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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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3. Adjust Your Decoys as Needed

Many Canada goose hunters believe that the more decoys you use the better. But success does not always depend so much on the number of decoys as how they are positioned. If deployed in the wrong manner, a huge decoy spread can be more of a liability than an asset. Learn to make the necessary adjustments to suit the situation at hand.

"Always watch how the first birds react to your decoy spread," says Dave Dorrell, a game call maker from Klamath Falls, Oregon. "Don't just set up the spread and ride it out. If the birds are favoring one side or another, get up right away and move some of the spread from the weak side to the favored side to try to block them off and center them up.

"And never be afraid to move your blind out of the decoys. If birds want to circle or land upwind, move your blind 20 yards upwind, if cover permits. In other cases, you may have to move your spread downwind 20 yards. This is especially true when birds that seem totally committed to landing in your rig suddenly flare for no reason. They have shifted their attention from your decoys to your blind, and you have lost."

"Always watch how the first birds react to your decoy spread. Don't just set up the spread and ride it out." —Dave Dorrell

Pursuing Canada geese over water, however, often requires a different approach. Here, less can mean more. "Over water, at least in our area, decoy spreads don't have to be huge.

Anywhere from two decoys to five dozen decoys can work well, depending on the time of year," Dorrell says. "If birds are roosting on the water in big numbers, use more decoys. If you're hunting small groups of geese during the late season, use a pair to a half-dozen."

Knowing what your neighbor is doing can also give you an edge. "If all the guys in the area are running big spreads, run a small one," Dorrell says. "And sometimes small means really small. We have consistently landed paired-up, late-season Canadas over water with only two or three decoys. The geese are starting to get territorial in January, and seeing other paired geese on the water gets them all fired up."

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