How wary are late-season geese? “I’ve seen them flare from a field full of live birds because a nearby clump of cornstalks looked too much like a hunter’s blind,” says Hard Core Decoys pro staffer Matt Ward. Avery pro-Laurence Mauck adds that a single honk too many from you can send an otherwise committed flock sliding out of range. So how do you score on honkers this goosey? Here are the pros’ top tricks.
1 Scout the hunters. Scouting birds is critical now, and you want to mimic exactly what you’re seeing. But Mauck also scouts his competition. “These geese catch on to what other guys are doing fast,” he says. If they’re running big spreads of full bodies, he’ll try a smaller spread of silhouettes. If they’re all blowing short-reed calls, he’ll bust out a flute.
2 Don’t shoot. If you fire into a big flock, you’ll educate 50 birds to kill a few, says Mauck. “We shoot only at the smaller groups. If a big flock lands in the decoys, we’ll let them get comfortable, then we’ll let the dog out to push them off gently. Or we may ask the farmer to drive into the field.” And once you get your geese, get out quick. “All the birds that come to your field later will have no idea what happened earlier.”
3 Quit the field. “I