Why I Decoy Hunt?

March 24, 2009 by  

By Perry Thorvig

There has been a lot written about the tactics needed to shoot snow geese. There are decoyers, sneakers, pushers and pass-shooters. We will see all kinds this spring as we look for opportunities to thin the population of snow geese. They may all have their place. I am one of the old school that enjoys shooting geese over decoys even though it may be getting more difficult. Here are some of the reasons why I decoy hunt.


I enjoy the peace and quiet of sitting in the decoys.
There are times when a guy just has to get away from it all. There is no better place than sitting in a decoy spread waiting for snows to make a pass. I watch the clouds and decipher shapes just like I did as a kid. My ear is always tuned to the frequency of a lone goose looking for companionship. However, sitting in the decoys is not always quiet. There is, of course, the roar of the flock. This is acceptable because I usually get a chance to quiet a few members of the flock. On the other hand, the constant chatter of nearby sandhill cranes, especially near the Platte River in Nebraska, drives me nuts. You can’t shoot at em and they keep you from napping.

 I can take a nap if I am sleepy.

Sometimes, it is so quiet that the fact that you got up at 4:00 a.m. begins to make your eyelids pretty heavy. I never look at a quiet time in the decoys as “boring.” It is just an opportunity to catch 40 winks that will help you through the tedious chore of scouting in the afternoon. I have never fallen asleep to the point that I don’t hear the squawk of a goose approaching our decoy spread. But, I know that my brother in law, Ken has missed some point blank shots on mallards because he has been napping.

I enjoy the coyotes yelping in the distance as we are setting up decoys in pitch-blackness.

When they start yelping at o’dark thirty, it sounds like they are standing in the fence line watching me set out decoys. I keep an eye on my flanks half expecting one to dart out and try to get me or my decoys. The piercing yelp is one that reminds me of the old days and that, despite our modern conveniences, we still have the old coyotes around. They have their place in nature. It would be too bad if they were destroyed.

It’s fun to see the fox run along the edge of the decoys checking us out.
I don’t have much love for foxes though. Maybe they help control the field mice. But, they also eat duck eggs and destroy nests. It gives me great pleasure knowing that they have been fooled and have wasted their time stalking decoys that they think are the real things. “Too bad boys. Go somewhere else!”

I have turned around and seen a half dozen antelope that have sneaked up on us from behind and are grazing upwind of the decoy spread.
How about the time we popped up from our ground camo and discovered six antelope contentedly grazing in the early morning sunshine? Obviously, we weren’t discharging our shotguns at any waterfowl or the antelope would not be there. It was a pretty quiet morning. But the unexpected appearance of the antelope sure made the experience worthwhile that morning. You won’t get close to these guys if you are stomping all over the countryside chasing geese.

I can talk to the dog lying next to me and scratch him behind the ears when there is not much else going on.

Maybe one of the greatest pleasures of decoy hunting is the opportunity to be really close to your favorite hunting companion. Old Kirby, will lie right beside me and keep me warm. He will often face me rather than downwind. When he does that, I can watch his eyes to see where the birds are when they are behind me. Nothing, beats watching him retrieve a bird shot from our decoy spread.

I only have to ask permission to hunt once or twice until we get a good field to hunt. When sneaking, the hunter is running around madly all day long.
This idea of racing all over the countryside chasing geese is crazy! That’s no way to hunt. I save money on gas by not driving around all day. I do drive a lot in the evening and get permission to hunt. But, it usually only takes one or two inquiries to get permission. I am not bugging the hell out of local farmers who might not appreciate all the traffic on their gravel driveways.

I am not strong enough or inclined to crawl on my belly for a quarter mile or more just to get one or two shots.
Hey, I have to admit this guys. I’m too old to be crawling on all fours to sneak some geese. That’s too much work. Eating dust in a road ditch isn’t my idea of hunting either. Nor is getting soaked and muddy. I’ve fouled enough guns with mud just sitting in my blind much less dragging them in the mud. I don’t think it’s real safe either.

It isn’t very personally gratifying to shoot into a flock and see what drops.
So you have crawled up on a flock of geese. All you have to do is rise up and ground pound the whole flock. You shoot. How do you tell a good shot from a bad shot? You can’t. There is no real skill in the shot. You are just lucky or you aren’t. Besides that, you can wound a whole lot of other ducks and Canada geese when you flock shoot or ground pound. You see, it’s just wouldn’t be that gratifying.

It’s fun to razz and be razzed by my hunting partners for missing some pretty easy shots.

Who has bragging rights when three guys unload 15 shots at a spooked flock? You can’t tell who got what or who missed what. It’s a lot more fun to alternate shots or at least know who is doing what. I know what a triple means and I also know what it means to miss one at 25 yards. That’s part of the fun. Chasing geese for 45 minutes after a ground pound? Not for me, thanks.


I have been hunting snow geese for 25 years and have assembled a good set of decoys, trailer, and blinds.
I have paid my dues in the form of a lot of equipment. A little analogy might help explain the situation. You can’t play goalie without spending a lot of money for equipment. Try it sometime! That gear may cost you $1500 bucks. The same is true for snow goose hunting. If you want to play the decoy game you have to be committed and assemble your spread over several years. I have my decoys now and can sit in them whenever I like, which is most of the time.

I don’t want to screw up a hunt for somebody else by sneaking geese and making them more wary or chasing them out of an area.
How many times have you read about guys sneaking the roost and blowing the birds out of the county? Or if you are sneaking a flock, somebody else does likewise and messes up your sneak. I just don’t want to do that to other hunters or make the birds so jumpy that nobody has a chance to shoot a few.

It’s fun dropping birds from right overhead and having them fall on top of you.
I’ll bet the pass shooters enjoy that too. That’s a real challenge if the birds are up there a ways. There is nothing like sucking in those geese to the point where you try to see who can drop one closest to the blind. That’s a lot more fun than winging one going away at 65 yards or ground pounding fifty of them at one time. It’s really fun to be right under the “tornado” as it is spinning down.

It is fun to see a flock of a half dozen birds turn over on their backs and spill air as they are really fooled and come sweeping into the decoys.

You can’t appreciate this wonderful site when you are sneaking birds or even pass shooting them. Those birds that flip over seem to double their speed as they spill air. And the acrobatics makes for some erratic flight and incredible skill necessary to down one of these guys.
It’s even sort of fun to just lie there and watch thousands of geese fly right on by — if I have already got a few.


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