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Q:
How do you tell a duck from a goose? This might sound stupid, but I need to now what I can and can't shoot.

Question by Chewylouie. Uploaded on December 15, 2012

Answers (21)

Top Rated
All Answers
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Blow hard just underneath its tailfeathers, then kiss it real quick. If you get feathers up your nose it is usually a goose.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matthew Matzek wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Do you mean like in the air?

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from Ncarl wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Dude! If you can't tell a goose from a duck you shouldn't be waterfowl hunting by yourself. They have bag limits! I doubt you know how to identify certain species of ducks so you risk shooting over your limit of a certain species. You should go with someone who knows what they are doing.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from habben97 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

geese are big. ducks are small.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I agree with Ncarl. With all due respect, if you're unsure of the game you're hunting, you should go along with a mentor, or at least do some research of videos, pics, and just going unarmed into the field with an illustrated field guide. No hunter should ever go afield w/o full knowledge of their prey and how to safely hunt them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

For the most part geese honk and ducks quack.

Follow advice from above and go with an experienced hunter. Other species are in the sky that you may encounter.
Hunt safe and hunt legal.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

When you are new at waterfoul hunting, it is common to have difficulty determining one species from another, especially when they are flying by at 75 mph. Of course the difference between ducks and geese is pretty apparrent after you study them. The distinctive body coloration and size will be pretty easy for you to recognize. They all make distinctive sounds too from the deep honk of Canada geese to the loud and challenging quack of a hen mallard.

I suggest getting online using google and wikipedia and study the various species of ducks and geese common to your area. You should know at least Canada geese, snow geese, blue geese and among the ducks: mallard, teal, pintail, gadwal and shoveler.

If necessary, print out a picture of each and go birdwatching. Go to a remote river area and watch for migrating flocks. Work to identify each species. Of course, as others have suggested, it is best to go with someone who has experience waterfoul hunting to show you the ropes.

Our two favorite species that account for about 90% of waterfoul hunting during the Fall migration are the Canada goose (they have a solid black neck over a light grey breast with a distintive white bib on their throat. They are easy to recognize in flight and if they appoach you to land, they look like B-52 bombers compared to ducks.

The other is the Mallard duck with a distinctive vibrant green head with a solid white ring around the base of the neck. If you hunt just these two species, you should get lots of action in most locales.

There is a lot to learn about this type of hunting and going with someone who knows will save you a lot of time in actually being successful. Waterfoul hunting is a LOT of fun, provides great food and is often the most accessible type of hunting available in that you can often hunt any old pond, a public waterway or stalk them. There are many different types of hunting available. Good luck!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ga hunter wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Geese are much larger than ducks and if you've ever seen the two fly it should be easy to tell. They fly differently too so if you can i would study how they fly. I agree with Ncarl! If you haven't ever been waterfowl hunting go with an experienced waterfowl hunter who knows what they're doing before going out alone. It's what I did and I learned a lot. I still enjoy hunting with this man too even though he was justing going to teach me how to hunt.

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from Ga hunter wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Geese are much larger than ducks and if you've ever seen the two fly it should be easy to tell. They fly differently too so if you can i would study how they fly. I agree with Ncarl! If you haven't ever been waterfowl hunting go with an experienced waterfowl hunter who knows what they're doing before going out alone. It's what I did and I learned a lot. I still enjoy hunting with this man too even though he was justing going to teach me how to hunt.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pathfinder1 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Hi...

I'll trust that you're not a college kid pulling a prank...!!

Around here we have a variety of ducks, plus Canada Geese. For the most part, wild ducks are smaller than a typical chicken (if that helps you).

Canada Geese...when compared side-by-side with ducks, are noticeably much larger....and also 'honk', and fly in flocks representing...more-or-less...a large, wavering letter 'V'.

I think that a quick google of them will also provide you with additional info.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Pathfinder1- What do you mean a college kid pulling a prank?! I have no intentions of pulling a prank. I'm not even in college yet.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

If you don't know the difference, then you shouldn't be hunting them. If you need to know the difference, go with someone who is experienced at identifying ducks and geese by flight pattern and calls. Not knowing is just setting yourself up for disaster, especially when the warden checks you.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I would prefer to hunt with someone that had experience, but everyone around here hunts deer, not ducks. I don't know a single person that duck hunts.

