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Simple System for Calling Canada Geese

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  • photo by Bill Houghton
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Canada geese have an intricate system of vocal communications. "Honkers" make a variety of different calls – long range hail calls, clucks, feeding calls, comeback calls, whines, moans, etc. Each of these calls conveys a different message. Expert callers mimic all these calls and mix them appropriately to entice passing geese to join their decoys.

But what if you're not an expert? Is it still possible to call Canada geese using basic calls that are easy to learn?

The simple answer is yes. Hunters who learn two calls – the long range hail call and the cluck – can effectively attract Canadas' attention and guide them into their spread. Such a basic calling style may not be as effective as one that incorporates all these birds' various calls. Still, hunters who "honk and cluck" can be consistently successful at attracting these big birds. Here's how to do it.

The long range hail call is the basic honk, a two note sound that starts low and growling and breaks high and sharp ("herrrr-onk"). This is the call to use when Canadas are at long distance to get their attention and turn them your way. Make this loud call repeatedly until the birds turn toward the source of the calling. Then speed up the cadence of the calls and tone down the volume as they draw closer. 

As they draw closer, transition to the cluck. This resembles the second, sharp note of the long range honk, and it is issued in rapid, steady notes ("onk, onk, onk, onk, onk"). As the geese get closer still, lower the volume, but maintain the same cadence. These sounds are like a homing beacon to guide the geese to your spread. Continue clucking until the birds are in range and it's time to shoot.

As you progress in your calling skill and experience, you should expand your range of calls to learn the double-cluck, moan, whine, feeding call, comeback call and other calls that mix well with the basic greeting call and clucks. (Go to YouTube.com and search for "Goose Calling Instructions," and several helpful videos will show up.)

Still, until you can make these calls, don't be intimidated into not calling to Canada geese. If you master only the long range hail call and the cluck, you can consistently gain the attention of these birds and pull them into shooting range. And as you do, your confidence will grow and your thrills and pleasures in goose hunting will increase. Truly, there are few thrills in the outdoors like having a big flock of honkers on final approach for your decoys.

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