Taking Advantage of New Goose Hunting Gear

February 13, 2009 by  

By Chris Hustad

(Fall 2004)

The Nodak Crew hard at work...

The Nodak Crew hard at work...

Well it’s that time of year again, fall preparation season. There’s 3 times a year that I can guarantee you’ll find me in a sporting goods store or searching the Net for gear; the spring “tackle box filler”, winter “jig bonanza” and at this time, “the fall essentials”. Okay, so most gear aren’t considered essentials. Technically, all you need to hunt in the fall is a license, gun or bow and ammunition…but let’s not kid ourselves. If you’re passionate about hunting, you’re going to pull out your wallet to increase your success in the field.

I’ve given up fighting my obsession for waterfowling and have resorted to giving in, better than crack I guess. I’m a hopeless fanatic in search of cupped wings, and I spend more time looking at feet in the fall than a podiatrist. Without a doubt, the game of waterfowling is changing fast. Either the outdoor gear and gadget companies are getting an A in marketing, or the birds are getting wiser; either way the average waterfowler is spending more money on his/her hobby than in the past. I’m going to say it’s a little bit of both, but that’s merely a generalization, as each hunting area is different. If you’re hunting in an area where you consistently shoot a lot of waterfowl without a large, realistic decoy spread, effective calling, and top-notch camouflaging; keep it a secret and consider yourself lucky! But for most, hunting pressure is increasing, competition is getting stiffer and well, hunters are getting better.

With that being said, there are plenty of new products entering the industry for the waterfowler. Some in my mind work, others are merely gimmicks. The following products I give 2 thumbs up as sleepers for the hardcore goose hunter. All of these are available in the Nodak Outdoors Pro Shop, and trust me that’s not by chance.
Farmland Camo

(left to right) Farmland Corn, Gold & Green

(left to right) Farmland Corn, Gold & Green

In the past couple decades, there are few tools that have revolutionized field hunting like the introduction of the laydown blind. And as much as I still love and use my blind, there’s still times where I leave them in the truck; situations such as hunting pea fields, blacktop fields, short grass or stubble fields to name a few. Getting as low as possible and removing the possibility of any shadow can effectively fool wise geese, as they’re getting trained to spotting laydown blinds. Heck, if you don’t use a blind than you especially know how important it is to conceal hunters.

There are problems I see with today’s camouflage for field hunters; they’re either made to match a marsh, not a field or they’re too dark (or a combo of both in most cases). How many times have you driven past a decoy spread in a stubble field and could easily spot the hunters. You can see they’re in camouflage, but they look MUCH, MUCH darker than their surroundings. This holds true for almost every camo pattern out today. They look great in the store, and seem to have the right color, but from afar they look like they were made for hunting out of a tree stand. That’s where Farmland Camo comes in. Although it’s been available for many years, it’s still waiting to be discovered by most waterfowlers. Whether you’re hunting bright stubble fields, cornfields or difficult to hide-in green grass fields, Farmland has a pattern for you. Okay, so you’re not quite ready to get rid of that $250 Quad jacket you bought last year…no problem. You can purchase overcoats & pants to pull over your favorite clothing. No matter how great your decoy spread or your calling is, you’re not going to consistently decoy wary birds if they can see you. Get an edge and start taking your concealment seriously with Farmland Camo.
Decoy Dancer

Decoy Dancer mounted on a custom painted Big Foot

Decoy Dancer mounted on a custom painted Big Foot

I  have a lot of confidence in my full body decoys. They are so very realistic and have fooled more birds than I could even attempt to count. Like all things in this world, full body decoys have a downside. They don’t move, and anyone who pays attention while scouting knows…most geese are usually on the move while feeding. Decoy shy geese need to be reminded that your decoys are real geese, and not made of plastic, and that’s where the Decoy Dancer comes in.

