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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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White-Fronted Geese 

Jason Campbell of Iowa, Louisiana, is a two-time "specklebelly" calling champion. Campbell is also an avid hunter of specks and a member of the RNT and Avery Outdoors pro staffs. 

Whether hunting in local rice fields or competing in contests, he uses an RNT acrylic narrow-bore call with a Mylar reed.

"All my calling is based on the distinctive two-note yodel that specks make," Campbell says. "I don't call at every goose I see. Instead, I focus on birds that I think are callable—birds that are flying out of normal flight patterns, lower birds, and singles."

When he sees workable specklebellies, Campbell issues the two-note call and waits for an answer. If he gets one, he follows up immediately, mimicking the bird's response. "You can tell right away if they're interested," he says. "If they are, then I try to engage them in a dialogue and draw them toward my decoys."

"Less is more" is Campbell's philosophy for calling specklebellies. "The less I call, the less likely they are to pinpoint me," he explains. "If they're working, I don't call much. I want them focused on my decoys instead of on my calling location. My goal is to shoot them, not entertain them."

Campbell will, however, add more persuasion if passing specks ignore him, or if working birds start veering away. "In either case I will call louder, faster, and with a different inflection. If the geese continue to ignore me or start going away, I'll give up on them. But if they respond, I'll repeat whatever vocalization I made that triggered their favorable response."

When specklebellies get close, Campbell calls at "wingtips and tail feathers"—when the geese are banking or going away. "When they're right on top of me, I refrain from calling so I don't draw unwanted attention. I try to keep them guessing so they won't locate my position. Also, when geese are coming straight on, I call very, very sparingly. The closer they get, the more I tone it down. Over that last hundred or so yards, I may call once for every two or three calls they make."

Campbell adds that this passive style of calling specklebellies is necessary in the South because of heavy gunning pressure. "The geese around here are ‘educated,' and it's easy to overcall them," he says. "But I've hunted in areas farther up the flyway where the geese weren't as hunter-savvy and I could call more aggressively, with good results." 

No single calling style fits all hunting scenarios. If what you're doing isn't working, try something different, Campbell advises. "Avoid getting in a calling rut. Keep trying different stuff until you find the routine that the geese are responding to best, then stick with it," he says.

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