The geese were located three days ago, feeding heavily in a freshly cut corn field a few miles from town. Permission was secured to hunt the field and plans were made for an eventful opening day. The decoys were set just right and blinds well brushed before dawn. As the sun crested the horizon the first faint calls of Canadas leaving the roost could be heard. Excitement building, patience is tested to wait for geese floating in on cupped wings. There they are, a ragged bunch of fifteen geese flying low on the horizon. Flags are waved and calls are delivered in an effort to lead them to the decoys. But as the geese close the distance, they suddenly head north and east to another field across the road. As the sun climbs the remaining birds leave the roost and head for the same spot as pleading calls fall on deaf ears. Disappointed, you pick up the gear early and plan to scout that afternoon to try and intercept the birds tomorrow.
What happened? As is often the case in the early season, the geese moved to fresh ground. Here are some tips to keep this hunt from happening and what to do when the right spot is located.
1) Find small wetlands– At this point the birds are not going to be holding in large numbers on large waters. What you need to look for is clusters of small wetlands with fields close by. Resident Canadas will usually be found in family groups dispersed throughout these smaller ponds and sloughs and will feed out from there.
2) Scout immediately before the hunt– If at all possible scout feeding fields, roosting areas, and resting areas the day before a hunt. Half the battle is finding the latest fields harvested.
3) Find the pattern- Geese may also be using one field in the morning and another in the afternoon. Patterning the birds will put you in the right location. Watch them the evening before the hunt and set up exactly where they were feeding before returning to roost.
4) Traffic is not a bad thing– If you don’t have access to the primary feeding field, don’t despair. Setting up in the flight line the birds are using and running “traffic” is effective, just be certain which route the birds are flying between roosting and feeding.
5) It’s the 21st century– Using a tool such as Google Earth cuts your time and fuel consumption spent on scouting at least in half. Scattered wetlands are easy to find on the map. Travel the surrounding area while keeping a sharp eye on farming activity. The geese will be broken up into small groups and feeding in the freshly cut fields.