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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Decoy Strategies for Geese

Tips to capitalize on proven bird habits to put more geese in the decoys

When temperatures bottom out and fields are snow packed, Keller says birds will concentrate even more, often standing shoulder to shoulder or lying down on the ground.

In these conditions, Keller recommends using shell decoys or full-bodied decoys with their bases removed. But be sure to mix in a few full-bodies to represent birds that have just landed or birds that are stretching or walking to a new food source.

Along with temperatures, Keller has also observed that the wind can play a key factor in decoy location.

"During windy conditions, birds will often seek areas in the field that are protected," Keller explains. "Look for low-lying swales or impressions behind hills. Birds will always tend to get on the protected side of a landform."

Conversely, on days with little wind, geese will often seek out high points or plateaus in fields.

Change with the migration

As a season progresses, and different species of geese begin to make their way down the flyway, Keller suggests hunters modify their decoy spreads accordingly.

"Lesser Canada geese tend to pack together on the ground and move rapidly as a group, whereas honkers will land with other flocks but then likely spread out into smaller bunches," he says.

Keller says the goal is just to keep things looking realistic, and sometimes that can also help a hunter get noticed.

"When there is a mixture of species in the area, I like throwing in a couple dozen snow goose full-bodies at the upwind side of the spread, and I often throw in a few specks to add color and realism," says Keller. "Not only does this represent the real flocks on the ground, the added color makes the spread visible from a much further distance to birds in the air."

Keller also recommends hunters take a look at the styles of decoys they are using. Sleeper and rester poses work great along a shoreline. In the field, he typically uses 70 percent feeder decoys to 30 percent active – a ratio that simulates birds attacking a prevalent food source and a flock that is not alarmed.

Keller says it all comes back to using decoy spreads that reflect observations of real birds in the field.

"Pay attention to the details and continue to observe bird habits," says Keller. "It is simply the best way to make your spread look realistic."

Picking up on bird behavior is something every hunter can do, and the more you know, the more likely you will be to stay one step ahead of your game this season.


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