We've identified 3 common problems (and provided solutions) hunters are often faced with while hunting Early Goose Seasons.
Problem 1: Unable hunt the exact field the geese are using (Can't hunt the X)
Solution for Early Goose Season Problems: Early season geese are easily persuaded and “trafficable”. If you can’t find an “X” field that geese are currently using you can usually scratch out some geese just by getting between or insight of the roost and the field they have been feeding in. When not hunting the X, your tactics will need to change as compared to hunting right on the X. More aggressive calling, flagging, and decoying techniques need to be utilized to convince those birds to alter their normal flight path. If subtle calling doesn’t quickly change their minds to commit to your spread, don’t be afraid to call aggressively in the hopes to pique their curiosity and make sure everyone in the group has a flag going.
Problem 2: Geese consistently land short of the decoy spread or in random areas of the same field your set-up in.
Solution for Early Goose Season Problems: Observing the in-flight AND in-field behavior of waterfowl is essential in setting successful decoy spreads or making adjustments throughout your hunt. In the days or hours before your hunt, while scouting, pay close attention to even the smallest details of both, the landscape and the behavior of your intended prey. (We'll include a short-list of details to observe later in this article.)
To keep geese landing in your decoy spread, especially during early-season hunts, put extra emphasis on using the lay of the land to your advantage. Things like: contour and elevation changes in the field, field edges, structures nearby that could affect the flight path, i.e. Trees, Telephone Poles, Grain Bins, etc. and of course, pay extra close attention to the flight path and approach of the waterfowl using the field. Knowing which direction the birds will approach from and approximately where they have been landing in the field is a huge advantage. Use this knowledge to cut the chances for the birds to land short by setting up closer to the edge of the field on the side of the field they will enter from. By doing so you are essentially shortening the playing field they have to use and limiting the chances for them to land short.
- Which direction and at what elevation do the geese approach the field
- Bird count in flocks and interval time between flocks traveling from roost location to feed location
- Identifying landmarks in the field to help pinpoint exactly where the birds are at in the field will put you where they want to be and make it easier to spot the next morning in the dark when setting the spread
- Make note of where the birds land (start feeding) and where they meander to (stop feeding) before leaving back for their roost location.
- Tall structures that disrupt the flight path: Geese having to maneuver above or around structures can sometimes make it difficult for them to reach your spread if not considered
- Vocalization. How noisy are they? What sounds are they making?
- Goose to Goose interaction while feeding. Aggressive or complacent behaviors.
- Natural cover or breaks in the field that will offer a good hiding spot
Problem3: Approaching geese show interest, but won't fully commit.
Solution for Early Goose Season Problems: More times than not, this is related to the quality (or lack thereof) of your hide. Put more or all of your focus into the concealment of your blinds/hide and less emphasis on the shape of your decoy spread and/or goose-calling techniques. Remember 90-6-3 (Focus your attention to 90% Concealment / 6% Decoy Placement / 3% Calling & Flagging... and the remaining 1%? Well... that's just pure luck.) To aid with concealment, consider moving your position within the spread to take focus away from your blinds, try to find some form of structure/obstacle (grass, fence line, rocks, etc) to hide in or behind, or even try a different style of blind such as the Avery Outdoors® "Finisher Panel Blind" for a different look or hiding scenario.
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