Even if snow geese aren't a target for the day, Simon says that the white decoys are especially important for grabbing the attention of speckle-bellies later in the season.
"I think that the specks feel safe hanging with the snows, and we like them for the visibility," says Simon. "When these birds come off the refuge and head out to feed they won't fly 1 or 2 miles, they'll fly 25 miles to find the field, and if they get off line a little bit, it's nice to have that blob of white so they can see your spread."
Even with such a massive decoy spread, Simon says that speckle-bellies don't need 3 or 4 guys blowing calls to get their attention. Often one hunter, mimicking the sounds of a lead bird, is all it takes to draw the geese in close.
It's a trait that custom speckle-belly call maker Bill Daniels says makes hunting the birds so enjoyable. Learning to call speckle-bellies, however, can prove to be a challenge.
"Blowing a speck call takes a lot of air, incorporates the hands to create the back-pressure and to throw the different sounds, and you have to grunt or growl – you have to add your voice to the air," says Daniels. "It just takes a little bit to get used to it, but once you do, you'll love how the birds respond to the sounds."
Daniels – who has been designing the speckle-belly line of Riceland Custom Calls (www.ricelandcustomcalls.com) with co-owner James Meyers the past three years – says that there are two basic calls for calling speckle-bellies: a two- or three-note yodel, and the cluck.
Similar to calling other waterfowl, Daniels says that listening to the sounds of real birds is the best way to master the different vocal inflections made by speckle-bellied geese.
Watching the birds as they approach the decoys and keying in on the response from a lead bird, Daniels says, is the only way to know what really works and what doesn't.
"Calling at a speck is the closest thing I've seen to calling at a mallard – they both will work to the call – so you've got to learn to read a speckle-belly just like you would a mallard," says Daniels.
"But you're watching and listening to one goose, and as long as that bird keeps talking to you, you keep talking to it until it is close enough to shoot. If he starts to flare or slide away, you cluck hard or back off - whatever you need to do differently to get his attention back."
Blowing a speckle-belly call is not just for show, especially where Daniels hunts in southwest Louisiana. Hunting pressure gives speckle-bellies critical ears when it comes to calling, and Daniels says if you're not on top of your game, the guy in the next blind over who is will be seeing more of the action.
"If you want to have success hunting specks, you've got to know how to call," says Daniels. "But every day is different, and that's why I love calling and hunting them so much; some days they want to be called all the to the decoys, other days they're not that interested in much more than a cluck. But that's not that much different than hunting any other duck or goose."