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Banding Together for Waterfowl

The Big Splash

Shooting geese over water requires attention to detail
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"Got 'em," Gillmann said minutes later, as the geese bore down on us full throttle, crossing the far bank and emerging over the lake. "They're comin' right in."

Moncrief was in the boat below. Hearing Gillmann's report and responding with an expletive, he began wildly tearing the camo cover off the hide's side in order to make room for the barrel of his 12-gauge and squeeze off a shot.

I was quivering as the geese set their wings. The Canadas looked as big as 747s as they applied the brakes and began gliding in for a landing. Gillmann shot first, which was only right. When the gunfire subsided, four Canadas were dead on the water.

"Too far, huh?" Gillmann said. "No such thing." Perfect.

We were at the right place at the right time with a caller who got the birds' attention, initiated a conversation, and kept the geese interested. That's always a good hand to play. But there are any number of subtle tricks and techniques that you can use to attract geese to your water spread. With any luck, fond memories will be included in the package.

Canada Geese

There is no truth to the rumor that Field Hudnall has traded his shotgun for a video camera. It's just that these days–more than ever—he carries both.

Hudnall, the 2004 World Goose Calling Champion and a two-time International champion, stays busy filming waterfowl for Habitat Flats Productions and related ventures. Canada goose hunting remains a passion, perhaps even more so now that he's returned home to Kentucky. Hudnall cut his waterfowl hunting teeth gunning with family and friends along the Ohio River.

"We set the decoys more horizontal to the bank. If the geese land short, they're still within killing range."
Field Hudnall

"When you are hunting geese in a field, you have the advantage because the geese are coming in to feed," Hudnall says. "You can control the message to the geese where the food is in the field. When you are hunting geese over water, you lose that control because they're usually not going there to feed. Some guys hunt flooded corn, but in general geese are coming back to water to rest."

Canada geese are pursued along rivers, streams, lakes, farm ponds, marshes, reservoirs, flooded agricultural crops, and more. Each situation is unique, and the hunter's approach will vary according to the conditions.

"By nature, when geese land on water they generally won't mix with other birds," Hudnall says. "Ducks will land right in the middle of your decoys, but geese will often land short and swim into the flock. If you set a massive decoy spread and the farthest decoy is 35 yards out, you can pretty much count on geese landing 10 to 15 yards shy. When we hunt rivers or lakes, we love to set big goose spreads, but we've learned that we can't run the decoys very far out. We set the decoys more horizontal to the bank. If the geese land short, they're still within range."

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