Steve Hickoff took this adult Canada goose on a Maine hunt this season by employing a spread of a dozen decoys in a pasture setting. Hickoff photo
By Steve Hickoff
Like the realtor’s mantra, it’s "location, location, location" that will put geese into your December spread.
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 birds can pick an open spot to land. Pick that open spot so that it’s in a shooting lane you desire.
That spot has to be in the reliable path of geese that move from where they loaf at night (often on water where I hunt in New England), and where they might feed in the morning. Places like pastures and even marshes qualify here.
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.
Others still set up ragged spreads to represent geese that have landed and are feeding comfortably. Bunched up decoys suggest birds are frightened, something you want to avoid conveying. Some hunters, boat-oriented guys, simply establish themselves closer to that rafting location on the water, and intercept flying geese on the move.
Your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side vehicles can surely help move decoys in field situations, shells or full-bodied fakes that can number from a dozen to as many as 100+ in your spread.
In the end, it’s pretty simple. You pick a location that’s somewhere between where geese rest at night and where they feed (or might) by day. 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 spot.
Of course when I talk of “geese” here, I’m discussing the prominent Canada goose (not “Canadian” as it’s sometimes incorrectly called). Snow geese and white-fronted geese also figure into the picture around the country, but in more limited areas. They'll respond to these approaches too.
What’s a bit more complicated is making the decision as to how to cook your holiday goose.