Herald Photo / Provided
ON THE HUNT — Geese can be finicky sometimes, and they are tough birds to knock out of the air. Hopefully these tips will help you put a few more geese on the ground this early season.
Herald Photo / Provided ON THE HUNT — Geese can be finicky sometimes, and they are tough birds to knock out of the air. Hopefully these tips will help you put a few more geese on the ground this early season.
The early Canada goose season is upon us, and with that here are a few pointers that should shoot you in the right direction (pun totally intended) if you plan to be out after some honkers.

Layout blinds:

If hunting food sources and not bodies of water, using a layout blind is probably the best method for hunting waterfowl. These simple blinds are easy to carry and set up quickly in a field. You simply lie inside it and close the doors over you. When the time to shoot comes, simply throw open the doors and take aim. Most layout blinds are equipped with see-through mesh to conceal your face yet allow you vision through the blind. Layout blinds also are ideal when hunting the shoreline, surrounding bodies of water if there is no natural cover, such as cattails, etc. in which to hide. It is a good idea to brush them in a little bit with some sticks or cornstalks, but you do not need to cover them up completely. Waterfowl have a hard time seeing three dimensional objects.

If you don’t have a blind – no problem. Simply lie on the ground and cover yourself with a camouflage tarp or burlap. When doing this, be sure to wear a facemask and gloves. Wary waterfowl can spot any part of your body that is not concealed. When hunting without a blind, I prefer to dig out a flat area with a shovel first, then lay a black plastic sled on the ground for which to lie on. Either is optional, but doing these two things will keep you comfortable and clean.

Sit still:

Even when completely concealed, it is important to remain motionless when geese are approaching your setup. I have seen birds flare out of range simply because someone moved their feet – even while completely camouflaged.

Choke up:

On early season birds that may be more eager to come to your calling, a modified choke will work well in your shotgun. But, as hunting season progresses and the birds become more educated, consider going to a full choke to tighten your patterns and extend your shooting range for call and decoy shy birds.


Your decoy spread can make the difference between eating fresh duck or simply watching them flare out of range. Whether you are hunting grain fields or over water, if you are in a spot the birds have been frequenting consistently and want to be in, consider only throwing out a handful of decoys. Six to 12 well-placed decoys are usually plenty now, as compared to the several dozen you typically may use in the late season. A mix of shell decoys and full-body decoys works well, but all of one or the other should also work fine.

Remember the wind:

For the most part, waterfowl will approach your setup and attempt to land with the wind in their face. Remember this and set up with the wind at your back for the most shot opportunities.

Flag ‘em down:

Using a flag can help bring in distant birds. If you see birds that are too far to notice your decoys or calling, simply waving a black flag easily can catch their attention and sometimes turn them you way. If you don’t have a flag, waving your hat in the air will work just fine.

Shoot like you mean it:

Geese are tough birds. Therefore, shoot 3” or 3 ½” shells if you gun will chamber them. I like shot in size BB or even T shot for the added knockdown power and range.

Hunters should know:

The early Canada Goose season in runs from Sept. 1 to 15.

Keep in mind when hunting geese (or any waterfowl or migratory bird for that matter) that you must have a plug in your shotgun that makes it impossible to hold more than three shells in the gun total - one in the chamber and two in the magazine. 

In addition to a regular hunting license you also will need both a state and federal migratory waterfowl stamp. A Harvest Information Program (HIP) number also is required. It is free and can be obtained by calling toll free at 1-800-WETLANDS.

Federal Duck Stamps are valid from July 1 through the following June 30.

You must sign the front of your Duck Stamp in order for it to be valid. Remember: only you can use your Federal Duck Stamp.

No person may take ducks, geese (including brant) or coots while possessing shot (either in shotshells or as loose shot for muzzleloading) other than approved nontoxic shot. For a list of approved nontoxic shot, see fws.gov/migratorybirds/currentbirdissues/nontoxic.htm.