I was a little dismayed when I was told by my brother that he would be bringing three other hunters with him for our annual goose hunting adventure. By early November, the Canada geese we would be targeting would be extremely savvy as they had pretty much seen it all by this time of the season.
Hunting smart geese is difficult with a small group of hunters. Put five people in a field and the task of pulling birds into gun range becomes all the more challenging. As someone once told me, geese see all evil. I have come to believe that statement. It is even truer when there is a lot of evil to be seen!
Our first day of hunting found us in a chisel plowed corn field that was under a good flyway. Although there was limited feeding happening in this field, the overall activity level was high. I knew there would be lots of geese in the air to scrutinize our spread of a dozen dozen decoys.
Instead of layout blinds, I had the entire group in ghillie suits and low profile layout boards. With the help of a rake, we gathered together as much corn fodder as we could. This was placed around our blind and then thrown on top of the ghillie suits as we laid down.
It helped, but we still stuck out.
Although there was an abundance of geese flying overhead, there was not a lot of solid decoying taking place. Even though we pulled down a few birds that passed above us, the frustration started to show among the ranks.
I assured them that we aren’t going to decoy every flock. Eventually, some birds would love the spread and come right in. My words were barely out of my mouth when a group of six did just that.
It was after considerable scouting that we finally found a location to get excited about. The field we discovered had been chopped but not yet plowed. The corn debris was everywhere and the opportunity to hide effectively was prevalent.
The next morning, the number of geese we saw was about the same as it had been on other days. However, we blended in perfectly and the wary birds had no clue we were there. Instead of flaring at a hundred yards, nearly every group finished.
Later on when we were discussing the different attitude the birds had in this field, I was able to explain that it was all about the concealment. Because we blended in so well with the corn stubble and excess debris, the unsuspecting geese did not see the danger.
I have seen this same phenomena over and over again. Canada geese may learn to identify decoy spreads quite readily, but if they can’t see any danger from geometric layout blinds or shadows from over elevated hunters, they lose their fear of the decoys.
Calling and flagging is still important, but I like to keep it to a minimum with the aggressive tactics done only when the geese are at some distance. Once the birds are on the deck and committed, I insist that only one or two people cluck and moan the birds to coax them all the way in.
Geese are smart critters with great memories. They quickly learn the perils associated with decoy spreads. In order to consistently harvest these birds in the late season, concealment needs to be a major concern.
If you can hide from those prying eyes, you will be successful!