First off, I need to say that Decoy Dancer’s only currently work with Big Foot Decoys (I hear bases for the Greenhead Gear are coming for this fall). They fit over the base of the foot where it inserts into the body. With Decoy Dancers, they swivel easily and can simulate both horizontal and vertical movement from a goose. And whether it’s barely a breath of wind or up to 40+ mph gusts, they can be adjusted for the right amount of movement. For a good ratio, I recommend at least one or two decoy dancers for every dozen decoys. And most importantly put them where they’ll get noticed by approaching geese, on the edges of your spread or right off the landing zone. When birds become spooky, realistic movement can make the different between a goose flaring or committing.
Windlife Decoy Heads

Windlife head adjusted for around a 10 mph wind

Windlife head adjusted for around a 10 mph wind

Like the Decoy Dancer, Windlife Decoy Heads add realistic movement to your decoys. Windlife heads are a replacement head for your original Big Foot Decoys (not feeders). All Canada goose Windlife heads are now flocked, to again add even more realism outside of movement. The head position can easily be adjusted so you get the right amount of movement in any wind. In extreme light wind, you can slide out the head all the way to move from side to side. They are extremely light, so it doesn’t take much wind to create realistic movements. When the wind picks up or even gusts, you can slide the head position down to hold the head closer to the body to keep the amount of movement out of control. When geese are feeding, there’s always heads moving in the flock, and this is the best way to simulate that movement without any work or effort on your part. Trust me, they work!
Xterminator Blind

Blind setup after some hard use.

Blind setup after some hard use.Like I stated earlier, I’m an avid fan of laydown blinds. They make hunting situations more comfortable, and if you’re patient you can really make them disappear in most ground hunting situations by “stuffing” the blind straps accordingly. There are a lot of types and styles of blinds on the market today, and it seems like a new one comes out every month. There’s a wide assortment of great features available, such as: spring doors, flagging holes on the sides, face shields, excessive room for gear, comfortable seating, zipped foot base to clean out debris or use as a dog door, and the ability to fold into a backpack for portability to name a few. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as a perfect blind. With every blind comes a flaw, whether it’s too high profile (casting an unrealistic shadow on sunny days), too long to fit in most vehicles for transport (not portable), too hard to setup, has too many breakable parts, doesn’t have necessary flagging holes, too small, or uncomfortable. I’ve hunted out of 6 different blind models, and have owned 4 of them. Of course, depending on your situation some of these flaws might not matter to you, but more often than not some of them will apply to your blind and how it adapts to you.That’s where Gooseview comes in. In the spring of 2004, they came out with a Xterminator blind that combined all of the pros of the blind while eliminating the cons. Honestly, it’s about time as I’m sick of hauling around 4 blinds to match the hunting situation. The Xterminator is a backpack blind, that’s extremely light and easy to transport (folds down to only 4 inches tall!). It sets up easily, low profile, has a chiropractic approved backrest, spring-loaded doors, zipped foot base, storage compartments, but yet is roomy enough to not feel trapped. I used it for 10 long and grueling days during the spring snow goose season, and I have to say I was impressed. Not only was it comfortable for long hunting situations, but its low profile blended in well. The best part of the Xterminator is the price tag, coming in with a retail of just over $200! The bar was raised in 2004 in the laydown blind industry, and it’s good to see such great improvements available to goose hunters.Higdon FlapperHigdon Flapper being extended

While scouting, you probably notice that every so often a goose will stretch its wings. Today, there is a wide variety of flags available on the market and they are used by a lot of goose hunters. Flags do pose a potential problem though, they can at times be tough to use in close hunting situations. From long distances, they effectively catch the attention of a flock of geese but I don’t like to use hand flags when the geese are within 100 yards. While sticking your arm out and flagging to simulate a goose, you’re really drawing a lot of unneeded attention to you or your blind. You think you’re sealing the deal, but you’re really saying, “Here I am!” So in close hunting situations, it’s nice to still simulate a flag to help draw birds in, but yet have this movement well away from your blind. That’s where the Higdon Flapper is effective. The Flapper is a full body Higdon decoy, with wings attached that move via a pull-string. With a little setup, you can activate the wings from your position with a slight pull. No need to overdo it, 1-3 flaps of the wings can prove deadly to geese. At times this movement can be more effective than calling, as many waterfowlers know. Round out your realistic spread with a Higdon Flapper or two and you won’t regret it.

Hunting geese doesn’t always call for large, elaborate spreads or “high tech”, realistic decoys. But as the season draws on and geese get wiser to decoy spreads, drastic situations need drastic solutions. If you’re sick of being beat by other decoy spreads in your area, step it up and try some of the products mentioned. I’m not alone in saying these products really work.


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