East Central Outdoors
My favourite time of year is upon us. As I write this, we are about a week away from the opening of waterfowl season.
I am passionate about many things out doors, but goose hunting is definitely at the top of the list for me. I have been hunting waterfowl for over 40 years and every year opening morning is just as exciting as the first one.
In our part of the province we are very lucky to have exceptional waterfowl hunting, with a fairly long season and liberal limits for waterfowl. Whether you are a duck or goose hunter, or both there are opportunities throughout the east central region.
Field hunting for goose is what I spend most of my time doing in the fall. I enjoy all aspects of waterfowling, spotting, selecting a spot for the blind and setting up all the decoys, flagging, calling, and of course eating geese.
There are many kinds of decoys, calls and blinds out there. I have my preferences and over the years have tried many varieties of all of them.
I have used bale blinds, hayhouse blinds, wingshooter blinds, laydown blinds and a few years ago after purchasing a trailer, went back to a willow blind.
Our area has many pocket bushes and a willow blind is one of the most natural blinds for our area. I have used them in wheat/barley stubble, green feed and pea fields.
A couple of downsides for me when using the older style willow blind was securing them and hauling all the chairs etc. for hunters to sit on. I decided to make a custom willow blind, so mine has a built in padded bench seat, a tray for coffee/shells/remote, binos etc., and brackets for holding shotguns while waiting for birds.
I used the laydown style for a few years, but found them uncomfortable, with poor visibility for birds approaching off to the side or back, awkward to shoot out of, and for me they did not offer a shot at birds that happened to pass behind the blind. The new blind remedied all of these. The blind is six feet wide, with lots of room for three adults, and I have also made two “extensions” one for each side of the blind so we can easily accommodate five hunters.
Before I had the trailer, portability and room were a big consideration for me so I decided to try a few styles of the silhouette (silos) decoys. The quality and durability of these decoys have improved a lot over the past few years.
I have tried the Real Geese II, Dive Bomb, Big Flock and Big AL’s decoys. I still have a couple dozen Dive Bomb decoys but most of the decoys (six dozen) I use now are Big AL’s. They are light, pack easily, have a little movement and most important they bring in the birds. When using silos, I space them farther apart than a shell or full body, leaving about eight to 10 feet between decoys and face them in all directions regardless of wind direction.
Most goose calls will help to bring in birds when blown correctly. It can take a bit of practice to get that sort of “deep goosey” sound out of a call.
Blow your call with air from the gut, not the mouth and vary sounds with the fingers you cup over the end of the call.
To get that deep “cluck” sound you hear so often from geese say “two whit” into the call. Resist the temptation to call too much, call when the birds are far off, flying by or don’t seem interested. When the birds turn and start heading in, I usually stop calling, but watch closely and if they start to turn away I start calling again.
My experience has been that wood, delrin and acrylic calls have the best sound, but more importantly I have found them much easier to get good sound out of. I now use mostly Lynch Mob and GK calls, each has a bit of a different sound, and I will use them all when hunting to change things up a bit.
When setting up for geese I always try and pinpoint as close as possible to the location they were last feeding in.
Sometimes being close to the spot will work but being right on the spot is usually more successful.
At first season they will be in family groups, with small five to eight bird groups set up in the same general area, but not really all together like later in the season.
Regardless of season try and duplicate the best you can what you observed while spotting.
Geese will always land into the wind so take this into account when setting up your decoys and blind. If there is a depression in the field, even a small one, try and set your blind (if the wind allows) in this depression with the decoys on the high ground. If a small depression is not in the location I need I will often set the blind off to one side so the geese are not looking directly at the blind, which is usually only required later in the season when birds can become a bit decoy shy.
Most all of my setups with the exception of early season are set in a sort of V or U shape. I do vary this but for the most part this setup works well.
I have used many kinds of shot shells over the years and have settled on SCORE or KENT 3”-BB’s for all my goose hunting.
When selecting a shotgun you can’t go wrong with one of the three, B’s Browning, Beretta or Benelli. I currently hunt with a Browning Maxus, A5 or a Benelli Super Nova. I have no affiliation to any of the gun, blind, decoy, ammo or call companies I have mentioned nor am I suggesting that they are necessarily the best out there. They have just worked well for me.
Have a great season and remember to take a kid hunting!