The Canada geese are all over the place here in Colorado, and I can’t wait to get out to hunt them. The season has been open for a few weeks, but will remain open until mid-February, so I have some time to fit in a few hunts around the deer and pheasant hunting I have planned. I love hunting geese and ducks too, even though it can be very challenging and physically demanding. Hunting on public land you often have to work hard to find a productive area to hunt, but the challenge is what it’s all about. I wrote a very informative article about goose hunting which you can read by clicking here. Tonight I want to give some more tips about goose hunting.
Decoys are a critical part of goose hunting, and figuring out how to deploy them can be confusing, especially for beginners. I use two kinds of decoys; the shell bodies, and flag decoys, which are really just pieces of soft plastic set on stakes that flutter in the wind and attract geese. The main thing to consider when setting your decoys is where you want the geese to land; you want the geese to land in a spot where you will have a good shot at them. I like to put out a “U” shaped spread, leaving a landing area within range of my shot. Within the “U” shape I will put a few sentinels and feeders, but I leave space for the geese to land. It is important to not clump all of your decoys too close together. I believe that motion in a decoy spread is crucial, and if you are hunting over water, full-body floating decoys are essential.
I recommend having two types of calls; first a short-reed acrylic call that makes loud, sharp, high-pitched sounds that can reach out farther distances and on windy days. Once I get their attention, I use a wooden call that produces softer, more realistic sounds as the geese get closer. It is important to have the ability to create realistic sounds for both long-range and close up situations. Once the geese are getting close, I don’t call much, if at all, especially if they have their wings in the landing position.
Geese have incredible eye site, and if you can see them, they can see you even better. Therefore your camouflage is very important, including your hands and your face. I either use a camo face net or camo paint. You would be surprised how much a human face sticks out in a wilderness setting. For clothing I have a few basic camo patterns that I use for different types of hunting, including cornfield camo, fall woods camo, and snow camo. I also use a Mossberg 535 camo shotgun that prevents sun glare from any shiny parts of a shotgun. There are camo sleeves or tape that you can use on your gun as well, and they won’t mess up the finish of your gun.
Your behavior in the blind is equally as important as your camo, the geese will notice movement from a long ways away. It is critical that you remain absolutely still as the geese approach, and not move at all until the birds are within range. This applies to your dog as well if you use one, and it is an amazing thing to watch a well trained dog sit perfectly still in a goose blind as the birds approach.
Pay attention to the wind when you are setting up your decoy spread and shooting blind. Geese will avoid the wind when they are on the ground if at all possible. If you are hunting in a field, look for dips in the land that may provide a wind break. If there are trees lining a field, the geese will likely be on the lee side of those trees, meaning the opposite direction that the wind is blowing. For example, if there is a tree line going east and west, and the wind is coming from the north, the geese will be on the south side of that tree line.
The temperature will affect geese behavior when they are on the ground, and this is very important to know when setting your decoy spread. If the air temperature is 20 degrees or lower, the geese will lie down to conserve body heat. If your decoy spread is all standing geese in cold weather, it will not look realistic to the geese. In these situations I will put out a couple of standing geese and kick up the snow until I get dirt to mimic feeding geese, but most of my decoys will be sitting shells.
I will have more goose hunting tips in future articles, but these techniques will get you more honkers in your oven and on the table, maybe in time for Christmas!