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Banding Together for Waterfowl

The Big Chill

A group of veteran waterfowlers shares advice on hunting Canadas as the season winds down
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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

Keep Your Spread Realistic

Where and how you set your decoys are among the keys to putting together a successful hunt. Do not be afraid to alter the size of your spread. Be mindful of what other hunters around you may be doing, but do not be afraid to step outside the norm.

"As always, observe birds in your area and place decoys as you see birds feeding and loafing," says Bill Saunders of Kennewick, Washington. "But in general, I tend to set my decoys closer together and concentrated on a food source. I will use more resting decoys in colder weather.

"The number of decoys you should use depends on the number of birds in the area and the number of decoys other hunters in your area are using," Saunders adds. "On late-season pressured birds, go bigger or smaller with your spread compared with what you set earlier in the season. Mix it up. Remember, too, that late in the season geese are in full plumage, so make sure your decoys are clean."

Cold weather can often create frost on decoys. That shiny coating is unnatural, so do what you can to eliminate that look. "Individual decoy bags are a good investment to protect and transport your decoys, and after the decoys are set, the bags can be draped over the decoys' heads and backs to keep frost from accumulating on them," Saunders says. "When I hear or see geese leaving their roost, I will quickly remove the bags and stow them in the blind or pit."

Some goose hunters swear that one of the best times to hunt geese is the day after a heavy snow. But snow creates its own set of issues. "Late season for many goose hunters means snow on the ground," Saunders says. "Keep vehicle and foot traffic to a minimum around blinds and pits. Heavy traffic will create a bulls-eye appearance from the air, which looks unnatural and will alert birds to your presence. You may even want to unload trucks and trailers away from blind locations to keep things looking natural. Spray snow available from many stores is a quick and realistic way to camouflage pit doors and layout blinds.

"During heavy snowfall, make sure to keep snow off decoy heads and backs," Saunders says. "I carry several small whisk brooms to brush off snow. Geese typically will not let much snow accumulate on their backs."


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