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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Close-Range Canadas

Four experts share their secrets on how to decoy wary late-season geese 
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1. Consider the View from Above

Research has shown that Canada geese have tremendous vision. While approaching a possible landing site, they are always on the lookout for something amiss or unnatural movement.

"In this world, you have predators and prey. Geese are prey," says Tony Vandemore of Habitat Flats guide service in Sumner, Missouri. "As prey, you don't live very long by being careless. Geese are constantly checking out their surroundings to try to stay alive.

"Knowing this, camouflage is of utmost importance. When hunting out of ground blinds, I like to put the blinds frame to frame, and then gather crop stubble to fill in between the blinds all the way up to the doors. This takes away any shadows and silhouette profiling of the blinds."

Vandemore sometimes takes an extra step to eliminate open spots. He makes extra-long decoy stakes to slip in between the blinds. The decoys placed on these extended stakes are positioned at the same height as the blind doors.

As a guide and flyway manager for Avery Outdoors, Vandemore hunts more than 150 days a year, beginning with Canada geese in early fall and continuing through the spring snow goose season. He sees more than his share of stubborn geese and has even classified these uncooperative birds into specific categories. "There are basically two kinds of geese that aren't finishing—flaring birds and sliding birds," he says. "Flaring geese are birds that look like they just saw a ghost when approaching the decoys and are getting out of there as fast as they can. Sliding geese are birds that are interested and might make a pass or two but just don't finish."

"In this world, you have predators and prey. Geese are prey. As prey, you don't live very long by being careless." —Tony Vandemore

Recognizing this difference will help you make the proper adjustments needed to bring in more geese. "In my opinion, flaring geese are birds that are seeing the blind or blinds. In this situation, rather than move the blinds right away, I would first check to ensure that all the blinds are camouflaged to the max and watch how the next flock reacts. Sliding geese are typically geese that tell me there is a problem with the decoys. These are interested geese that make a few passes but don't finish in the landing zone, and they might even land out of range. In this situation, I'll start by making adjustments to the decoy spread. Perhaps the landing zone is too tight, maybe the wind has shifted and the birds are cut off from getting to the hole... try whatever you can until the birds are finishing right where you want them to," he says.

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