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from Pray- hunt-work wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Chewylouie- what state is around here?

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from Ncarl wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Chewylouie, Honestly if you dont have someone to go with and you cant tell a goose from a duck you will never manage to actually call and decoy birds close enough for a shot. Its very hard and instructional videos just dont cut it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Tell you a hard one out my way...a goose flying low in the fog, and those big, white swans that frequent the same areas flying low. I can see some guy busting one of those swans even though they are bigger, and have longer necks than a goose. But in all seriousness to this discussion, the poster has to do a lot of research on their own, not asking questions on a blog. Head for the park, spend time in the great outdoors. I taught waterfowl identification as part of a duck calling class, and everyone got an identifaction booklet..colored pictures of waterfowl. When you award points, when you are allowed only so many hen mallards, and you are done hunting for example, it behoves you to buy an ID pamphlet, and learn your waterfowl. And it isn't easy with little light, fog, etc. sitting in a blind, and having to do so. But worthwhile learning in its own right.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DEER30 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

only stupid question is the one that isn't asked.

I think these other guys covered it pretty well.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I'm from mississippi. I can determine (I'm pretty sure) ducks from geese. Canadian geese is mainly what I plan to hunt. I see lots of geese flying over, but hardly any ducks. Canadian geese is the easiest to hunt, as far as regulations go, and are also easy to identify. I saw a flock of them the other day, black neck, white stripe, gray brown body.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pray- hunt-work wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

You might try getting in touch with a local waterfowl guide during the off season. It may cost you a few dollars, but here in Maine, I'm sure that a guide would be more than happy to go over some waterfowl I.D. with you. And remember, God gave you two ears and one mouth so that you could listen twice as much as you talk. Soak it up, and you may even learn of a few local hot spots. Good luck, and don't lose hope. You may even teach some of the boys and gals on here something down the road!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I'd bet the Game Dept. has the same type of ID booklet that I handed out to my class. And I studyied that booklet hard. Very hard to ID some ducks apart. A hen mallard, and a Widgeon? There are some slight ID differences that you have to look for if it is needed. And again, low light makes it hard. When you can shoot 7 green heads, but you are done hunting when you have killed but 2 hen mallards. or, you shot two canvasback, or you shot 2 pintails, it behoves you to know your ducks! My game pamphlet has the waterfowl ID in it...not as quality of paper as the booklet I used, but it sure helps. Notice where one has its color, often times it is WHITE, and where the white is located on the duck making it different than another type of duck.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Targeting Canada geese is a good plan. Be forewarned that they are extremely smart and have about 50 times the vision of a human. At this late point in the season, the hunting season survivors are very wary. It is unlikely that a beginner will get close enough to them for a shot. However, it is always worth a try. If you are sitting and waiting for them on a river bank or feeding zone, you will have to be well camoflaged and make sure you have no car, boat, human structure or even a shotgun shell on the beach. If you do, they will not come close.

One suggestion for late season Canadians is to watch them land to feed and sneak up on them if you can. They are still jumpy but less so when they are happily feeding in big flocks. When they jump, they will head into the wind to quickly gain altitude so use that to your advantage. I've gotten a lot by sneaking to an upwind fence row and having a buddy approach them from downwind. When they jump, they may just fly right over your head for a nice shot.

The absolute best will be to plan next season. Study up on them and try to find a mentor. Start with watching local flocks that hatch in your area. Early season honkers are repetitive in time and location of their feeding in the fields. If you get out there before they arrive with a few good decoys, you can get them to give you a nice swing. Again, you must be invisible or you will never get close. Even early season gosslings learn fast.

During the first week of the 2012 season, my brothers got over 50 honkers from a corn field a mile north of town where locals had been feeding for weeks. They watched them for weeks before season and were ready on opening day. Pretty simple, get out early in the AM, sprinkle a few decoys and lay in the corn stalks with a camo canvas over you. When they approach, sit up and drop them.

