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Joined: 08:06am - Sep 18,06
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Post Posted: 01:08pm - Dec 29,14 
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I have a bunch of questions and hoping some fellow hunters on this board can offer some advice/suggestions on field hunting geese.

First, some background on me: I've been waterfowl hunting, upland game hunting & deer hunting for 25 years (since I was 10) but mostly deer hunt. When I waterfowl hunt, it's on public land with the exception of 1 field we have on our deer land that provides some opportunities at geese. Deer hunting has been very slow this year, so we're putting more effort into goose hunting. Even though I have a good amount of waterfowl experience, I still consider myself pretty much a novice as my dad was the expert. If dad was still here, I'd be asking him these questions....but I no longer have that opportunity so I'm asking you all.

Background on our goose field: 60 acre ag field (sometimes corn, sometimes beans. This year beans) that boarders a non-hunted pond that serves as a refuge and holds a good number birds. We've patterned the geese over the years by watching them while deer hunting and know their flight paths. Their flight paths & times are very predictable and take them near & sometimes over our field but getting them to commit to our spread has been very difficult. They typically fly straight to the refuge on a mission and leave the refuge similarly. The geese rarely feed in our field but do sometimes. We play the wind, hunt different sections of our field (do not go close to the boarder with the refuge though), use the field's hills to get out of the wind and use layout blinds. We have been able to call geese over to our spread and get some good looks, but making them commit or at least come into shooting range has been a significant challenge. This has me asking the following questions:

1) What's the best way to pull geese into a field they fly over but do not frequently feed in? My assumption is that there is no "best way" so what types of tips/tricks/advice can you offer?

2) We typically only hunt with the 3 dozen good, flocked head decoys we have but also have 2.5 dozen more. My theory with a small spread is that calling like a field full of 100's of birds doesn't make sense so we typically try to keep calling to a minimum. Is that line of thinking correct? How does decoy spread size correlate to calling strategy - or is there really a correlation?

3) What types of small decoy spreads are recommended for this type of setup? We typically use "J" & "U" spreads but also setup what I call a "II" spread which is the "U" without the bend connecting the two groups.

4) This year we've really been working on our calling and have made significant process being consistent with our honks, clucks, murmurs and moans. However, I struggle with when is the best time to use each as well as how & when to begin/stop calling excitedly. I know that unlike duck hunting, geese are typically loud and excited when other geese are coming in to land. How do I sound "excited" and when do I begin calling that way? When they turn to come towards us? When they're overhead checking us out? When they turn off us and are going away?

5) Is there any other advice you'd be willing to share?

After 2 weekends of seeing 100's of birds fly by and dozens check out our spread but never even taking the safety off, I've really been wracking my brain on this. We try to put as much thought as we can into the shape of our spread, where to put the sleepers, where to put the feeders, where to put the standing sentries, where to put the layout blinds, etc. I keep thinking there has to be a way to outsmart these birds.....or at least give us a better chance at out smarting them. Any and all advice would be appreciated. Thanks and good luck.

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Post Posted: 02:11pm - Dec 29,14 
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Pressured geese are really tough, especially this time of the year when they know where not to get shot at. My initial thought is to find out where they are feeding. Follow them in the morning, or find them mid afternoon to see where it is they are and what they are feeding on. In my experiences, they tend to feed in grass when it's warmer and grain as it gets colder. Have you seen them actively feeding in your field? Are you hunting mornings, afternoons, both? Is the refuge huntable for you?

1. It is extremely difficult to persuade them to go somewhere else, when they're on a safe feeding/roosting pattern.
2. Your typical spreads(on a normal weather year), should be small family groups early season, increasing as the migration picks up. But there is no guarantee and 1000 theories on what works best. Just last weekend we pulled down a group of 50 birds into a spread of less than a dozen. You're right on with calling strategy, less decoys = less noise. Let the birds tell you what they want. If they're quiet, I'll only give them a cluck here and there, just to let them know we're here. If they're locking up before you get the call up, let them be until they start to stray off.
3. Small spreads we will usually just put in little groups of 2-4 and let them tell you where they want to land and adjust accordingly.
4. It's best to hit them on the corners and when they show hesitation in their flight/wing beats. As previously mentioned, they don't always respond, even if you're doing "the right thing" and you've noticed that they often times are on a mission, no matter how good you're setup and calling. They've seen hundreds of spreads around town and usually are going to do what they did the day before, no matter what. Usually won't call when they're straight over head.
5. Are you using any motion? Flags? Flappers? Kites? This may add another element to entice. How well are your layouts hidden?? Concealment can be your worst enemy. If they birds come to take a look just out of shooting range and either flare or keep going, they've picked you out. Beans are extremely tough to hide layouts in, due to their low profile.

