Captain Jeff Coats operates Pitboss Waterfowl guide service near Ocean City, Maryland. A full-time Maryland master guide, his main targets are sea ducks and Atlantic brant
, which winter in large numbers in Sinepuxent and Chincoteague bays.
When it comes to calling "sea geese," Coats recommends starting with a good brant call. He prefers a Bill Saunders call. He says this call has a special shaved reed that produces the lifelike purr or chirp that brant make when winging low over coastal waters.
"Brant are very vocal, noisy birds," Coats says. "When you're calling them, you just imitate their sounds. A controlled rolling of your tongue will make a bleat while steadily pushing air through the call. Then, at the end of the note, the tongue should hit the roof of your mouth to sharply cut the roll off. Don't blow too hard or too fast. Most hunters need to slow down and allow the call to ‘break.' That's how you make the chirping sound made by real brant."
Coats, who has a brant calling instructional DVD in the works for a spring 2013 release, says that hunters new to brant calling should "just listen to the brant and do what the birds are doing." He calls longer and louder when the birds are far away. Then he shortens his calls and decreases the volume as the birds approach. "Two hunters calling together sometimes works better than one calling alone," he adds.
One last word of advice: try flagging brant before calling them. Flagging and calling serve the same purpose—getting the birds to notice the decoys. "They see the flag. They hear the call. They see the decoys. And they come," Coats says.
Mastering the Basics Given the complexities of goose speak, there is no single formula for calling all geese. But even the most sophisticated goose music begins one note at a time. First, master the basic calls of the species you're targeting. Then learn to adapt different calling styles to different weather conditions. And finally, experiment with different calls, volumes, and cadences to discover what works best on a given day—and then stick with it. Follow this advice when the big birds are on the wing, and you too will lure more geese into close shooting range.