Unlike ducks, geese don’t always require decoys to be hunted effectively.
They’re aggressive creatures, and their patterns of behavior are often different from most other waterfowl. Goose hunters need to learn their patterns and effective hunting techniques in order to be successful.
The experience of hunting them feels completely different from duck hunting.
Calls will be different, if you choose to use decoys, the spread will be different, and landing your shots might actually be more difficult due to their flying speed.
But don’t worry. We’re here to show you exactly how to pull this off with the highest success rate possible.
Let’s get you ready for goose hunting season.
Master Your Decoy Spread
If you can’t spread your decoys out well enough, then you’re not going to have much of an impact.
Grab an app that shows you proper diagrams, and stick to them. Most commonly, you’re going to see X-shaped and V-shaped formations.
Your spread should consist of decoys on the water, as well as decoys on land.
If you watch videos of geese or observe them during the hunt, you’re going to see that some are drinking while some are on land.
In a flock mentality, they’re protecting themselves from predators by diversifying where they are.
I would say that waterfowl hunters can still get a good haul even with few decoys.
If all you have is six, then you can make that work for you, you just have to place them far enough apart to attract attention from overhead geese.
Get Your Camo Ready
Get decked out in camo from head to toe.
You want to be completely concealed, whether you’re using a net or a dugout to stay put.
Geese have pretty good vision compared to most birds of prey, so you’re going to want to stay put for as long as possible after you’re camouflaged.
Purchase your camo based on the region you hunt in and the time of year.
Since the goose hunting season is mostly in winter, I recommend getting a white cap if you’re going to be in a dugout spot.
This gives you the ability to peek out from time to time without alerting them.
Keep it Simple
Don’t overcomplicate this. Geese field hunting doesn’t need to be difficult.
Get a diagram, place your decoys, find a vantage point, and wait.
You might need to use your calls, or maybe you won’t; it’s situational.
When you overcomplicate a process like this, you add extra steps that are completely unnecessary, giving you more opportunities to make mistakes.
Just take it low and slow.
One single reed call isn’t going to be enough.
Geese have more diverse and quacky calls than most ducks, and if you notice, their calls last for longer.
They’ll have longer quacks that can sometimes sound like an orchestra of geese when in reality it’s only five or so.
Goose calls are pretty sharp so that they can cut above this noise, and garner their attention.
However, you might find that a single reed isn’t going to attract them, which is why you should also have a double reed with you.
Geese are a bit more finicky than ducks, so you’ll have to have some patience in between calls to see what worked.
Use Motion Decoys
Motion decoys, or as they’re known as flappers for goose decoys, are extremely helpful to lure in geese that are flying overhead.
You’ll be able to attract more geese and keep their attention for longer.
Motion decoys aren’t cheap, though.
If you’re serious about investing in your goose hunting gear, this is definitely something you can justify, but it can cost a pretty penny.
Motion decoys certainly have their place, just be sure that you’re using stationary decoys as well.
Go When It’s Cold
When it gets cold, geese drop to the ground from their roost.
They huddle up, stick their bellies on the ground, and are basically motionless for quite some time.
They’re trying to hoard heat, and their instincts are kicking in to just warm up and survive.
That’s where you come in.
When it’s cold out, around 20° F or lower, you’re not going to see a lot of geese in the sky.
If you can see the forecast and it looks like it’ll be like this all day, your next step is to get a hunting app.
Look on your app for open fields and chart a course for them.
If you’re in an area in the midwest, you’re going to find a mix of geese going down south for the winter, and those who haven’t left yet. Easy pickings.
Just because geese land, it doesn’t mean it’s time to take aim and fire.
There’s nothing like sitting there for two hours before your prey comes along; it fills you up with this instinct to hunt right away.
Wait until they’re feeding, or just until they’re in a better position.
Have Your Diagrams Ready
You should be using an app to help you out with this, or at the very least, you should have a book of diagrams in your backpack at all times.
There are dozens of different spreads that could work, but if you don’t master them all, then you’re never going to know what works best for you.
It’s important to mix it up from time to time even if you hunt in the same field, as well.
When you prep to take the shot, you should know how far away the target is.
This is where a rangefinder would come in handy, but they can be quite pricey.
It’s much easier to get a rangefinder app and use your phone instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars on a laser rangefinder.
At distances of 75+ yards, a phone app will do the trick.
What Gear Do You Need For Goose Hunting?
You need a little bit of everything.
You should have the following:
- Camouflage Jacket
- Camouflage Pants
- Hunting Mask
- Camo Net (Optional)
- Heavy Duty Boots
- Waders (optional)
- Goose Decoys
- Shotgun (3 Shells)
There are some pieces of gear that are interchangeable, but in a nutshell, you should be covered from head to toe to remain concealed.
When Is Goose Hunting Season?
Goose hunting season generally runs from the middle of November up until the first week of February.
This is going to change depending on where you live since more rural states will have extended hunting seasons.
States with a blend of rural communities and large cities like Massachusetts can sometimes have confusing laws regarding hunting season.
If you weren’t aware, there is a daily bag limit on how many geese you can hunt.
More often than not, this is an entirely reasonable number that you won’t exceed.
Snow geese, for example, usually have a bag limit of 15, while mergansers will have a bag limit of 5. Honkers like cornfields.
Again, it all depends on your state and how hunting laws change over the course of the year, so be sure to check out your local resources for more information at the start of every season.
Can You Hunt Geese Without Decoys?
Yes, it is possible, but it’s harder when compared to using decoys.
If you’re concealed, patient, and you know where geese come down to drink or feed, then you could hunt them without full-body decoys.
You might be able to get two shots off before they get far enough away.
However, it’s not recommended.
Even if you only bring six goose decoys, it’s better to do that than show up and just hope that they’re going to be in the right spot.
Plant your decoys, pick a spot to sit, and give it some time.
Which Geese Should I Be On The Lookout For?
There are 2.7 million subspecies of geese, most of which fall underneath the blanket term Canada geese.
That’s what you’re going to be hunting most of the time.
However, depending on where you live, you might also be able to hunt bar-headed geese, lesser white-fronted geese, bean geese, swan geese, and greylags.
If you’re heading out to hunt, Canada geese are going to be what you’re looking for more often than not.
Ultimately, It’s Up To You
Canada goose hunting isn’t the hardest form of waterfowl hunting, but it isn’t the easiest.
Sticking to these tips and tricks will ensure a much smoother hunting experience, but it will also breed proper hunting etiquette amongst you and your party, even if that’s just your best friend that tags along each time.