Early-Season Waterfowl Hunting Is Just Around The Corner
In just a few weeks, Sept. I will be here and local hunters will be heading to the field, ponds and swamps for our early-season waterfowl. From the looks of local cornfields it the 2013 early season looks promising.
From scouting to calling to blinds, early-season goose hunters need to understand these flying critters from the north.
Understanding why geese hit one field and not another, then knowing where they are going and when they are going to be there and how to get them to set their landing gear in your spread is a life-long passion.
When looking for felids to hunt, I prefer areas close to water were birds are spending their evenings or roosting. These fields need not to be right on top of the roosting areas, but I like to get as close to possible to the roosting areas.
We hunt several areas that are located so close that we can hear birds as the lift off in the morning. These are great during the first few days, but they go dry soon.
Getting set up in the pre-dawn hours needs to be done very quietly. As the season goes on, geese will get wise to the sounds of truck doors closing and the banging of decoys. This often is all it will take to have these birds fly over your spread. If you set up close to roosting areas or water when the first group lifts off and shoot at them, the next group that lifts off figures out quickly that they don’t want to come to your spread.
Geese are smarter than we give them credit for. During the first couple years of the early season, decoy spreads were insanely simple but today there are more ways to place your decoys then geese in the sky.
The first rule of thumb to remember geese will generally land into the wind, hence we need to set-up accordingly. I prefer setting up small family groups with our blinds in the middle of the sets. A good rule is to have decoys for several small family groups-four to decoys-and placing them in U or J format.
Place your hunters on the outside of the closed area of the U or J, letting the open areas of the U and the V act as landing zone.
Geese like to land in the middle of the family groups and then feed their way in their own family groups/outside the landing zone. Having proper knowledge of how to set up your decoys will do more for success then anything.
Each year I spend hours before the season watching geese land in fields and on the water and how they communicate with each other. There is nothing like first-hand experience before the season begins. I have learned more by just sitting back and watching birds in their natural undisturbed states than from any hunting video.
Once you have your spread set- up it’s time to place your hunters. Over years of guiding hunters there are many things I have learned, but the one that is most important is that if you tell a hunter not to look up when birds are on their way into spread, the hunters will look up. It doesn’t matter how many years they have hunting or how many birds they have killed, they will with a doubt look up as soon as you tell them not to.
With that in mind, I figured out the best to keep birds from flaring is to keep my hunters well hidden. That is a difficult task when you are laying in the middle of a freshly-cut field with no cover around.
One of the best, and in my option the only, way to keep hunter hidden is the use of portable blinds. Placing your hunters in ground blinds is one of the best ways to conceal their movement and not scare off the birds.
Spending a little extra and getting a good quality decoys and blinds is well worth it. Today’s geese are much pickier than birds of the past and quality equipment will help make your day in the field much more enjoyable.