By Mark Fike
I don’t have access to a large lease or huge agriculture fields that are magnets for geese. Given that I enjoy hunting geese but don’t have the funds to lease such swaths of farmland I had to either figure out a work-around to my problem or give up goose hunting altogether.
Luckily for me, I figured out a work-around. I had to hit the geese at the “pass.” The pass, in my case, is a location between their roosting site (usually water) and their feeding site—a large agriculture field. With today’s technology and online resources I am able to scout from home and cut way down on the legwork.
Geese are creatures of habit, but as with all creatures, they are driven by their belly or rather their need for food. I found that by looking at satellite views, online GIS records, or more easily onX Hunt, I could see who owned various properties that were between the water and the large farm fields.
If you can get permission to hunt a large farm field, more power to you. The problem with hunting a large farm field includes the cost to lease such a field and the fact that the birds can decide on any given day that they will go to this end or that end of the field on a whim and they will do so, often settling in well out of range unless your spread is huge and enticing.
My daughter and I have found that by finding a few small farm fields that are between roosting and feeding areas, we can often entice some birds to come on down and visit for an extended stay that includes space in our freezer.
The trick is to find out which way the geese typically travel and figure out if there are fields between their start and stops. Then find out who owns the land. onX Hunt can provide that. Often small farms are much easier to gain permission to hunt than large farms. Small farms don’t want to lose crops and the farmers we have spoken with HATE the geese eating up their beans or messing up their fields.
While the geese will be on a mission to get to the big field, if your setup has a dozen or two decoys and you have them set up well and in plain view as the flock goes over, they may stop short to come get food there vs. competing with thousands of geese in a large field up the road.
As soon as the geese appear on the horizon start calling and keep calling until they are looking interested and then cut back your calling a bit to just chatter some to keep them thinking the flock is contentedly eating up the food.
It is important to have some motion in your flock to make it seem very real. You won’t need 100 decoys but you want it as perfect as you can get it. Keep your blinds as low as possible to the dirt, camo them up really well and have the decoys facing mostly into the wind if possible with a few facing other directions. It is important to have various poses in the setup too.
The geese flying above have to be sure it is worth them stopping in for a feed. Wait until they are well in range before popping out to shoot. If you hit the field again soon, be sure to set up in a slightly different area of the field to keep it looking fresh and interesting. Change up the shape of your decoy spread and don’t allow the geese to be conditioned to flaring from the field because yesterday they got shot at from the same setup.
This season, don’t overlook the smaller fields. Geese are easier to draw into those fields and the places they can put down are limited, putting them in range of your gun and into your freezer!