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Decoy Strategies for Geese

Tips to capitalize on proven bird habits to put more geese in the decoys
  • photo by Randy Munn
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by John Pollman

What are the odds that if given a choice between sitting in a blind without a gun or not going out at all, many hunters would choose the latter?

Let's be honest: hunters love trigger time, but a vast majority of folks enjoy soaking in the sights of a morning on a marsh or in the field just as much.

But how many hunters really watch what is actually going on?

For one of the nation's top goose hunters, a lifetime of observing bird behavior has helped him take some of the guesswork out of decoy spreads. The following are ways he believes hunters can capitalize on proven bird habits and put more geese in the decoys this hunting season.

Weather wise

The Missouri River runs through the heart of South Dakota, and each year hundreds of thousands of Canada, white-fronted and snow geese follow the natural corridor as they migrate south.

Having grown up on the banks of the Mighty Mo', Tyson Keller has long enjoyed a front-row seat to the habits of migrating geese.

Keller, media relations specialist for Avery Outdoors, says that observing how bird behavior changes over the course of a season has helped him put more geese in the decoys.

"Every day is a new day due to changing weather and the various stages of migration within a season," says Keller. "I have found that you want to make sure that your decoy spread reflects the birds you are targeting and the current hunting conditions."

In terms of weather, Keller explains that the warmer temperatures that often accompany early-season hunts tend to keep birds spread out in a field. Consequently, hunters should set up their decoys in loosely arranged family groups.

When the mercury begins to drop, geese like to get cozy.

"During colder weather, geese will typically become more concentrated on the ground and more apt to almost land on top of one another when hitting the field," says Keller. "In this type of situation, a hunter is better off setting a tighter-packed spread with a hole that is designed as a runway for incoming birds."


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