by Naomi K. Shapiro
Like all hunting, various individual parts make up the scenario of success when brought together properly. That's certainly true of goose hunting. Concealment and decoys are two of the items that meld into a successful goose hunt when used with proper calling.
Here are a few "calling" basics for novice goose hunters:
One of the most important "no-nos" of goose hunting is over calling. So many hunters call and call and call. And then wonder, as they swear to themselves, why the geese just wave "bye-bye" as they honk their way south. It's simple: Geese are pretty quiet (don't laugh – as compared to other fowl, they really are). Geese don't sit around and call, especially when they're feeding on the ground. Geese call when they see other geese flying towards them. They call to "invite" these other goose formations to join them, saying in effect that "the weather's fine here, and its' safe." Or so they think.
Geese are different than other fowl. Because you're a great duck hunter doesn't mean you'll have the same success with geese if you use the same patterns of hunting that you do with ducks. If you're in your goose blind and you don't see geese, don't start blasting with your calls. You'll spot flocks of geese in the distance, then you may use what is referred to as a "high ball" which is a call that "reaches out and touches someone" -- who is some distance away. If you see geese that are closer and looking MAYBE to land, you'll want to use a feeding call or an attractant call. Your call must be specific to a particular situation. "One call doesn't fit all."
Bottom line is that you're not going to be real good at calling for some time. Don't think you're going to get a big honker to come in the first time you call. Like all other hunting, you need practice, and don't be ashamed to admit it. Watch videos. Go to seminars. Talk to game wardens (yes—game wardens really know the area you're in, and they are usually more than willing to assist. Remember, you, the hunter, are their "bread and butter"-- and they know it). And best -- find a "honker hunter" who's got lots of experience. That's a great way to learn "hands on." Tell your new found "friend" that after you get your big goose, you'll buy the beer and the brats. That'll coax any goose hunter to want to help!
Unlike ducks, geese are notorious for circling, and circling, and circling "ad nauseam" before deciding to land. Ducks may fly by, and after doing so, may suddenly bank back and land. Not geese. Geese check out the situation carefully. You can actually see a goose's head looking left and right, up and down -- and geese will do this again and again. Patience is literally a needed "virtue."
And when these geese are circling, whatever you do, don't start squawking a lot of calls or loud calls. If you call at all, just do a soft, quiet feeding call. More than likely that will be the needed impetus for the geese to come into optimum shooting range as they try to land.
Don't be dissuaded by the fact that calling is an acquired art. You can go out with experienced hunters and get your goose, while learning how to call. Most hunters really do want to help you learn -- and if you're willing to listen, you can pick up a lot.