How to call ducks and geese.

Goose Hunting Tips and Tactics Leave a comment

Looking geese with constant success is among the hardest challenges in waterfowling. Honkers, the massive geese that weigh 10 kilos or extra, are inherently anti-social birds. They don’t like one another for essentially the most half and are solely touchdown in the identical subject as a result of that’s the place the perfect feed is. Lessers, a smaller sub-species of Canada geese discovered principally within the Central and Pacific flyways, are getting smarter. A decade in the past, you may have gone to Kansas or Oklahoma and killed limits in the event you knew set an enormous unfold of silhouettes and socks. It’s not really easy anymore. However the problem is what makes goose searching enjoyable. 

Positive, some populations of geese are getting exhausting to hunt, but it surely’s nonetheless extremely satisfying when the birds do what they’re speculated to and a hunt comes collectively. We’ve had the great fortune to hunt with and interview a number of the most educated Canada goose hunters in North America. Right here’s a number of the greatest goose searching ideas and techniques we’ve discovered. Plus, the gear you must get within the sport. 

Flocks of geese working the unfold is a rush all waterfowl hunters ought to expertise. Joe Genzel

Goose Looking Fundamentals

Goose searching may be fairly difficult. Oftentimes 10 or extra hunters will work collectively for an enormous shoot with tons of of decoys. However it doesn’t should be this manner. These massive subject shoots are efficient, however it’s also possible to hunt geese solo or with just some buddies. Regardless of how massive or small your goose mission might be, you’ll need to have an excellent deal with on the next abilities and equipment.


Probably the most profitable goose hunters spend extra time scouting than searching. The most straightforward strategy to scout is to drive round probably feeding areas (minimize agricultural fields) within the morning and night. Search for geese in fields and within the air. If you happen to see a flock flying low, headed for a subject, observe them to the feed. If you happen to discover a promising feed, you’ll probably should get permission from the landowner to hunt it. (Learn our information on get searching permission). 

However it’s also possible to hunt geese on public waters. Merely drive or boat round on the lookout for geese in public searching areas. Make sure that to examine your native rules so you recognize which waters are huntable. 

As soon as you discover birds, observe what time you noticed them, how they have been positioned, and the way they entered and exited the world. (Be taught extra about scouting for geese and geese right here).


New waterfowl hunters usually don’t put sufficient effort into concealment. Geese which have skilled searching strain may be extraordinarily cautious. You have to spend critical effort determining an excellent disguise earlier than any profitable goose hunt. That might imply a brushy fenceline, a riverbank of head-high cattails, or a structure blind tucked into the grass. All the time attempt to disguise within the shadows. All the time plan for geese flying 360 levels round you and instantly over you. You have to be hid from each path. 

Decoy Spreads

Geese have eager eyesight and might be drawn to a realistic-looking decoy unfold from tons of of yards away. Realism is vital. It’s higher to hunt with a small unfold that appears actual than with a large unfold that appears like junk in a subject. Decoying in geese is an actual artwork that takes a lifetime to grasp. However there are some floor guidelines. In any unfold you need life like movement. You need to keep away from unnatural glare off your decoys. You need the unfold to be seen from a good way, so the geese have sufficient house to work. You additionally need to give them house to land.  


If studying to decoy geese is an artwork, then calling geese is like studying an instrument. It takes follow and subject expertise to change into proficient. One of the best ways to study is to hunt with an excellent caller and mimic what they do. Working towards earlier than the season is vital, too. Under is a stable video on calling geese for rookies. (And listed here are extra recommendations on calling geese and geese). 

Goose Looking Gear

Some skilled hunters haul a double-axle trailer stuffed with goose decoys and equipment. Others get by with a bag stuffed with silhouette decoys, a name, and a shotgun. The purpose is you could go minimalist or gear intensive and achieve success both manner. All of it is dependent upon your strategy. Right here’s some starter gear to contemplate:

Looking Geese in Fields

All waterfowl hunters ought to have the expertise of an excellent subject hunt. When it really works out correctly, geese are available in low and scorching, cruising down into the decoys earlier than somebody yells “take’em!” and all hell breaks unfastened. Listed below are some key ideas for searching geese in fields.  

