Calling: Less is More
No other aspect of goose hunting has been the source of more growth and innovation than calling. The advent of the flute and more recently the short-reed goose call has revolutionized the sport by enabling hunters to accurately reproduce a wide range of Canada goose sounds. But the fact is, old school goose hunters like Buckingham bagged untold numbers of geese long before anyone had ever heard of a double cluck or spit note. "I hunted geese very successfully for 27 years without even owning a goose call," Wise admits. "I'm dating myself by saying this, but part of the reason was they didn't make very good goose calls back then. Today we have some good calls that will make every possible goose sound, and they will add life to your decoys in a way that can help you bag more birds. That said, in my opinion, calling is the least important element in a successful goose hunt behind scouting, concealment, and decoys."
Lynch agrees. "Calling is the finisher that will bring geese right into the landing zone," he says. "Everybody wants to blow their call when they are in the field, but a lot of guys are better goose callers than goose hunters. As I like to say in my seminars, how many champion-calling geese have you heard? I have learned to pay more attention to the body language of working geese than to their vocal language. If geese are relaxed and coming straight into the decoys, a lot of times I won't call at all."
And Wettish cautions that hunters can do more harm than good by overcalling in many situations. "You can definitely blow geese out with a call, especially in small fields and on the water," he says. "Don't do the fancy stuff if you can't pull it off. Hunters shouldn't call any more than the birds normally would in the area you are hunting."
In truth, Lynch says that hunters have to master only a few basic sounds in order to be effective callers in the field. "If you listen to geese while they are on the ground, they really say very little—just a few clucks here and there and a lot of feeding murmur," he explains. "Learn the basics of how to hold a call and bring air up from your diaphragm. Then practice until you can make a good single cluck and natural-sounding feeding murmur. If you can do this, then you've got what it takes to call geese. This basic approach is a whole lot easier than trying to learn all the double clucks, spit notes, and comeback calls, and you won't have to worry about overcalling either."