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Post Posted: 11:09am - Dec 30,14 
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Thanks for the reply, nak. Good info and you've helped my sanity by confirming some of the things I've been pondering.

No, we do not have access to hunt the refuge. I think that's a good thing. The farmer that owns the pond does not allow anyone to hunt it or his fields, which ensures that the geese will continue to use the area. Obviously though, this also makes it hard to hunt other spots nearby since the geese know where they're safe. We usually only hunt the field a couple times a year and it's always a crap shoot to see if we can get some birds to work, but sometimes it does and it's usually early in the season.

The birds do use our field a couple times a year from what we've seen. However, since we're only down there hunting on the weekends, we don't get to see where they're going every day. We did have one hunt where we waited for them to leave our field, went in, set up, and had probably the most memorable goose hunt my brother and I have ever had when they came back later in the day. It would be great if that happened more often.

We do use a flag or 2, have a couple Heavy Hauler Cupped & Committed "flyers" and also use some silhouettes to simulate movement. However, I think the birds we are hunting have seen all the gimmicks already and I'm loosing faith in the "flyers".

As for concealment, we do our best to brush up the layouts as much as possible using bean stalks and grasses from the field. We even sometimes use a grass/brush patch in the field to try to "disappear". Here's a pic of my hunting buddy and I from Sunday. I think we look pretty covered up....but I'm now thinking we need to go the extra step of having everyone down in their layout as far as possible, completely covered up by the mesh and no heads/faces sticking out at all. I guess it only matters if you can see them where you can shoot them, right?

Image

Thanks again for your help.

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Post Posted: 11:33am - Dec 30,14 
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Ya, to be most successful with geese, constant knowledge is a must. Knowing exactly what they're doing on a day-to-day basis is your best bet for constant success, although not guaranteed.

From this info, I would say you're doing about as good as you can, given the conditions. If you can get near the pond, you could have consistent pass shooting, but I would only hunt the afternoons when they are returning. Shoot at the 1st 3-4 groups, then get the hell outta there and let the rest in without shooting. This will ensure consistent use.

You might try throwing them a 'curveball' and mixing in a bunch of snow decoys. Nobody really hunts them around here, thus, they don't put them out.

Based on the picture, you're very well covered, I might try putting some full body and shells around your layouts, although that grass is not something they would normally land in.

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Post Posted: 11:35am - Jan 23,15 
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Nak has offered some good advice. Couple items that I keyed in on your first post.
1. Beans - Never worth a squat this late in the year. Corn is where it's at unless it gets unseasonably warm and wet, they simply want the corn this time of year. IMO you are wasting your time trying to decoy them into beans without one hell of a huge spread. You are probably better off pass shooting of possible.
2. Flag - toss it this time of year. They've already seen it. I may use it vary sparingly on very distant flocks but that's it. It gets put away long before they are remotely close this late in the season

My past experience has shown calling has little do due with decoy spread size or shape. I listen to what the first couple groups are saying prior to calling with more than a few honks or purrs to get there attention. If they are generally quite I do very little calling if any. If they seem dis-interested or are flying away I will then start to get on them.

Typically it's your hide that gives you away, I don't see that as an issue given your pic. In your case I would want the decoys in the field to keep attention away from you in the grass. I really think the beans are your main issue though over everything you've stated....

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Post Posted: 09:26pm - Jan 24,15 
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Try using less decoys and less hunters. only hunt by your self or one other person

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Post Posted: 10:43pm - Jan 24,15 
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Nak, you have nailed it.

