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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Keys to Taking Late-Season Honkers

Experienced professional guides share their favored tactical adjustments when stalking Canada geese
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Story at a Glance
  • Late-season waterfowling can present the worst of times and the best of times.
  • If the geese are coming at you, are bowed up, and they are doing what you want them to do—keep the call in your pocket.
  • If calling strategy is an important component of hunting late-season Canadas, so too is decoy selection and placement.

  • Late-season gunners are sometimes required to spend extra time in the field. Canadas quite often do not start moving until mid-morning.


Random thoughts and words of wisdom from goose-hunting pros…

• "Snow is not a bad thing, but too much snow is. If you get a foot of snow on the ground, that's a bad thing. But if you can get right out there within a couple of days after a two- or three-inch snowfall, hunting can be great. The birds lose their minds with a little bit of snow on the ground."—Steve Panaroni

• If you leave your decoys out overnight, and they get dusted with snow, use a broom to clean them off.

• "The bitter cold days when the ground is frozen hard doesn't seem to work as good as those warming trends just a day or so after the fronts have come through. I think the birds let the sun warm things and melt the frost or ice off the ground, which better enables them to scratch and browse."—Steve McCadams

• Two things are necessary to hold geese: food and open water on which to roost. Locate those ingredients and you will likely find the late birds remaining in an area.

• "Have an ace in the hole when you're hunting late-season geese. If they are not responding to easy, laid-back calling, then let it out and try being more aggressive. You're sure not going to hurt anything."—Bill Saunders

• Scouting is important. Keep in mind that when the temperature falls below 20 degrees, Canada geese seldom fly far to feed. Track the birds from the roost to their buffet.

• "I always turn a couple of sentry decoys into those that are coming in. I have them facing in the direction where the geese will be coming from. Geese on the ground will do that. It might look like they are greeting the birds in the air, but what real geese are really doing is telling them to stay away."—Steve Panaroni

• Pick up any spent shell casings and any other trash on the ground around your hide. A Canada goose's vision is estimated to be at least eight times as powerful as a man's.

• "On a warm-up, after cold weather, when we get a Chinook wind, that's when things really get tough. Those can be the toughest geese you have ever seen."—Bill Saunders

• "Every day is different, as the climatic conditions and wind, or lack thereof, often dictate the calling sequence, volume, and cadence, or rhythm."—Steve McCadams

• "I would not hunt without a flag. That's a critical thing."—Steve Panaroni

In case you were wondering...

For more information on Bill Saunders of Guide Series Calls and Pacific Wings Waterfowl Adventures, visit their respective Web sites at www.guideseriescalls.com and www.pacific-wings.net. Steve Panaroni, who guides, edits hunting videos commercially, and manages his own waterfowl hunt club, may be reached by phoning 203-234-1689. Steve McCadams, who is a past world crappie-fishing champion, as well as an accomplished waterfowl hunting guide, can be reached by phoning 731-642-0360.

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