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from Ncarl wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Dude! If you can't tell a goose from a duck you shouldn't be waterfowl hunting by yourself. They have bag limits! I doubt you know how to identify certain species of ducks so you risk shooting over your limit of a certain species. You should go with someone who knows what they are doing.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Blow hard just underneath its tailfeathers, then kiss it real quick. If you get feathers up your nose it is usually a goose.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I agree with Ncarl. With all due respect, if you're unsure of the game you're hunting, you should go along with a mentor, or at least do some research of videos, pics, and just going unarmed into the field with an illustrated field guide. No hunter should ever go afield w/o full knowledge of their prey and how to safely hunt them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

When you are new at waterfoul hunting, it is common to have difficulty determining one species from another, especially when they are flying by at 75 mph. Of course the difference between ducks and geese is pretty apparrent after you study them. The distinctive body coloration and size will be pretty easy for you to recognize. They all make distinctive sounds too from the deep honk of Canada geese to the loud and challenging quack of a hen mallard.

I suggest getting online using google and wikipedia and study the various species of ducks and geese common to your area. You should know at least Canada geese, snow geese, blue geese and among the ducks: mallard, teal, pintail, gadwal and shoveler.

If necessary, print out a picture of each and go birdwatching. Go to a remote river area and watch for migrating flocks. Work to identify each species. Of course, as others have suggested, it is best to go with someone who has experience waterfoul hunting to show you the ropes.

Our two favorite species that account for about 90% of waterfoul hunting during the Fall migration are the Canada goose (they have a solid black neck over a light grey breast with a distintive white bib on their throat. They are easy to recognize in flight and if they appoach you to land, they look like B-52 bombers compared to ducks.

The other is the Mallard duck with a distinctive vibrant green head with a solid white ring around the base of the neck. If you hunt just these two species, you should get lots of action in most locales.

There is a lot to learn about this type of hunting and going with someone who knows will save you a lot of time in actually being successful. Waterfoul hunting is a LOT of fun, provides great food and is often the most accessible type of hunting available in that you can often hunt any old pond, a public waterway or stalk them. There are many different types of hunting available. Good luck!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from habben97 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

geese are big. ducks are small.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

For the most part geese honk and ducks quack.

Follow advice from above and go with an experienced hunter. Other species are in the sky that you may encounter.
Hunt safe and hunt legal.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matthew Matzek wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Do you mean like in the air?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ga hunter wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Geese are much larger than ducks and if you've ever seen the two fly it should be easy to tell. They fly differently too so if you can i would study how they fly. I agree with Ncarl! If you haven't ever been waterfowl hunting go with an experienced waterfowl hunter who knows what they're doing before going out alone. It's what I did and I learned a lot. I still enjoy hunting with this man too even though he was justing going to teach me how to hunt.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ga hunter wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Geese are much larger than ducks and if you've ever seen the two fly it should be easy to tell. They fly differently too so if you can i would study how they fly. I agree with Ncarl! If you haven't ever been waterfowl hunting go with an experienced waterfowl hunter who knows what they're doing before going out alone. It's what I did and I learned a lot. I still enjoy hunting with this man too even though he was justing going to teach me how to hunt.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pathfinder1 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Hi...

I'll trust that you're not a college kid pulling a prank...!!

Around here we have a variety of ducks, plus Canada Geese. For the most part, wild ducks are smaller than a typical chicken (if that helps you).

Canada Geese...when compared side-by-side with ducks, are noticeably much larger....and also 'honk', and fly in flocks representing...more-or-less...a large, wavering letter 'V'.

