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Canada Goose Season Open, As Well
Part of what I enjoy most about being retired is being able to participate in hunting seasons whenever I feel like it. I like deer hunting, but like my father and my brother, waterfowl hunting is number one with the Foxes. As the season approached, I could hardly wait to get back in the blind and while it was still too warm for opening weekend I looked forward to hunting local geese. I had no idea going into the season what was going to be tossed my way, so let’s begin at the beginning.
About two weeks before the duck season opener I got a pinched nerve in my left arm making my left hand about 75% useless. I have been to the doctor, so hopefully we have a plan. The regular Canada Goose season opened on November 11th and I longed to chase honkers, but alas that was not meant to be either, you see they have this thing called COVID-19 and I chilled for five nights which meant getting out into the duck blind was a very slim possibility. But I think I have the worst behind me now, at least I pray I have the worst behind me now.
I like the regular duck season, but there is something special about hunting Canada Geese. When I was a kid the thought of taking a Canada Goose had about the same possibility as taking a water buffalo in Missouri. Things have improved since those days and there are local populations almost everywhere including golf courses, farm ponds, and lakes. Part of what I enjoy about geese is the fact that they are vocal and you might hear them coming into your lake from a half mile away. The other thing I enjoy about hunting geese is that, like with ducks, I enjoy messing with the decoys.
In the past I have field hunted for geese and while that is fun I enjoy taking them over water. Here is my typical goose spread: I start out with diver ducks to the far left, the pocket in front of the blind consists of mallard decoys and then to my far right I will have anywhere from nine to fifteen floating Canada Goose decoys. If the water is low enough, then I will also have some full body goose decoys standing along the shore. I do not depend upon the geese to land in the decoys, but rather to make a pass within range, and that is usually how it works.
Let me give you an example of one of my favorite goose hunts. We had got into a few ducks that morning, but as is typical the later the morning got the lake became empty of ducks. We were starting to think about packing it up when Mark Arnold said, “Hey guys, if you want to take some geese there are some entering the far end of the lake right now.” At the time it seemed like a funny question to ask- why would we not want to take some geese? The geese were coming out of the east end of the lake and although they were a long ways away it was apparent they were heading our direction. We settled back into the blind and began calling. Geese respond almost as poorly as kids do, so when they do respond you are often shocked and surprised, but low and behold these geese began answering us. While not all twenty geese headed our way they did spread out enough that some of the geese would be within range of our blind. We continued to call and the seven or eight geese closest to us began working their way toward our decoys. While this was going on the hunters in the blind quickly unloaded their shotguns of the duck loads and began loading their guns up with 3 ½ inch magnums. As it became apparent the geese would swing by our decoys, the excitement was building in the blind. At perhaps thirty yards, we pushed the panels down that add to our concealment and someone gave the words “Take em’.” It literally rained geese. I do not know how many we took, but at least six or seven.
It is hard to believe that we take geese on a somewhat regular basis now. I say hard to believe because when I was a teenager we would go to Swan Lake or Fountain Grove and stand in line to draw a blind for the opportunity to hunt geese. Now we hunt them at home. Aside from hunting geese over the water, field hunting is also very successful. You are not going to be successful in the field taking two dozen full body goose decoys, but no one starts out with seven or eight dozen full body goose decoys. It is a work in progress, so you look for sales on goose decoys to add to your spread. The easy thing about field hunting is it is easy to scout where the geese are feeding. You can even narrow the time down as to when they leave the roost and head out to feed. Once you have their feeding area pin pointed give yourself enough time to get your decoys out before the geese arrive. I like to have my decoys broken up into family groups with seven or eight geese in a group. With this style of hunting, you will need to have a lay out blind with decoys scattered around the blind. Like all waterfowl hunting, the geese will approach the decoy spread into the wind, so you can have the main body behind your layout blind and take the geese as they approach the decoy spread. I don’t know how smart Canada Geese are, but I do know they do not hire them to work security at the airport because sometimes they make good decisions and sometimes they make bad decisions. Your job as a hunter is to fool them into thinking your decoy spread is the real thing, so it is imperative to have your decoy spread to look as real as possible by having a mixture of decoy positions such as feeders, sentries, and even sleepers.
One of the best spreads I ever put out was on a picked corn field that surrounded a small farm pond. That decoy spread had everything including floating decoys in the farm pond, sleeping geese on the bank and then feeders and sentries in the corn field. It looked so natural that the geese could not resist the spread. Making a realistic decoy spread, as well as being able to conceal yourself is another one of those things that draws me to Canada goose hunting.
I know that the day is coming that I and my COVID Curse will be separated and I look forward to getting back in my duck blind with the same anticipation as a school boy has with Christmas vacation. Until then, I will just have to be happy with thinking about hunting.