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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Five Great Spreads for Geese

Expert tips for decoying Canadas, Snows, Specklebellies, Cacklers, and Brant
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4. Curt Wilson's Specklebelly Spread

Curt Wilson lives in Oroville, California, a small town on the eastern rim of the Sacramento Valley. Each winter this area attracts hundreds of thousands of white-fronted geese, or "specklebellies." Wilson hunts these birds over a spread of three dozen flocked full-body specklebelly decoys. "You don't need a huge number of decoys for specks," he says. "If you're in the right spot, three dozen decoys are plenty."

Wilson and his hunting partners scout extensively to find places where white-fronts are working a harvested rice field. They typically set up with a levee at their backs to help conceal their layout blinds. 

They camouflage their blinds with ghillie covers augmented by rice stubble or other natural vegetation.

Wilson positions his decoys so the geese come in from a quartering angle instead of head-on. With such a setup, the birds are less likely to see the blinds as they approach the spread. 

The hunters deploy the decoys in two groups. The smaller group consists of eight to 10 decoys placed on the downwind side of the blinds. Wilson spreads these decoys several feet apart to simulate a flock of geese feeding in a "relaxed" manner. He also uses two feeders for every upright decoy to give the impression that an abundance of food is available. 

A larger group of approximately 24 decoys is set upwind from the blinds, leaving a big opening between the two decoy groups. "I don't set these decoys in any special pattern," Wilson says. "But I do make a distinct feeding line on the upwind edge of the spread. The farthest decoy is about 45 yards from the blinds." 

For a final touch, Wilson lines three or four decoys in single file leading from the smaller group of decoys toward the open hole in front of the blinds. The idea is to make these decoys look like geese walking from the little group toward the big group. "I leave plenty of room between the last walker and the big group, since this is the main landing zone for incoming geese," he explains. "The birds will usually fly past the small downwind group to land in the hole in front of the walkers. This gives us easy crossing shots when the birds prepare to land."

Wilson calls to the geese to supplement the attraction of this spread. "I'll do a mix of yodels and clucks, mostly clucking to finish them," he says. "But if an incoming flock starts drifting away, I'll get on them hard to regain their attention."

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