Calling Discipline Geese

calling geese
Calling techniques depend upon hen habits. Joe Genzel

Most fashionable hunters use short-reed calls with broke-in intestine techniques. They’re simpler to blow and extra versatile than another fashion name, which is why they’ve change into in style. However simply because you possibly can blow a short-reed properly doesn’t imply you’ll kill geese. You’ve got to have the ability to learn birds and know after they need to be referred to as to and when to remain quiet. 

Name straightforward early. In the course of the early August and September resident goose seasons, watch out to not showcase your complete calling repertoire. Native birds are used to flying the identical routes every morning, so in case you have achieved your scouting and are on the X, name as little as doable to get them to commit. Plus, juvenile birds—geese hatched within the spring—can’t fly very properly. They’ll need to fly from the roost to the feed on a string if they will. And no quantity of calling is prone to pull them off that route. “Keep in mind plenty of early geese are younger and don’t fly far or properly,” says Jordan Keil, a goose information in Hutchinson, Minnesota. “I prefer to make it straightforward on them and me. Simply arrange a small unfold of decoys on a straight line from the roost and allow them to come. I hardly name in any respect. Why present them any of my tips if I don’t should?”

Welcome them in. One of many greatest errors hunters make when ending massive geese within the decoys goes silent. That’s really when you need to be getting on the decision, in line with Molt Gear proprietor and three-time world reside goose calling champ Scott Threinen. Geese on the bottom cluck excitedly when different birds are circling above. “The final 100 yards is when you must name extra aggressively,” Threinen says. “You don’t go quiet. That’s the alternative of what they do.”

Maintain calling easy. If you happen to’re not an amazing caller, mastering the “moan” is the easiest way to kill geese. Elite callers like Keil and Threinen have an in depth catalog of sounds to select from. Most of us should not as expert. Nonetheless, if you can also make totally different variations of the moan—just by pushing air by means of the decision out of your diaphragm—utilizing totally different quantities of again strain, you possibly can herald geese. In truth, probably the greatest meat callers I’ve hunted with, Randy Hill of Ottawa, Ailing., has switched to an old-school tube-style name, and makes use of the same, easy calling methodology. He simply hits birds with clucks and moans. And although his calls sound rather more genuine than mine, I can nonetheless mimic just a few of them on a single-reed to idiot cautious late-season birds.

Decoying Discipline Geese 

goose hunting
Huge subject hunts require teamwork. Adam DeMarchi

Curiosity has killed plenty of geese. So, you must present Canadas totally different spreads all all through the season to pique their curiosity. Maintain issues recent, and also you’ll have extra birds committing to your arrange.

Combine it up. When you’ve got the cash to purchase seven dozen Dave Smith full-bodies or the time to make stuffers (plastic molds with goose skins affixed to them), do it. As a result of realism kills geese. The remainder of us have to make use of each trick there may be to idiot birds. The most effective methods to perform that’s by by no means setting the identical unfold twice in the identical season. Purchase totally different manufacturers of full-body decoys, or goose shells of all sizes, silhouette decoys of various varieties, and all the time change up your unfold. Most of your neighbors are going to have the identical blob of Bigfoots their grandad handed all the way down to them. 

Match your unfold to the dimensions of the feed. If you happen to’re searching a feed, the unfold ought to have not less than 25 % as many decoys to the variety of reside birds within the subject the evening earlier than. Most flocks are seeing different geese on the bottom earlier than they land. “Be sure to place your decoys the place the birds landed the earlier night in the event you’re searching massive honkers,” says Travis Mueller, a long-time Iowa goose killer. “You’ll be able to site visitors lessers, however to kill honkers recurrently, I put a pop can on the bottom the place the birds have been within the subject throughout our scouting.” 

