bouncing between different fields, it gives geese a chance to rest and become accustomed to feeding in certain fields. Once geese are comfortable, hit the field for a spectacular shoot and then get out as quickly as you can. We call this the “Hit and Run”. Once a limit has been harvested, its all hands on deck as we get out of the field. By leaving quickly, other geese will come in to feed that have never seen the decoys or heard our calling. This will help settle the field down and allow you to hunt it again in the near future. Burn the same field all day, and it’s quite possible that the geese will never return. While you are scouting for additional fields to hunt, don’t forget the opportunity that exists on water. Each year I am amazed at how many geese go un-hunted in small and large bodies of water. With some slight modifications to the above techniques, hunters can take advantage of these geese as well.
Resident goose populations are on the rise and limits are relaxing on migratory flocks. Canada goose hunting is once again becoming a viable waterfowl opportunity. Waterfowlers should take advantage of these tactics to expand their goose hunting opportunities. Keep an open mind while hunting, you never know when someone will share a golden nugget of goose hunting information with you. It may be a technique that can be added to these 6-steps to goose hunting success!
For more information on the products listed above:
P.O. Box 1208
|For all types of waterfowl calls:
|Clinton Decoy Co.
P.O. Box 3093
Clinton, Iowa 52732
|For Real Geese Silhouettes:
LSP Webfoot Inc.
3177 U.S. Rt 20
Fremont, OH 43420
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