By Mark Fike
Christmas is nearly here as I write this and while this article is not really for a Christmas gear list, it could be used as such if you have an avid waterfowler that is close to you that you want to treat.
Over the past few years, I have had the honor and pleasure of learning a lot about waterfowl hunting from a local master hunter named Steve Purks. This man is self-taught and could call a goose or duck out of the supermarket freezer to land in your spread.
That said, he has helped me learn a lot about waterfowl hunting gear far beyond what I have picked up along the way of nearly 4 decades of off and on waterfowl hunting. Using that knowledge and observation, I am able to heartily recommend four products to help you end your season with a serious bang when sometimes the going can be tough out there.
Tim Grounds OverHauler goose call and call training software
I have owned a lot of goose and duck calls over the years. Some are junk right out of the package to include some well-known names. Some are hard to master and some cost a bit of money. I decided after years of using calls that worked sometimes but not all the time, I was going to do it right. So, two seasons ago I started watching other goose hunters that were great callers, to include our master goose hunting friend, and I examined the calls they were using. After some time of doing this, it was an easy decision for me.
Steve Purks knew the late, great Tim Grounds, and always had great things to say about the man and his products and the conversations they had. Steve very unselfishly gives of his time to women’s hunts, youth hunts, and new hunters, and he always seems to have a Tim Grounds call on his lanyard. So, I gave the Tim Grounds Company a call and was surprised when Hunter Grounds, Tim’s son, answered the phone. I was able to spend quite a bit of time on the phone getting a good, free education about goose calling and selecting calls. At the end of our conversation I purchased their Call Training Software, Conquer the Call. I also purchased The OverHauler goose call in black.
The software loaded up on my computer from start to finish in 8 minutes flat and my computer is not exactly lightning fast either. The tutorial is EXCELLENT and the system comes with a flash drive with the program and a microphone to use that plugs into your USB.
This call training software is AMAZING. I am not kidding. Previously, I was stuck and my calling was NOT progressing. This system walks you through everything with video and audio and you can call back through the microphone with your tutor and the software grades you and you can see visually where you need to be.
The call itself, the OverHauler, is the REAL deal. I have never had such an easy call to use for goose hunting. The first time out of the box before I even used the software I sounded so much better. These calls are hand-tuned before you get them and I can see why Steve Purks uses them. Getting a Tim Grounds call means you are investing in an American made product with down-home pride and customer service. You cannot go wrong with these two products.
The customer service is as small-town as you can get. It is friendly, personable and honest, the company won’t pressure you to get something you don’t want or cannot afford. They will be straight with you. https://www.timgrounds.com/
Stoeger M3500 Waterfowler Special
I am a fan of pump guns, so it takes a LOT to sell me on a semiauto. Waterfowlers use their guns in the absolute worst of conditions. Knowing I had to, at some point, break down and use a semiauto, I finally decided on a working man’s gun. The Stoeger 3500 has a 28-inch barrel with a Cerakote Flat Dark Earth finish. The gun I am testing is in Realtree Max 5 and handles anything I feed it from 2 ¾ to 3 ½ inch.
I have run the gun through all those loads (hundreds thus far) with but one hiccup that I honestly think was operator error on my part. I was still getting used to the loading sequence when I had the gun go “click” because no shell was chambered. Again, most certainly my fault. Every other shell sent shot downrange and the gun has loaded and cycled flawlessly.
For semi fans, the inertia driven system is more reliable and will keep going longer than gas-operated guns and the action is far simpler too.
Pros—Loading and unloading is pretty easy with the oversized bolt handle. I love it. I can load with gloves on with no problem. That helps when in a layout blind. I love the finish on the gun. I use it in briny water situations and sloppy conditions. It has not shown any sign of rusting while the other blued or parkerized guns I have rust the first trip out.
The gun is balanced and swings easily. It feels natural. The vent rib is perfect and if you want to use this gun for spring turkey, it is drilled and tapped for a scope. A paracord sling that makes comfy carry is included and a nice addition.
I hate to say it but this gun may replace my favorite pump gun in the goose field and in duck blinds. I really like the way this gun just goes to the shoulder and my eyes go right to the sight. It fits me well and it does the job every time.
I don’t have thousands to spend on a gun when I am out to have fun and get some geese, doves, ducks or turkey for our freezer. I just want something that works well in all situations and brings the meat down cleanly. This gun does that without requiring a loan from the bank. I am not afraid to use it either! https://www.stoegerindustries.com/m3500-shotgun
When I am shooting geese this season I will be using HEVI X Tungsten. Last year I watched my goose hunting mentor nail geese that just dropped stone cold dead at ranges I don’t normally see geese just fall like rocks. Granted, when he pulls the trigger, things tend to get dead real quick. The quality loads definitely help. I know because they helped me!
While I am not advocating or saying these shells will kill geese all the time at 70 yards no matter what, I am saying that I like my birds well done—DEAD. I hate cripples and feel it is disrespectful to hurt an animal unnecessarily.
These shells do the job at normal ranges and then some. The patterns are tighter and the payload on target smacks much harder it seems from my experience watching the birds drop. I am a fan of HEVI SHOT anyway, but these are my new favorite. If I run out of these shells you don’t want to hunt with me. I will be pretty grumpy. HEVI X Tungsten come in a variety of shot sizes in 12, 20 and 28 gauge. https://www.hevishot.com/catalog/hevi-x/
Lucky Duck Super Goose Flapper HDi
When the season gets well underway, the birds remaining are NOT dumb. You have to be very careful about your setup. You also need to have something different from all the other setups. Movement, lifelike movement, is key.
Last season we hunted with our goose hunting pro a bunch of times and he had a lifelike goose flapper. It works wonders. While a flag will certainly turn flocks that are passing by, the Super Goose Flapper will bring down even the more wary birds because you can control it with a remote from within your blind. There are five-speed settings on the flapper too.
We have seen geese that seemed to be passing us by that came right back around because of the flapper providing movement. This is particularly true on days when our decoys are slightly shifting in a light breeze to round out that effect.
The lithium-ion battery is long-lasting in cold weather and the decoy itself is very realistic. Putting one of these out in your spread keeps the focus on your spread and not your layout. If you need, get two of them to really liven things up and make it real.
Putting it together after the first time is easy and the carry bag makes it quite easy to carry into the field. For those times when you need to cinch the deal, the Lucky Duck Super Goose Flapper is worth the money. Ours is not that old, but I am convinced it will get a lot of seasons under its wings as long as we take care of it. Just be sure your guests know that the Lucky Duck Flapper is a decoy NOT a goose!
This month, when you are contemplating what gear you might spend some money on for your waterfowl trips, I would highly recommend these four products.