Introduction: How to Set Up Goose Decoys
Have you ever dreamed of sitting out in a stubble field with the wild honking of Canadian Geese at your back, knowing they are coming to land right next to you? Well I have and it’s one of the most fun hunting experiences you can have. I have been hunting these birds successfully for several years and feel I have a lot of expertise on helping you do the same. I am going to show you in the next several steps a fool proof way to get these large birds to sit next to you too. By following these directions, you should have a successful hunt of your own.
Step 1: Scout and Get Permission
To begin, an hour before sun down, scout around and find potential hunting fields. These will include areas where there are some crops still standing and near water bodies such as sloughs. You’ll know these are hot spots if there are already geese landing in the area. If there are flocks feeding already then you have a great spot to start. Start by contacting the land owner prior to hunting on private property to ask permission to hunt their property. If you have no idea who owns the property, check the county plat map book and verify who it is. These can be purchased at your county courthouse. One tip to use is to contact the owner every time you plan on hunting his property, even if he’s given you permission in the past. It’s nice to let them know if you are going to be in his field and it is a courtesy. Always thank them for allowing you to hunt as well.
Step 2: Prepare Your Decoys
Next, prepare your decoys. There are many brands, types, styles and designs out there to choose from. The best choice is to use a variety of styles. These include feeders, sentry heads and upright heads to make it look real. Below are several photos of goose decoys simulating various positions for feeding. Using all types of decoys make incoming flocks less likely to flare and move on.
Step 3: Prepare Your Blind
Another important piece of the process is to choose a blind that will not only camouflage you, but your hunting partners and dog. Covering your blind with native vegetation is the best way to blend into the field. One tip is to use corn stalks, camo netting, ground stubble and grass to ensure the blinds look like they are an extension of the field. Below are two blind pictures to provide examples of what works well. Most commercial hunting stores such Cabela’s and Avery have different blind styles to choose from as well.
Step 4: Strategically Place Your Blind
The next step is choosing your blind placement strategy. Check the direction of the wind. Place your blind so the wind is blowing at your back. A good tip to remember when hunting with multiple blinds it to set them as close to one another as possible. Create a U shape formation with the blinds to make the site look natural and realistic. When you have successfully placed your blinds, it is time for creative decoy placement.
This step includes placing decoys around the blinds and into the field. Set decoys out to deliver safe feedback to potential flocks about the field below. These signals include where there is food, and where there is safe resting spot. Feeder decoys alert flocks to food locations. Sleeping geese signal the area is safe to land for a pit stop. By placing a variety of decoys out, all these messages will entice flying flocks to drop in.
Step 5: U Shaped Placement of Blind and Decoys
Canadian geese have a large wingspan of up to 6 feet. That size makes it very important to space out the decoys enabling them to land among one another. Spread them at least 5 to 6 feet apart or approximately 2 big steps. Most geese tend to bed down when the temperature drops below 30 degrees. Since this is common goose behavior in these conditions, hunters should try to reproduce this behavior with decoys. Remove full body decoys from their bases and set them directly on the ground. Another good tip is if there is snow on the ground dig up the dirt or stalks to make it look like the geese have been actively feeding. Below is a great example of proper decoy placement.
Step 6: Keep Yourself Hidden
After setting decoys and blinds up, move vehicles as far away as possible. Geese can see for several miles when they are high in the sky and are always wary to danger. It is best to leave your blinds and decoys overnight and keep the area undisturbed with traffic. If the hunt is planned for the same day, always get there at least 3 hours prior to the hunt and before sunset. One important tip is for all hunters in the blind to be perfectly quiet and motionless. No talking until the shot is called. Everyone in the hunting group should avoid looking up at the geese. To be on the safe side, it is better if everyone wears a camouflage mask. One of the golden rules is that if you can see geese, they have already probably spotted your group as well.
Step 7: Conclusion
By following these simple instructions everyone should be able to set out decoys to attract a beautiful Canadian flock of geese. Good luck to all the active goose hunters out there. Taking the time to set decoys up properly will ensure a great day in the field hunting these great birds.