Hunt the swing. Most waterfowl hunters need birds to complete into the wind, and set their decoys such that the birds might be shot in entrance of the blinds. There are a pair points with that. The primary is that good birds are looking out for this setup. One other challenge could possibly be that the wind is blowing from the east or west, which implies the solar could possibly be proper in your face relying on what time of day you might be searching. In each situations birds are trying instantly at hunters on strategy—positively not superb. That may trigger them to flare, no matter whether or not you might be chasing massive honkers or lessers, particularly with giant searching teams. To keep away from this, you must shoot geese “on the swing.” Right here is an instance: Once I was a child my dad’s searching buddies would arrange in standing corn or a hedge row and face into the wind with the decoys about 40 yards behind them. Typically they’d place the decoys barely off their left shoulder, different occasions off their proper, relying on wind path. The geese naturally dropped altitude and started to circle. When the birds hooked over the corn or hedgerow, all of the hunters stood up with their 10 gauges and shot them straight up. 

dog retrieves goose
An excellent retriever will assist you to get better geese within the subject or on water. Joe Genzel

Hiding in Fields

It’s simpler to cover 5 hunters than it’s to cover 10. So although you may even see some outfitters working massive numbers of hunters, I wouldn’t suggest it. You have to disappear right into a hedgerow or change into invisible in the event you’re searching within the decoys. It’s simpler to hunt with smaller crews, particularly while you’re beginning out.

Use the 1 to 10 rule. Threinen first charges the disguise on a sliding scale: 1 is superb; 10 is terrible. He begins with the decoys at 25 yards and for each growing quantity on that scale the blinds get moved 3 yards from the decoys. So if the disguise is a 3, the blinds should be 34 yards from the unfold. There are just a few the explanation why Threinen does this, however the primary one is geese have 360-degree imaginative and prescient. In order that they see much more than you assume. And the nearer you might be to the place they need to land (the unfold), the extra probably birds are to bust you. “We don’t get that technical with our blinds out right here in New Jersey,” says John Partitions, who has additionally received a world goose-calling title. “However I get why he does it. I pile as many minimize cedars or christmas bushes on our A-Frames as I can and inform my buddies to carry nonetheless when geese get shut. Any little motion, they may see it and be gone.”

Cover within the decoys. On sunny days, decoys which can be raised off the bottom will solid shadows to hide hunters. If it’s cloudy, they don’t do pretty much as good of a job, however will not less than hinder the view of geese flying overhead. Tanglefree makes a 20-inch full-body stake that may elevate decoys. You can even dig the blinds into the sphere and place full-bodies on high of milk crates spray-painted black (simply don’t use a excessive gloss end). If you happen to use windsocks, Tanglefree additionally makes a 28-inch Slammer Sock, which is able to present a greater disguise. However you probably will solely be capable of use the socks when searching lessers. Honkers are inclined to draw back from them.

Looking Geese Over Water

Decoying geese right into a water unfold is an underrated tactic. The true profit right here is that in lots of states there’s plenty of accessible public water that’s open to searching. If you happen to’re planning to hunt geese over water, the following pointers will get you began. 

Get’em Coming Again to the Roost

It’s a long-standing no-no to shoot the roost, but it surely’s essentially the most profitable strategy to persistently kill geese over water. The trick is sleeping in. Get to the roost at about 8 a.m., after which await a majority of the birds to fly out to feed. If it’s an early-season resident Canada goose hunt and there are simply 100 birds, let all of them get off the water. With so few birds, you possibly can’t afford to push any off (they most likely received’t come again). When it’s January in Kansas and there are 10,000 lessers, snows, and specks on just a few acres of water, let about 90 % of them depart earlier than you go in and set the decoys.

Go together with a small unfold for small ponds. For large honkers on small ponds, you don’t have to deliver greater than two-dozen floaters and one other dozen subject full-bodies to placed on the financial institution. 

