Attention to the old saying, "location, location, location"—like this one in a zero-grade Arkansas rice field—can put moving geese into your decoy spread. Steve Hickoff photo
By Steve Hickoff
Your spread, defined by the way you set your decoys in front of your gunning position, is crucial to making that location all it can be. The key: set it up so that incoming geese—Canadas, snows and specklebellies—can pick an open spot to land.
Pick that open spot so that it’s in a shooting lane you desire.
FLIGHT PATHS: That spot has to be in the reliable path of geese that move from where they loaf at night to where they might feed in the morning. Places like pastures and even marshes qualify here. Zero-grade rice fields and possibly unfrozen river systems do too.
ALPHABET SPREADS: Terrain and traditional approach depending, some guys prefer a “C” spread of decoys, with the geese encouraged to land in the open area. For others, an “X” works, and gunners hide at the center of the set. Still others employ a “V” shape for their decoys, pointing that into the wind (weather depending). Others prefer the fishhook "J" way of putting out fakes.
RAGGED SETS: Sometimes you’ll need to set up ragged spreads to represent geese that have landed and are feeding comfortably—even though tight spreads might also suggest a concentrated food source. Know the difference.
NO-SPREAD STRATEGY: Some waterfowlers, boat-oriented guys, might simply establish themselves closer to that rafting location on the water, and intercept flying geese on the move, pass shooting from nearby blinds before birds get to the food source.
At times it’s pretty simple. You pick a location that’s somewhere between where geese rest at night (favored roosts, often on water), and where they feed (or might) by day. Your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side vehicle can help get you there.
Once in that spot, you establish a spread of decoys that will (or might) pull them out of the sky. You hide nearby (in shooting range of the fakes), and wait silently—or call to enhance the appeal of that location.
Slam dunk, right?