Location Can Determine Honker Success
It was not much to look at. The 20 acre field of small grain was tiny compared to some of the other potential hunting spots in the region. According to the landowner, the geese had pretty much been ignoring it, favoring the larger fields instead.
Still, I was totally thrilled to get permission to hunt this field. It had a couple of critically important attributes that would make this spot a sure thing on opening day of the early goose season. This field, as small as it was, had tremendous potential.
The first thing this field had going for it was visibility. The rolling structure of the field had a knoll that offered a view of the entire area. By placing a spread on this gentle rise, we would have a vantage point that would allow us to see birds in the distance and vice versa.
Over the years of hunting, I have learned the importance of good visibility. Having a
spread in a location that geese can see from a great distance is really important. Flocks of honkers can be pulled in from far away with flagging and proper calling. If the birds can’t see you, hunting is going to be tough.
On the flip side of this, you need to see the birds. With visual eye contact, you can read exactly what they are doing. If they are sliding in your direction, do enough flagging and calling to keep them coming. If they start slipping away, get more aggressive.
On some occasions, I have set up in fields that did not have great visibility. One field I recall had trees growing on three sides. Although the field was secluded and appealing, there was little hope of attracting traffic geese that were flying through the area. They simply could not see us.
The second really positive aspect of the small grain field we had chosen for our opening day hunt was the lack of natural obstructions around the field. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is.
Geese learn to avoid tree rows, brushy fence lines and standing corn because these areas can conceal hunters. It doesn’t take them long to figure out that they get shot at every time they fly over some form of cover.
Areas that are great for hunter concealment are extremely negative to birds and form a distinct barrier. If they do have to cross areas of cover, they often fly so high there is little chance of getting them to decoy.
Choosing the correct field and the best location within that field to hunt comes with experience. Unfortunately, experience is usually gathered through poor decision making and failed hunts.
There is no doubt that setting up in a field the geese are using on a regular basis is ideal and obviously my first choice. However, when those options are not available, finding a place that allows for visibility with no obstructions becomes critical.
I know that over half of the birds we shoot each season are traffic birds that happen to be flying through an area looking for a place to feed. Our success in harvesting traffic birds comes from picking the right spot to hunt.
Knowing how to identify a good field and then finding the best location within that field for setting the spread is an important part of hunting Canada geese.