Game Plan: Flight Line Ambush

How to bring flaring geese right to your gun

Ambushing geese in a field

Ambushing geese in a field

Steve Sanford

When flock after flock of late-season birds flare out of range instead of coming into your goose spread, it's time to make a change-in both your location and setup. One excellent tactic is to hunt the birds' flight lines between roosting and feeding areas, instead of setting up decoys and blinds in a specific area within a feeding field.

The first step is to get in your truck and use binoculars to learn the birds' typical flight lines-that is, their in-air routes from Point A to Point B. Once you've determined these, find a nearby field with some type of edge cover, such as a fenceline or hedgerow capable of serving as a natural blind. Ideally, you'll discover more than one flight line, and you'll also find several pieces of viable cover along each of them. Mark your findings on a simple hand-drawn map, which you can refer to later.

When the day of your hunt arrives, choose the edge cover where you plan to lie in wait; then set out only six to eight decoys in the field 75 yards or more upwind of that spot. It's important to use the most realistic dekes you have (preferably full bodies) and for them to be highly visible, which typically means setting them up on a small hump or knoll in the field. Once the birds start flying, both calling and flagging can be effective in drawing attention to your small decoy spread.

The goal here is not to get geese to land in your decoys. Your past frustrating hunts have already proved the futility of that. Instead, you want them simply to come and take a look at your spread. As the geese approach from the downwind side, you'll be in position to intercept them before they flare.

One great advantage of this tactic is that it's so mobile. If your shooting causes the birds to alter their flight pattern, for example, you can easily pick up your small spread and either move with the birds or refer to your scouting map and hunt a different flight line. Potentially, you can be into geese all day long.