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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Warm-Weather Duck Hunting Tips

Ducks and geese change their habits during warm spells. So should hunters.
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Geese also like to feed and loaf in different locations within a field based on weather conditions. "When it's cold, geese tend to concentrate in low areas where they have some protection from the wind," Keller says. "But during a warm spell, they will feed and loaf on the higher rolls or flats in a field." Keller typically sets his decoys where the geese were feeding the afternoon before.

When it's warm, Canada geese spread out more when feeding and are less competitive in their feeding habits. "They don't pack together in a large concentration," he explains. "Instead, they'll fan out across a field in many small family groups. Also, geese will usually be standing and walking around rather than sitting on the ground, as they do during cold weather. And when new geese are coming in, they will usually land short or outside of the birds already on the ground."

Keller incorporates these feeding behaviors into how he arranges his decoys. "I use mostly full-body decoys in warm weather, and I'll set small family groups with plenty of open space between them," he explains. "I'll put 30 to 40 decoys around the layout blinds, and then I'll set other groups of six to 10 decoys to the side (but not out of shooting range) and upwind of the big group.

"I leave a large open pocket (15 yards across) just downwind from the blinds," he continues. "On the other side of this pocket, I'll set six to 10 decoys with upright heads to make it look as if they are walking in toward the other geese. This provides incoming geese a very natural look. They will usually set in with the ‘walking geese' or fly over them and aim for the hole in front of the blinds."

Keller says that since geese don't feed as aggressively in warm weather, subtle calling works better than aggressive calling. "If geese are coming to my spread, I don't call very much," he says. "I'll finesse the birds with some low murmurs, moans, and subtle clucks, but I stay away from loud competition-style calling, which is unnatural in this situation. I just give them a little dose and watch their reaction. Sometimes silence can be the best calling approach of all."

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