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Post Posted: 09:29am - Dec 21,15 
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Resurrecting this thread because things have changed. I'd love to say that somehow we became better waterfowlers, better callers, better with our strategy or better with our decoy spread setup.....but only one thing has changed and it has truly been a game changer for us hunting these geese. During the Black Friday sales, my brother, hunting buddy and I went in and bought 3 dozen Big Foot B2 full body decoys to update our spread and replace the 15+ year old decoy shells and floaters we had been using. Immediately, these things provided results. The first time out, we had more looks than we ever have had previously, even had a group come into the decoys perfectly and dropped 2. The second time out with the new decoys was probably the most exciting goose hunt I've ever been on with all the action we had and were able to put 4 on the ground. After going 2 for 2 with the new decoys, our confidence was sky rocketing but we didn't really think 3 for 3 was going to happen....but it did. Yesterday, even with 25 mph winds and birds that didn't want to sit down anywhere, we were able to get a group to come into the edge of our spread and dropped 3 more. These 9 geese that we've shot already this year is not only a new yearly record, but also more geese than we have shot in all previous years combined! It absolutely blows my mind that the only thing we changed were the decoys. Amazing how well those things work!

My hunting buddy is now so hooked on goose hunting (especially since deer hunting has been slow) that he's secured us a few more fields to hunt in a different county and has started looking for a trailer to haul the 3 dozen we have now and however many we end up adding to the spread in the future. Really this post is just an advertisement for the B2's - find them on sale, buy them, they work!!!!

However, I still have some questions. Now that we have geese regularly coming into our spread, what are some general guidelines we should follow to keep them coming back? We try not to shoot when there are lots of birds in the air near by as well as shoot at the first couple groups that come in and then get out of there. Obviously, we don't want to be hunting the same field (and the same spot in the same field) time after time. Is there a general guideline anyone follows as far as how frequently to hunt a location? Anything else we should doing to not burn our our field/spot?

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Post Posted: 06:57pm - Dec 31,15 
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I brought this up again because the Geese have really been flying the last two days. We got two to submit last weekend,but i'm almost positive they were around for a while. In fact one was banded in rockford 2012. We are going out tomorrow. The question is, can we draw these new birds with a large spread from high altitudes? We are in flooded timber surrounded by corn We will be out early to break the ice. Any expert advice would be great. I'm hitting the sack after the Hawks game so if you have something bring it on. Thanks

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Post Posted: 12:59pm - Jan 2,16 
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Frisbee,

New dekes will make a difference for sure, especially if you were hunting 15 year old shells with old paint and no messing. Don't be afraid to still use the oldies as fillers. But be sure to use your best dekes closest to your landing zone. I use a mixture of original bigfoot and B2s with some Higdon wobblers for adding motion to the spread. Over the past week the migration has really picked up and we've seen fresh, uneducated birds. This is probably one of the best factors for getting them to decoy. They haven't a clue of which fields are "danger" yet, so they lock up on whatever is easiest.

In terms of blowing birds out of a field, the worst thing to do is shoot up big flocks. Especially is there are only 2 of you. Sounds like you've figures that out. Also, if you hunt an afternoon and they're already out there, don't shoot. Just casually walk out into the field and they will fly off and likely return later, but will not be afraid to come back another day. When you shoot your limit, get out as quickly as you can. Let the other birds come in comfortably and they will continue to use it. Unless of course it's this time of year, where they are here until another cold snap pushes them south. We've had limits every time out for the past week, then yesterday not a bird in the sky. Today a few migrating, but nothing giving a look.

livetofish,

Sorry, a bit late for ya. I probably wouldn't consider a bird banded in Rockford to be a migrator, but you are right, they have been on the move lately. Open water this time of year is a magnet. Yes, you will get high fliers to come down for water. I would suggest making sure the hole is clean, slide the broken ice underneath if possible. I would mostly put sleeper shells stacked in tightly around the edge that the wind is coming from, throw in a couple full body bulls and a couple(4-6) floaters.

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Post Posted: 08:48am - Jan 3,16 
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Nak,
We went out Friday , my partners had the hole open BUT did not clean away the broken ice and in fact dragged weeds up on the ice. We actually had a discussion about that. We didn't get high flyers but did get low flyers to take a look. They would almost get in range and then vier off. Are concealment was good. Thanks for the tip.
P.S. We walked away from the blind for 10 minutes to shoot some dove and of course flock flew 30 ft. over the blind. We would have limited out. The good news is we are learning from our mistakes.

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