Gone are the days when small groups of snow geese would readily decoy to Clorox bottles and white plastic trash bags. Soaring light-goose populations mean longer seasons, higher bag limits, and greater hunting opportunities. But more birds also mean up to eight months of hunting pressure, ever larger flocks, and more adult geese that have seen it all.
To snow today’s snows, hunters have to work a little harder and use increasingly sophisticated tactics. But it’s worth it. “When you bring in the mother lode, it’s an unbelievable sight,” says veteran waterfowler Dave Greenough, who hunts geese in the St. Lawrence River Valley of New York and Quebec. “It takes a good deal of effort, but there’s no other thrill like it in waterfowling.”
Here are 10 tips for bringing the mother lode into your spread:
(1) Form a partnership with at least two other hunters, to share the cost of decoys and the time spent setting them out.
(2) Scout right up until dark the day before your hunt. Thousands of snow geese can quickly pick a field clean, which means they might not return to the same field.
(3) Use as many hard-plastic, three-dimensional decoys as your budget and back can bear. Shells are okay, but the newer full-body decoys, such as those made by Flatland Decoys (www.flatlanddecoys.com), work best.
(4) Use silhouettes, wind socks, and rags to fill in your spreads, especially on windy, rainy days when they look most realistic, as well as during the early season when young geese are most abundant. ** (5)** Place wind socks and rags toward the upwind edge of your spread. If incoming geese flare, try removing the socks and rags.
** (6) **Use motion decoys. Kites, such as those made by Jackite (www.flyingdecoys.com), and flapping-wing decoys set on conduit poles, such as the Goose Magnet (www.trumotion.com), add alluring movement and depth to decoy spreads.
(7) Portable, well-camouflaged lay-down blinds, such as those made by Final Approach and Avery Outdoors (www.finalapproachblinds.com and www.averyoutdoors.com) keep you well hidden, dry, and mobile.
(8) If geese come in but break off out of range, move downwind of the decoys by 50 to 100 yards, so birds are overhead when they flare.
**(9) **When and where legal, use electronic calls, and reduce the volume as birds approach.
(10) Use large, hard-hitting shot. Hevi-Shot and Tungsten-Iron shells are worth every extra penny when taking shots to 40 yards and beyond.