Story at a Glance
Tips covered in this feature:
- Sound like contented geese
- Get out of your comfort zone
- Find or create open water
- Keep your spread realistic
by Gary Koehler
One of the coldest days I've ever spent hunting occurred in January a number of years ago in northern Illinois. The temperature was in the teens. Six inches of snow covered the ground. A bitter wind cut the air. And our hide was less than stellar in terms of protection and warmth.
Arriving at daylight, my buddy and I sat there shivering for six bone-chilling hours. Although large numbers of geese were in the area, the lone flock of Canadas that flew over the picked cornfield we were hunting did so with a somewhat predictable 10 a.m. flight. They were headed out to feed—somewhere else.
Late-season geese can be boom or bust depending on the conditions and how well one prepares. But when things go right, goose hunting in January can be extraordinary.
Sound Like Contented Geese
Some hunters begin calling as soon as they see Canada geese, no matter how far away the birds may be. They call and call and call some more. John Taylor, who has hunted Maryland's Eastern Shore his entire life, favors a different approach late in the season.
"I call only at birds that I think I have a chance at," Taylor says. "If geese are leaving the roost and going the other way, I don't try to change their minds. I just wait for a bunch that looks workable. And I never, ever shoot the roost.
"When calling late-season geese, I try to focus more on sounding like geese than someone calling geese, and there is a difference," Taylor continues. "By that I mean you should try to sound more like contented geese feeding in the field. More times than not, a caller will call as fast as he can to sound like as many geese as he can. It usually sounds like one goose on steroids. Practice overlapping high and low notes to replicate good multiple sounds of a few different geese."