Hunting Those Unpredictable Geese
Canada geese are a fickle lot. They are undependable and unpredictable. Just when you think you can count on them to make your day, they throw you a curve and have the last honk.
It seemed like a sure thing as the Canada goose season crept ever closer. The small grain field we had lined up for hunting opening day had been hit every morning for two weeks straight. The number of geese in the field had been climbing steadily.
And then, a few days before the opener, they all disappeared. I mean gone and not just from our chosen field. The whole area became void of activity.
I put on hundreds of miles searching for these geese but only found a few scattered birds. It looked pretty bleak for opening day.
However, this is Canada geese we are talking about. You just never know what they are going to do. Because of this we went ahead with our plans for hunting the wheat field. Our expectations were low, but if you don’t go, I guarantee you will get nothing.
The birds were scarce as had been predicted. But just like that, a dozen came straight in. They were followed by a pair and then another pair. In the end, it turned out to be a spectacular morning.
Goose hunting is often like this for me. These unpredictable birds can show up out of the blue or disappear just as fast.
One day last season, we hunted a field that had been full of geese the night before. We went to bed with visions of big flocks descending upon us. Nothing even came close to us the next morning.
On another outing, we set up in a field that had some daytime roost ponds nearby. Although no geese had been feeding in the area, we were counting on the traffic birds to give us a look. A couple of small flocks found our decoys and gave us perfect targets.
Typically, I don’t have a lot of opportunities to hunt fields that are major feeding grounds for Canada geese. Ninety percent of the birds I shoot each fall are traffic birds. If you play your cards right, this style of hunting can be productive.
However, we are back to where we started. Canada geese are unpredictable but even to get a chance at these unpredictable birds I have some basic rules I always follow.
Concealment is the most important aspect of goose hunting. Since we have made the move to Ghillie suits, our success has gone up. If you use layout blinds, cover them well.
Keep your calling to a minimum. Do just enough to get the attention of the birds. Once they are coming your way, subtle moans and clucks will usually get them to finish. Let your decoys do their job.
Flagging distant birds is critical. Geese respond well to movement. When birds are close or coming straight at you, back off on the flagging.
Keep your decoys in great shape. Paint them or replace them as they get beat up.
Spread your decoys out. Relaxed birds like their space. Nervous birds bunch together. I use family groupings all year long.
Canada geese are challenging birds that in turn create a challenging sport. Not every day is going to be a great day. However, when you do get these fickle creatures into gun range, it is a very rewarding experience.