Skip to main content

Hunting Cacklers

These scouting, decoying and blind setup tips are sure to help you get on large flocks of small geese.

The addiction of hunting cacklers continues to escalate throughout the flyways they inhabit, but getting on these large flocks of small geese isn’t as simple as it may seem. Convincing a flock of 5,000-plus geese to land in your decoys can be the biggest challenge, for if you fail to setup on the X — the spot they’ve been feeding on — all your efforts may be thwarted.

Take the scenario in the accompanying video above. On this morning dense fog and a continual shift in wind direction dictated our decoy arrangement. On mornings when the wind direction is steady, try situating the decoys in one mass flock, heads primarily facing into the wind, to simulate the grazing pattern they exhibit. With a few landing pockets on the fringe near your blind, birds will often want to land there.

Cacklers-Decoy-Position.jpg

Large flocks of cacklers can mow down a grass field in a short time, and they do it by feeding as they walk, or flying from spot to spot. If they find a spot they like, they might feed there for hours. If they consume the grass in one spot, they might lift off and fly 100 yards and start grazing in a different spot of the same field. Often, what cacklers do, and when they do it, makes little sense.

But let’s back up. The most important part of any cackler hunt is the scouting. You might spend days, even weeks, patterning flocks. In valleys laden with green, lush grass, geese can have hundreds of square miles to dine on. The key is finding where they fly to from their night’s roost, and start feeding, then keep feeding on.


Many dedicated cackler hunters in the Pacific Northwest, where I hunt the most, won’t think about setting decoys in a field until the geese have been hitting the same exact spot, at the same precise time for two, sometimes three, days. And the numbers have to be there, too. For many hunters the magic number is 5,000 geese; for others it can be twice that. In other words, not until they see 5,000-10,000 geese landing in the same spot for two to three days will they even think about setting out a large spread of decoys.


Cacklers-Hunters-Layout.jpg

Then there’s the blind. Because cacklers typically feed in the middle of green, short-grass fields, hiding from them can be a major challenge. Don’t think because flocks are comprised of thousands of birds that they’re stupid — they’re far from it — especially as the season rolls along.

As large flocks of geese consume the middle of a field, they’ll often start grazing toward the edges. That’s when you want to get serious. Find tall, yellow grass or other cover to put your layout blinds in. Be sure to brush in your layout or A-frame blind to precisely match the cover, or birds won’t commit.

When a flock of 5,000 cacklers takes flight, they’re loud, and no calling can compete with that. But often times small flocks break away from larger groups, even singles and doubles can trickle by, and calling can be highly effective. The best results I’ve seen have come from using calls specifically designed for cacklers, versus trying to make a snow goose or whitefront call do the job.

If you want to hunt cacklers there are no shortcuts. Scouting demands time, a spread of decoys isn’t cheap, and blind preparation is never ending. But done right, when you hit the X, there’s nothing like the thrill of having a flock of 10,000 screaming geese drop right into your lap.


Note: Scott Haugen is a full-time author. Learn more at www.scotthaugen.com, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Craig Boddington and Eric Poole take a look at the new modern Franchi Affinity shotgun.

Arkansas Snow Geese

Arkansas Snow Geese

Wildfowl Editor Skip Knowles took this short video showing all the Snow Geese flying. Let's just say, he had a very good hunt!

Picking a Puppy

Picking a Puppy

Wildfowl contributor Mark Romanack shares advice about choosing your next retriever.

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

We might not see anxiety or worry in our dogs, but it is there and can affect hunting ability. How Stress Affects a Dog's Hunting Ability Retriever

How Stress Affects a Dog's Hunting Ability

Tony J. Peterson

We might not see anxiety or worry in our dogs, but it is there and can affect hunting ability.

Times have changed, and so has the size of our retrievers. Size Versus Drive in Hunting Dogs Retriever

Size Versus Drive in Hunting Dogs

Tom Dokken

Times have changed, and so has the size of our retrievers. 

Mallards are masters of avoiding hunting pressure.Are Mallard Ducks Becoming Nocturnal? Conservation

Are Mallard Ducks Becoming Nocturnal?

David Hart

Mallards are masters of avoiding hunting pressure.

For a good aquatic intro for your pup, simply take it easy.Basic Water Training for Your Retriever Retriever

Basic Water Training for Your Retriever

Bill Gibson

For a good aquatic intro for your pup, simply take it easy.

See More Trending Articles

More Hunting Tactics

There is no bigger advantage to killing greenheads in the late season than an open duck hole.The Open Water Advantage for Late Season Duck Hunting Hunting Tactics

The Open Water Advantage for Late Season Duck Hunting

Brad Fitzpatrick

There is no bigger advantage to killing greenheads in the late season than an open duck hole.

Locate a few small-water spots and let nature do the rest. Low-Cost Duck Hunting on Public Water Hunting Tactics

Low-Cost Duck Hunting on Public Water

Tony J. Peterson

Locate a few small-water spots and let nature do the rest.

With birds talking, calls sounding and wind blowing, it can be tough to hear the call from the other side of the blind. Calling the Shot is Critical to Waterfowling Success Hunting Tactics

Calling the Shot is Critical to Waterfowling Success

Alex Langbell

With birds talking, calls sounding and wind blowing, it can be tough to hear the call from the...

By shore blind or boat, many rivers are killer duck holes.Big River Bird Basics Hunting Tactics

Big River Bird Basics

David Hart

By shore blind or boat, many rivers are killer duck holes.

See More Hunting Tactics

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Wildfowl App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Wildfowl subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now