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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Early Goose Action

Start your season with a bang!
  • photo by Avery Outdoors
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Story at a Glance

Topics covered in this article:
  • Scouting for geese
  • Decoy spreads
  • Goose calling
  • Goose blinds


by John Pollmann

The waterfowl season will be starting soon for those able to take advantage of early hunting opportunities for resident Canada geese. Most hunters will attest that these early season birds have become increasingly more difficult to hunt and can provide challenges equal to those geese that will travel south later in the fall. The following tips will help start your season out with a bang.


Whether you are chasing September honkers or late-December migrating geese, scouting remains the key to a successful hunt. For Missouri waterfowl hunter and guide Tony Vandemore, scouting early season geese involves paying special attention to recently harvested fields. "Typically, many areas do not have a lot of crops out when the early season begins," Vandemore says. "Freshly cut silage fields and wheat fields are a great place to start, as birds seem to find them within a day or two after harvest." In addition to the silage and wheat, Vandemore adds that early geese love to hit "green fields" and can often be found feeding in harvested alfalfa or companion crops. Overall, Vandemore shares that scouting early season birds is no different than any other time of the year. "The basics are the same: find a concentration of birds and put in the time to know exactly where they are going and what they are doing."

Decoy Spreads

The adage that "more is better" may be true for late season decoy spreads, but according to Vandemore, early season hunting doesn't require a large number of decoys. "My early season spreads are typically very small in comparison to what I put out later in the year," Vandemore says. "More times than not I am hunting with two dozen decoys or less; it really depends on the area and situation." When it comes to decoy placement, Vandemore arranges his spread to mirror what the birds were doing when he was scouting. Often, this means placing the decoys in several smaller family groups with a fair amount of open space between them. While a hunter shouldn't be afraid to change things up with decoy spreads, Vandemore suggests that the best plan is to "stick to what the real geese are doing in the field."


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