Goose Hunting with the Flow

Jerry Carlson
Jerry Carlson

I have been an avid Canada goose hunter for more than 25 years. During this time, I am amazed at the changes that have occurred in the goose hunting world. Today’s tactics and strategies are far different from the basic game plan of my early goose hunting career.

If a person is going to consistently harvest geese in today’s world of sophisticated honkers, they have to go with the flow. Being able to switch gears and figure out new strategies is an absolute must!

One of the first changes in my strategies is to move away from the layout blind. I have found that educated geese are very leery about the rectangular profile of a layout blind. Frequently, geese will make a pass overhead to look directly down into the spread before committing. Even well concealed layout blinds are hard to hide when viewed from directly above.

I am not saying I don’t ever use layout blinds as they are more comfortable than boards and still are useful concealment tools. When hunting alfalfa, layout blinds will settle into the greenery and do an excellent job of hiding the hunters. They also keep some of the mosquitoes at bay.

I have discovered that by incorporating a layout board and ghillie suit, I can give the birds less of a geometric look. This seems to help in getting the birds to finish and not flair at a hundred yards. Many times, we will place a big shell decoy over our legs to help break up our outline.

The ghillie suit is also very versatile when it comes to moving locations. On one hunt last season, we found the geese would make a swing at a hundred yards and only cut the corner of our spread.

I quickly ran out and plopped myself down right in the dirt of the chisel plowed field. The next group of geese that cut the corner were well within range.

At times, going with the flow has forced us into using fencerows for concealment. By watching the geese work a particular field, we learned they had no fear of a patch of brush and weeds along a stretch of fence. The next morning, we took advantage of that and made them pay.

There was a time when I always placed my spread on the top of a knoll. I loved the visibility associated with the high ground. Not only could I see the birds coming from a great distance, they could also see my decoys.

However, I learned the hard way that sticking out on top of the knoll made it easy for the geese to see our profile as they approached. By relocating into a dip on the far side of the knoll with the exact same spread, we had no trouble getting the birds to finish.

Goose hunting is a different game than it used to be. Birds that have such tiny brains seem to have developed quite a memory for the bad things that have materialized from decoy spreads. If what you are doing is not working, something needs to be changed.

By listening to what the birds are telling you and by experimenting with your set-up and concealment, positive adjustments can be made. You need to go with the flow of the moment to make it happen.

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