Go massive for large roosts. With giant roosts of lessers, specks, and snows you need to deploy as many decoys as you want to be able to land birds in shotgun vary. After we hunt roosts of 10,000 birds or extra with a big group of hunters, we set between 15- and 40-dozen floaters, plus one other 10-dozen subject decoys, and a truck mattress stuffed with silhouettes. It’s probably going to take extra flocks to shoot limits, so it’s higher to deploy the massive rig since you need to emulate what the later birds coming back from the feed are used to seeing. 

Working Visitors

If you happen to can’t get on the roost, site visitors searching lesser Canada geese on water usually takes a trailer stuffed with decoys. Get all of your buddies (and their decoys) collectively, so you can also make as massive a footprint as doable. Silhouettes are the perfect (and most cost-effective) strategy to make that footprint when added with floaters. Stick them within the shallows and on the banks, and don’t be afraid so as to add snows and specklebellies (they may most likely be blended in). On windy/sunny days, socks are an amazing possibility too. You’ll be able to disguise higher in them as a result of they solid a shadow over the blinds and create extra motion.

Hit them after they feed. You’ll be able to strive searching birds when they’re coming from the roost (on the best way to the feed), however I’ve all the time had extra success when they’re coming back from the feed, significantly when it’s chilly. 

Set your rig after many of the birds have left. It may appear overcautious, however in the event you arrange too early, pressured geese will see your unfold as they arrive off the roost. Once they return to water they’ll see the identical unfold, and are good sufficient to know one thing is off.

Goal Rivers within the Late-Season

canada geese and mallards on a river
Canadas combine with mallards on a small river through the migration. Donald M. Jones

When the primary blast of winter hits and freezes marshes and ponds, geese flock to rivers to roost and loaf, opening miles and miles of alternative to the public-water hunter. That is Cabela’s professional staffer and waterfowl nut Jonathan Lewis’ favourite time to chase honkers on his house turf in New York and Pennsylvania.

A fast aspect observe: Verify native water-access legal guidelines (they are often difficult) as a result of many states will let you hunt from a ship if it may be hid by vegetation, or from shore in the event you keep beneath the conventional water-level line.

Goal gravel bars. Lewis keys in on island gravel bars or factors that create a pool of slow-moving water with sufficient house between shorelines to permit the birds to work. Geese love to make use of these spots to relaxation as they migrate south. Huge rivers draw geese, but additionally search tributaries of main rivers (like Pennsylvania’s Delaware, for instance), that are migration highways for waterfowl. 

Look forward to a entrance. He waits for a robust chilly entrance that may deliver down migrators and prefers to hunt on the tail finish of these winter storms. That’s when the river will refill with recent birds. “Once I discover a spot I like, I scout the climate greater than the birds,” Lewis says.

Set a river unfold. He runs about three dozen floaters within the water, and a mixture of sleeper decoys, full-bodies, and windsocks (as a result of they’re packable) set tightly collectively on the gravel bar and within the shallow water round it. The purpose is to imitate a big flock of resting geese.

Play the wind. Lewis will accept a wind at his again, however a crosswind is even higher. Ideally, he’ll disguise in a structure blind in knee-high cowl on the gravel bar. However he’ll additionally hunt from a ship blind or pure cowl alongside the shore if there’s not sufficient cowl on the bar itself. —Alex Robinson

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Closing Ideas on Goose Looking

goose hunting
A profitable subject hunt is tough to beat. Joe Genzel

These Canada geese loafing in your native park won’t look like elusive sport animals. However wild migrating geese symbolize one of many greatest challenges in waterfowling. They fly for tons of and even hundreds of miles each fall and have survived for many years. They’ve flown over numerous decoy spreads and averted all of them. So in the event you’re going to persistently kill geese, you must hunt good and hunt exhausting. You’ve bought to outsmart the birds and outcompete different hunters. It’s a real problem, however that’s what makes it so rewarding. 

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