Another option for hunters who wish to build an inexpensive goose rig is silhouette decoys. "I have hunted over just about every kind of decoy imaginable and nothing beats the versatility of silhouettes," says Wettish, an avid Connecticut goose hunter and president of The Outdoor Media Group. "They are lightweight, easy to carry, and easy to put down and pick up. You can also place them on hillsides, and they look great in shallow water up to their belly. While hunting on ponds and tidal creeks, I might put a few in the water to look like birds that have just landed, and I put the rest on the shoreline to look like feeding and resting birds."
Lynch says another way to save money on decoys without sacrificing quality is to buy smaller full-body decoys rather than life-size models or magnums. "I like to use lesser Canada goose decoys," he says. "They are cheaper and lighter than standard decoys, and they are almost identical in size to juvenile Canada geese. The trend in goose hunting is to use bigger and bigger decoys, but I've found that geese will often finish better to smaller decoys, maybe because of the depth perception factor. And if everybody around you is using oversized decoys, going to a smaller decoy might actually give your spread a better look."
Wise has this advice for how to deploy small decoy spreads in a typical field-hunting situation: "When I get to the place where I want to hunt, I'll set my blind down, and then I'll set one decoy 25 steps away as a marker. This will be the farthest decoy from my blind. Then I'll set my decoys in two groups about five to 10 yards apart. I put about 10 to 12 decoys in one group and six or eight in the other. This looks like one smaller flock of geese has just landed next a larger flock of feeding birds. Most of the time, geese will try to land right between the two groups of decoys."
Wettish also believes that decoy placement is critical when hunting with a small spread. "On ponds and in small fields, you need to watch the birds once or twice before you hunt them," he says. "In many cases, geese—especially resident birds—will come in from a particular direction because of the location of trees, power lines, or other structures. It doesn't matter which way the wind is blowing. If there is a big oak standing by the pond or on the edge of the field, the geese are going to swing around it and come in from the opposite direction. I set my decoys where I expect the birds to land. That way, you will end up with better shots and cleaner kills."