Spring Snow Goose Decoy Tips (2003)

February 13, 2009 by  

By Chris Hustad

2007 Decoy Tips

If you plan to hunt in the spring, especially over decoys, there’s a lot of work involved compared to the fall. The following is a list of tips and tactics we use to make the whole experience a little easier.

–You don’t need a fat wallet to amass a nice decoy spread in the spring. With some extra effort you can turn some of your other unused decoys into effective snow goose decoys. Check out the articles on making northwinds and making floaters. For land spreads, we’ll use a corn field the vast majority of the time. Corn is one of their favorite foods for keep up their energy and fat reserves when migrating, and they’ll seek it out. If the cornfield is flooded, than you’re looking at an excellent location (with roosting possibilities). For water spreads, you’re seeking out a quality roosting location. Considering water spots come in all shapes in sizes, here’s a few things to keep in mind. Snow geese rarely leave themselves open to getting sneaked, they choose their roosts wisely. The simple rule I use when picking spots is, could I sneak my decoys if they were real geese??? With that being said, avoid sloughs with high vegatation, treelines, ditches running up to it and of course, far from roads. If the slough has quality feed around it such as corn, even better.

–Driving in the fields in the spring isn’t normally an option, but I’ve found a few experiences where it is possible. Pasture land dries out very fast, when everything else is under water. When I’m looking for flooded corn, I’ll look for any fields that are connected to pasture land in the flyway. I’ve been able to drive right next to our setup during these situations. A little extra scouting could save you a lot of trips hauling out decoys.

–If you plan on dragging out decoys, the sleds off your portable icehouse work great. Fill it to the brim and strap it down and you’d be surprised how easy this is to bring out your decoys and gear. GooseView has come out with a field shuttle, which is a field sled for situations in the spring. We can fit around 1000 windsocks in one and saves a lot of time setting up and taking down. Check out the Field Shuttle.

–Ecallers are a great tool in the spring. When we used to use tape players, we liked to use more than one, and use different tapes. Although don’t just use any tape, make sure it sounds like distinct goose sounds, not drawn out flocks in the background. I would keep the speaker in my hand and always aim it at the flock. They can’t hear it when the speaker is pointed in the other direction. Test it out and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve sinced customized my own ecaller, with an MP3 player (with remote), amp, and 4 30-watt speakers. The 4 speakers will allow me to aim in 4 different directions, and with the remote I can position the speakers where I want to, not just where our blinds are located. This will also help save my ears (I suggest ear plugs if you control the ecaller next to you). I also turn down the volume as they come down towards the decoys. DO NOT overlook this, I’m sold this makes a difference. As the volume decreases, try throwing in some grunts and murmurs on a hand call as well. If you’re using a tape or CD, don’t forget to always regulate the time remaining on each side of your tape or on each track of the CD. If a flock is 350 yards up, it takes a long time for them to circle down to 30 yards. If you’re running a 30-minute tape, make sure to rewind it after each flock (or change tracks via CD). The time and effort you put into the hunt shouldn’t be ruined by something as simple as the end of the tape. And you should always make sure your ecaller will be working during the whole hunt. There’s nothing worse than having a battery die on your ecaller when you’re in the middle of a hunt. I recommend carrying an extra battery. You can use the same battery for your ecaller as your sonar (Vexilar), underwater camera or RoboDuck.

–Don’t leave your waders at home! Some retrieves will require waders due to the amount of water. Some guys in our group wear their waders in the field to keep dry as well.

–Bring your snow goose call. We’ve found some good calling will help widen the vocabulary of the ecaller. It’s also a good time to practice your call. If you make mistakes,the ecaller will help drown out missed pitches.

–Be comfortable. Whether you’re using blinds, chairs or lying on the ground, get in a comfortable position. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes to bring a flock into shooting range. If you aren’t comfortable, you’ll find yourself shifting around which could spook the birds.

–DO NOT SHORT YOUR CONCEALMENT. Snow geese are getting very good at picking out hunters, and picking out blinds. We use strictly blinds, but just because you’re in one doesn’t mean your hidden (is your blind?). We’re going to be doing a lot of hunting over a mud flat this spring, and we’re going to smear our blinds as black as the surrounding flat. For more tips on concealing your blind, just out our article on blind tips.

–Be where the birds are! Sounds simple, but if you’re limited on your time to hunt it shouldn’t be spent waiting for the birds to show up. With the Internet, the guesswork is pretty much out of the equation. We amass reports from refuges, biologists, guides and hunters and they’re all located in the snow goose hunting forum.

As always, be careful not to shoot specklebellies. But just because they’re out of season, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat them like snows. Specs flaring from your decoys can flare snows. Specs landing in your decoys will bring in the birds better than any decoy. So for this reason, I treat all geese the same.

These are some simple solutions to minor problems while hunting in the spring. I hope you enjoy the spring as much as I do. If you have any further tips, tactics or questions, check out the snow goose hunting forum for more information.


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