Mid-season: early October through late November or early December
Good friend, Travis Mueller, incorporates what he calls lunch lines into his goose spreads, especially during the late season when the birds' stomachs dictate many of their actions and reactions. "Lunch lines," says Avery Territory Manager Mueller, "are just staggered lines of decoys that appear to 'walk' into the main body of the spread. These represent geese that have just landed, and are hot-footing it into an area of heavy feeding activity. Essentially," he continued, "these lines direct incoming birds where they want to be AND where I want them." During bouts of nasty weather, Mueller says, geese will often "cut the lines," trying to get ahead of birds arriving behind them; gunners should concentrate, then, on these areas.
"The problem with a full-body spread," says Freddie Zink of Zink Calls. "There is absolutely no movement. By mixing silhouettes throughout your spread of full-bodies and shells, the appearing-n-disappearing act that the silhouettes do is the same thing that flashing wing decoys do. That flagging does. It gives the illusion of movement in the spread."
But Freddie did say this with caution. "I'll mix decoys when I'm hunting flight birds or migrators, or when I'm looking for sheer numbers of decoys in the field. On the everyday hunt, I don't mix decoys. When geese come into a mixed spread – silhouettes, shells, and full-bodies – they quickly grow accustomed to all three types of decoys at the same time. Once they get smart to all three and you pull one or two, they've still seen the remaining style." The answer? "I'm constantly rotating the type of decoy I'm using," says Zink.
Late season: Late November/early December to season's end
"I do most of my late season hunting in northern Nevada or Colorado," says Avery Outdoors pro-staff member, Chad Belding, "when frozen ground, heavy frost, or snow is common. I use almost exclusively shells at this time because often, the first thing Canadas do when they hit these hard fields is lay down. There may be a couple standing guard, but almost all of the birds will be lying down. They're letting their body heat melt the ground enough so they can get to the food underneath. Then they'll simply eat where they're at – just peck at the ground without getting up."
Before commercial sleeper decoys were available, Belding used shells minus the heads in order to present that All Tucked In look. Today, he doesn't find it necessary to go headless. "I like the Greenhead Gear oversized shells with the flocked heads," he says. "They're very realistic, and are the exact body posture of a Canada lying on the ground." Fully flocked decoys, he claims, are even better on snow or ice or under extremely cold conditions. "The flocking – those tiny poly-fibers – retain heat better and longer, and help the decoy resist frosting."