February 13, 2013
By Joe Genzel
Our goose field was not as fervent this season as it has been in years past. Like many hunters, we spent many mornings staring out at thousands of specks, snows and Canadas from a dreary distance. It wasn't until the final weeks of the season that the birds — specks in particular — decided to cross some imaginary line and give us a close enough look. After months of frustration and dejection, we finally maneuvered to get a few good shots on the incoming flocks. Even though the season seemed to screech to a halt, there were a few things we did to pick up the pace and improve our chances. Make sure to check out these five great ways to speed up a slow goose season — it could just be the difference between a forgettable and unforgettable hunt.
Don't Waste Your Time
Don't waste time chasing birds when they are not flying. We learned very quickly the geese simply would not fly in the morning, so there was no reason to keep waking up at 4 a.m. to look up at empty skies. It can be frustrating when you go out time and again and nothing shows up. It will wear on you. I've known plenty of guys who have given up on a season because they are getting up early, seeing nothing and then heading in for an afternoon at work. It's too much of a grind — don't do it.
Fix Your Spread
We had way too much going on with our decoys early in the year, so I simplified it by putting the full-body Canadas and shells in separate groups. I then moved some specklebelly groups to the periphery, where I know they like to feed together most of the time. With two weeks remaining on the season, we finally started peeling birds with low groans and clucks. Instead of a massive spread of everything from snows to greenheads, and super-aggressive calling, we kept it simple.
Buy A Goose Flag
Nothing gets the attention of a long-range goose like a flapping piece of black cloth. There are intricacies to flagging, so here is the rule I go by: Flag until you have the bird's attention, and put the thing down once the geese are a few hundred yards away. Some guys will flag when birds start to slide the edge of the dekes, but it's only little flutters. Most of the early-season birds we saw were way out there, and the only reason they gave us a look was the flag.
Get Out There on Foggy Days
Yes, it's true birds don't always like to fly through the soup, but if it's clear in the morning and fogs up in the afternoon, be there for the last 30 minutes of shooting time. My brother and I were packing up after sitting in layouts for hours and seeing nothing, when we heard the unique chirps of a speck in the distance. So we decided to crouch down at the edge of the field and see what showed up. Sure enough, flock after flock poured over us. It was so murky the birds couldn't see us standing up, and we're both 6-foot-4, 250 pounds.
Don't Be Afraid to Move
The old codgers may scoff at this, but don't be afraid to pick up and move. If the geese continue to fly along the periphery of your spread, grab a few decoys and walk to where they are flying. There are several run-and-gun type layouts on the market, and some of them even have room for decoys and silhouettes. If you don't want to spend the money, just make sure you are in full camo, slot some dekes and go lay on the ground — just be sure to have something to cover your face.