Outdoor Column: Take A Gander At That
Published: September 2nd, 2016
By: Josh Sheldon

It’s that time of year again and I couldn’t be much more excited. This coming month is one of my favorites and for many more reasons than one.

My close buddies know for sure that I’m a hopeless waterfowl addict. While they are hunting deer I am trying to get them to shoot some birds with me. Don’t get me wrong, I get out enough to fill most of my deer tags, but try to get it over as fast as possible. An avid goose hunter like myself can’t wait for the September opener, although in most cases all you will get to do is wait some more. Trying to be proactive and taking advantage if the opportunity is presented is the name of the game in the first weeks of September. I have a few sneaky methods that tend to put some extra geese on the table when the going gets tough. It’s funny how the beginning of the month can be slow and the end can be flat out crazy, with more birds in the sky than you know what to do with.

Most people wonder why I enjoy bird hunting so much. From the outside it doesn’t seem to look all that exciting, but from the inside it’s a literal blast. I also get the common response that they taste bad and that’s why no one is hunting them. I will be honest and say duck isn’t my favorite and it reminds me of liver, but goose, if prepared right is absolutely delicious. As for excitement, I was one of the guys back in the day wondering why someone would waste their time and money hunting them. It only took a bunch of prodding and one trip out to become completely hooked. Now after 2 hunting dogs, another two boats, 100 or more decoys, numerous blinds, guns, suits, calls and thousands of shells later, you may think I would be getting bored. The truth is I’m just getting started.

To sum up the first couple weeks of goose season in three words: hot, buggy and slow. The heat doesn’t bother the birds too much but try dragging a layout blind, your gun ammo and 50 or so decoys a few hundred yards up hill to a greenfield that’s too grown up to drive in and the heat will bother you for sure. Then get all set up to get totally mobbed my mosquitos and you will be about ready to throw in the towel. Adding insult to injury the geese are way less predictable and tend to be in smaller numbers, unlike when the northern birds begin to migrate. This is the time to do your homework and sometimes get a bit creative.

With the rough conditions mentioned above, I have come up with a few different strategies that tend to get me birds when nothing else is working. The good old sneak attack is sometimes your only option and works great if you have cover and go slow. I have made approaches on the water’s edge, but more commonly I use it in grown up fields. When it’s about time to chop hay the grass can be pretty tall, which will give you the upper hand at times. I like to belly crawl as close as possible and not shoot until the first bird spooks and gets airborne. The others are sure to react and will give you time to focus on the shots. I more often than not get two birds this way and many times have taken three.

Decoys come in many different types and at times a scarecrow fisherman or nature walker needs to be deployed. If hunting a pond or lake that gets frequented but is too large to shoot across, you can make a few fisherman scarecrows and place them around as to create the appearance of the only safe landing zone on the lake. You can also place them in fields to push geese to you from a field you will not be hunting but they may try to land in. This has worked many times for me and will surely be used more in the future.

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My new plan, that I haven’t tested, is the two man cow costume. I so commonly see geese in fields with cows and livestock. They pay no attention to the big herbivores and I will put money on it that you can walk right up to them then drop the disguise and fire away. I guess I can say you will find me doing what it takes to get some birds until the corn is chopped and the migration begins. Although out of the ordinary and sometimes a bit unorthodox, these methods can and do work. The cow costume is my newest plan and will have to report on it later.

Good wishes and if you happen to catch a glimpse of a funny looking cow approaching a flock of geese, plug your ears and prepare for the shot.