Scouting is a crucial aspect of waterfowl hunting, particularly when it comes to pursuing geese. Understanding the significance of scouting before the season begins is essential for maximizing your chances of a successful hunt. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore proven techniques and expert advice on how to scout for geese effectively.
The Art of Scouting
Scouting is vital for goose hunting– it allows you to gather valuable information about geese and their patterns. By scouting, you can identify prime locations for setting up blinds and decoys, increasing your chances of enticing geese within shooting range. Unfortunately, many of us struggle with scouting, making common mistakes that hinder our success. However, with the right techniques and knowledge, you can elevate your scouting game and improve your overall hunting experience.
How to Scout for Ducks and Geese
Start with researching the potential habitat through maps or GPS. You’re looking for standing water or a slow-flowing river. Lakes, ponds, marsh, wetlands, and rivers are often your best bet. Try to be observant for a mix of different water depths. Once you have a decent number of potential places through the lay of the land, you’ll want to go check them out yourself.
By this point, you’re looking for a couple of potential positions:
How To Spot Roosts
You’ll need to do this through pre-season and in season, but the best option is obviously check to see where geese tend to sleep. You don’t want to disturb these areas as you can cause the whole flock to up and leave. You need a local area that they can return to safely. Otherwise, those bodies of water are key. Anywhere that a decent sized flock can gather on the water without floating away is a good bet, but be on the lookout in pre-season where groups tend to prefer.
Generally these are smaller waters where ducks and geese like to hang about. Farm ponds and spotty wetlands are what you’re looking for. You’ll need to slowly find the difference between the loafing areas and roosts and make note of the differences in the area.
Finding Feeding Areas
The main way to check is to look for wild grains, weeds, berries and grasses. If you’re hunting on your own property or someone else’s, then you can expect there to be a few places they’ve already planted some form of millet in prime locations to make it easier to hunt in the area. If you find the food source, you’ll find the ducks. It’s best to read up learn to identify some of the wild plants in your area or where you’re planning to hunt. Thicker clusters of wild grains can turn into their own honeypot if properly set up.
Utilizing Binoculars and Spotting Scopes
Getting vision on the flock and where they go without spooking them is essential. In order to do that, you’ll want the right pair of binoculars or a good scope. Most folks swear by binoculars on a tripod because when you start getting to 9, 10, or 12x magnification any amount of shake in your hands are going to do nothing to help you and probably just leave you dizzy. Other than less often spooking or disturbing the loafing and feeding areas you’re trying to mark out, they can also save you a lot of time walking. It’s less work and prevents that time being eaten up when you could get more scouting done in the same amount time.
Set Up Around Flight Lines
Pass-shooting, often misunderstood and unfairly criticized, can actually be a highly effective and ethical hunting technique when executed with common sense and respect for the birds. However, when done responsibly, pass-shooting can yield lethal results.
A key aspect of successful pass-shooting is identifying the flight lines that geese take to and from their roosts or feeding areas. By carefully observing their movements, you can determine the paths they follow and position yourself accordingly for intercepting their flights. Setting up near cover along these established flight lines can increase your chances of encountering geese within shooting range.
Even when not pass-shooting, identifying these flight lines and checking them when hunting can help you know where geese are soon going to be– and if they’re all going back to roost.
Check With Your Local Register If You’re Hunting Late
The late-season goose hunts pose their own unique set of challenges, but there are ways to tackle them successfully. One way is to get insights from your local Register. You’d be surprised what you might find that can help. Another critical strategy for effective late-season scouting is to pay attention to the birds' behaviour and environment changes as winter progresses. This can help you adapt your hunting strategy accordingly.
Decoy Placement and Setup Strategies
Decoy placement is a critical element in goose hunting, as it directly influences how geese approach your hunting area. To maximize your chances of success, consider the following strategies:
Realism Matters: Use high-quality decoys that accurately replicate the appearance of live geese. Mix in different postures, species, and sizes to create a natural and realistic spread.
Wind Direction: Set up your decoys facing into the wind. Geese prefer to land and take off into the wind for better control during their approach. Aligning the decoys with the wind will make your spread look more natural and attract geese more effectively.
Landing Zone: Concentrate the majority of your decoys in the landing zone, creating a central focus for geese to target. This zone should be in close shooting range to ensure a higher success rate when geese commit to landing.
Natural Spacing: Allow adequate space between individual decoys to mimic the spacing of geese when they are resting or feeding. Avoid creating overly crowded decoy spreads, as it may deter geese from landing.
Goose Calling Techniques
Mastering various calling techniques can significantly increase your success in luring geese within shooting range. Here are just a few pointers:
Learn the Basics: Start with mastering simple, natural-sounding calls such as the greeting call, feeding call, and comeback call. Practice consistently to achieve realistic and convincing tones.
Observe and Mimic: Listen to real geese in the wild and mimic their calls. Pay attention to the pitch, cadence, and rhythm of their vocalizations. Accurate replication will make your calling more convincing to approaching geese.
Use Call Sequences: Mix up your calling sequences to create variety and realism. Alternate between different calls and incorporate pauses, replicating the natural communication patterns of geese.
Call According to the Situation: This one’s the most important, and the easiest to screw up. Adjust your calling intensity based on the geese's behavior. Loud and aggressive calling can be effective for attracting distant geese, while softer, more subtle calls may be necessary for close-range decoying birds.
Concealment and Basic Blind Construction Tips
Concealment is paramount in goose hunting, as geese have keen eyesight and can detect even the slightest movement. Use natural vegetation such as cornstalks, grass, reeds, or brush to construct the cover on the outside of your blind. Camouflage the blind to match the surrounding environment and break up its outline. Size doesn’t matter here so much as the profile; keep your blind as low to the ground as possible, minimizing its visibility to passing geese. The best blinds are dug in just enough to give you a shooting window. A low profile reduces the likelihood of being detected and increases your chances of a successful approach.
Another thing most people skip is incorporate motion decoys or flags around your blind to create movement and add realism to your setup. The subtle motion can even attract the attention of passing geese and draw them closer.
Hunting Pressured Geese
Hunting pressured geese can be challenging, as they have become wary of traditional hunting tactics, especially if you’re hunting in regular hunting grounds on public land. To increase your chances of success in such situations, consider the following:
Change Up Your Spread: Use smaller decoy spreads and mix in different species and postures. Pressure-wary geese may become more interested in a less intimidating and diverse setup.
Use Minimal Calling: Avoid aggressive calling when hunting pressured geese. Subtle and minimal calling can be more effective in convincing wary birds to approach.
Stay Hidden: Can’t stress this enough, but invest extra effort in concealing your blind and minimizing movement. Pressured geese are hyper-aware of their surroundings, and any suspicious movement can quickly send them off.
Rotate Hunting Spots: Frequent hunting pressure can educate geese and cause them to avoid specific areas. Scout and rotate hunting locations to find less-pressured spots and increase your chances of encountering fresh birds.
By applying these strategies for decoy placement, calling techniques, concealment, and hunting pressured geese, you can enhance your skills as a goose hunter and improve your chances of having successful and rewarding hunts. Remember, waterfowl hunting requires patience, adaptability, and respect for the birds and the environment.
Try Out A Guided Hunt and Learn From Experts
For those looking to elevate their duck hunting experience and gain valuable insights from seasoned professionals, a guided hunt with Thunderbird Outfitters is the perfect choice. With over 20 years of guided duck and goose hunts, Thunderbird Outfitters has established itself as a highly experienced and reputable outfitter in the field of waterfowl hunting. From waders to shotguns, they have you covered, allowing you to focus solely on the thrill of the hunt.