By Wade Bourne
Knowing how to use this highly effective call will help you decoy more Canada geese
I grew up a duck hunter, chasing greenheads in the swamps and on the lakes of the Mid-South. As I hunted, I also carried a goose call (a Ken Martin) in my pocket, and if a honker flew by, I'd call to it, usually with little success. In those days, a Canada goose in my bag was an almost astonishing bonus.
But when I was in my 20s, I moved to western Kentucky and began hunting in Ballard County. At the time, geese wintered there by the thousands, and hunters were skilled at enticing them into decoy spreads. I soon met game-call makers Harold Knight and David Hale, who introduced me to a call that seemed to mesmerize Canadas—the double-cluck. I eventually mastered this compelling call, and my goose-hunting fortunes quickly changed.
Learning the Basics
Over the decades, the double-cluck has continued to work for goose hunters, and it remains a highly effective call that should be part of every goose caller's repertoire. With the array of fine short-reed goose calls and calling videos available today, learning the double-cluck call isn't difficult. The short-reed is the perfect instrument for double-clucking. Its design allows an easy rollover of the reed to make this quick, excited two-note call.
The double-cluck sound has been described as look-a, look-a, look-a. A quick, high-pitched first note—a cluck—is followed immediately by a lower-pitched second note of the same length. These two-note calls are blown in rapid sequence with varying degrees of volume and intensity. When Canadas are locked up and sailing toward the decoys, a string of low double-clucks is a homing beacon to guide them in. But if the birds show signs of veering away, hunters can often regain their attention by turning up the volume and intensity of these calls. Most callers mix other calls—honks, whines, and moans—into the calling sequence for greater realism and persuasiveness.
When to Use It
For many goose hunters, a basic calling sequence might begin with hail calls—loud, drawn-out honks to gain the attention of birds at great distances. Once the geese turn and show interest, most callers shift to greeting calls, usually a fast-paced series of excited "two-goose" calls and clucks. As the flock draws closer, the double- cluck takes over, giving way to feeding and landing calls as the geese sail into shooting range. If the birds pull up or begin circling, the double-cluck can be a compelling comeback call. And two or more callers double-clucking forcefully can be effective at pulling geese closer when they are going to land short of the spread.
I've always thought of double-clucking as having an almost hypnotic effect on approaching geese. They lock on to the source of the sounds as their excitement builds about joining the spread on the ground. When used properly, double-clucking is demanding instead of simply suggestive.
Reading the Birds
As with duck calling, one of the fundamentals of being a good goose caller is learning to "read" the birds and altering your calling to suit their whims. Sometimes several callers double-clucking will spellbind Canada geese and bring them straight in. At other times, multiple callers may confuse or even frighten geese, and a single caller might be more effective. This may depend on weather conditions, hunting pressure, or other variables. Trial-and-error testing is the only way to learn which method of calling works best on a given day.
One morning two years ago, while hunting alone in western Kentucky, I spied a high flight of Canadas winging down the Mississippi River. When the birds got close enough, I started hail-calling. As they veered my way, I began honking faster and then shifted to the double-cluck. I never let up. Those birds circled four times but eventually backpedalled over my decoys. When the smoke and feathers drifted away, I felt a sense of accomplishment that only another goose caller might understand. Once again, the double-cluck had done the trick.