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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Calling All Geese

Five experts share their secrets for calling Canadas, cacklers, whitefronts, light geese and brant 
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  • Cackling goose
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Small Canada and Cackling Geese

Many waterfowlers mistake lesser Canada geese and cackling geese (once considered Canada geese but reclassified in 2004 as a separate species) for diminutive versions of larger honkers. 

Not Sean Mann. This world champion goose caller and call maker from Trappe, Maryland, knows the difference. He also knows that these smaller, tundra-breeding geese must be called differently than their larger cousins. 

"A lot of times, it's better to work bigger Canada geese with minimal calling," Mann explains. "It's like a back-and-forth conversation, similar to the kids' game Marco Polo. They call, you answer. And hopefully they come."

The technique is different with these smaller geese. "You use a higher-pitched call, and call a lot more—almost constantly," Mann says. "You make a lot of noise and call the whole flock instead of just the flock leader. They're more drawn by the rhythm than to any single call within the rhythm."

In 14 years of guiding hunters in eastern Alberta, Mann has lured tens of thousands of these smaller geese into his decoys. When a flock is approaching and "loving it," he "bounces" continuous clucks, double-clucks, and feeder moans their way using a Wing Mann short-reed call from his own Wing Nutz call collection.  

"Because lesser Canadas and cacklers typically fly and work in larger flocks, they like to hear a ‘flock' on the ground," Mann says. "Just keep giving it to them, and call them all the way to the finish line. Don't back off! If you stop calling, these birds can get real spooky in a hurry."

Mann also advises hunters to experiment with different cadences and sequences to discover which ones the birds respond to best. "They're just like other geese in one respect: on different days, they respond better to different sounds and combinations of sounds. So experiment with different routines and cadences to try to learn what the geese are responding to."

What's Mann's biggest secret for calling geese—or ducks, for that matter? Confidence. "You've got to believe you can call those birds in," he says. "Then you just muster up the determination to do it. True, this is a very indefinable part of calling, but in my opinion it's also the most crucial part. The caller with the most confidence is always the one who gets the most birds to come in."

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