I think that a quick google of them will also provide you with additional info.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Pathfinder1- What do you mean a college kid pulling a prank?! I have no intentions of pulling a prank. I'm not even in college yet.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

If you don't know the difference, then you shouldn't be hunting them. If you need to know the difference, go with someone who is experienced at identifying ducks and geese by flight pattern and calls. Not knowing is just setting yourself up for disaster, especially when the warden checks you.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I would prefer to hunt with someone that had experience, but everyone around here hunts deer, not ducks. I don't know a single person that duck hunts.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pray- hunt-work wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Chewylouie- what state is around here?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Chewylouie, Honestly if you dont have someone to go with and you cant tell a goose from a duck you will never manage to actually call and decoy birds close enough for a shot. Its very hard and instructional videos just dont cut it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Tell you a hard one out my way...a goose flying low in the fog, and those big, white swans that frequent the same areas flying low. I can see some guy busting one of those swans even though they are bigger, and have longer necks than a goose. But in all seriousness to this discussion, the poster has to do a lot of research on their own, not asking questions on a blog. Head for the park, spend time in the great outdoors. I taught waterfowl identification as part of a duck calling class, and everyone got an identifaction booklet..colored pictures of waterfowl. When you award points, when you are allowed only so many hen mallards, and you are done hunting for example, it behoves you to buy an ID pamphlet, and learn your waterfowl. And it isn't easy with little light, fog, etc. sitting in a blind, and having to do so. But worthwhile learning in its own right.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DEER30 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

only stupid question is the one that isn't asked.

I think these other guys covered it pretty well.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I'm from mississippi. I can determine (I'm pretty sure) ducks from geese. Canadian geese is mainly what I plan to hunt. I see lots of geese flying over, but hardly any ducks. Canadian geese is the easiest to hunt, as far as regulations go, and are also easy to identify. I saw a flock of them the other day, black neck, white stripe, gray brown body.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pray- hunt-work wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

You might try getting in touch with a local waterfowl guide during the off season. It may cost you a few dollars, but here in Maine, I'm sure that a guide would be more than happy to go over some waterfowl I.D. with you. And remember, God gave you two ears and one mouth so that you could listen twice as much as you talk. Soak it up, and you may even learn of a few local hot spots. Good luck, and don't lose hope. You may even teach some of the boys and gals on here something down the road!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I'd bet the Game Dept. has the same type of ID booklet that I handed out to my class. And I studyied that booklet hard. Very hard to ID some ducks apart. A hen mallard, and a Widgeon? There are some slight ID differences that you have to look for if it is needed. And again, low light makes it hard. When you can shoot 7 green heads, but you are done hunting when you have killed but 2 hen mallards. or, you shot two canvasback, or you shot 2 pintails, it behoves you to know your ducks! My game pamphlet has the waterfowl ID in it...not as quality of paper as the booklet I used, but it sure helps. Notice where one has its color, often times it is WHITE, and where the white is located on the duck making it different than another type of duck.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Targeting Canada geese is a good plan. Be forewarned that they are extremely smart and have about 50 times the vision of a human. At this late point in the season, the hunting season survivors are very wary. It is unlikely that a beginner will get close enough to them for a shot. However, it is always worth a try. If you are sitting and waiting for them on a river bank or feeding zone, you will have to be well camoflaged and make sure you have no car, boat, human structure or even a shotgun shell on the beach. If you do, they will not come close.

One suggestion for late season Canadians is to watch them land to feed and sneak up on them if you can. They are still jumpy but less so when they are happily feeding in big flocks. When they jump, they will head into the wind to quickly gain altitude so use that to your advantage. I've gotten a lot by sneaking to an upwind fence row and having a buddy approach them from downwind. When they jump, they may just fly right over your head for a nice shot.

The absolute best will be to plan next season. Study up on them and try to find a mentor. Start with watching local flocks that hatch in your area. Early season honkers are repetitive in time and location of their feeding in the fields. If you get out there before they arrive with a few good decoys, you can get them to give you a nice swing. Again, you must be invisible or you will never get close. Even early season gosslings learn fast.

During the first week of the 2012 season, my brothers got over 50 honkers from a corn field a mile north of town where locals had been feeding for weeks. They watched them for weeks before season and were ready on opening day. Pretty simple, get out early in the AM, sprinkle a few decoys and lay in the corn stalks with a camo canvas over you. When they approach, sit up and drop them.

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