The opening of the waterfowl season is this Saturday in Montana. It is a very exciting time of the year for goose and duck hunters as opening day and weekend are, for the most part, very productive for hunters whether they are hunting from land or open water. I asked Mike Sopuch from Branta Goose Hunting products to share some his thoughts on how to make your goose hunt more successful this opening weekend.
“Early season waterfowl hunting demands slightly different tactics than later season hunts, unfortunately for us, geese prefer to eat greens until they NEED extra calories, and they also like the security of open sight lines. When scouting geese, big numbers in a clean, low-cut, bright green field may get you excited, but without anywhere to hide yourself you will just get a really frustrating ornithology lesson. Make sure there is either an irrigation ditch or shelter belt to slip into near enough to where they were feeding that it won’t be a huge shift off the center of their feeding activity. Without straw, crop swaths, high stubble or corn stalks, the ‘messy textures’ on the ground that help break up your outline, you are going to have a hard time staying hidden, especially in a layout blind. You may be better off finding a field somewhere with adequate cover, even if there are less birds”. The sun can be an asset or a liability according to Sopuch, “Keep the sun in their eyes and not yours, whether your hunt is a morning or evening one.”
Your hands move more than you think. In the early season really thin dark glove liners work great, in the late season black nitrile gloves are your best friend because they hide the flesh, act as a vapor barrier for body heat and they don’t muffle the sound of your calling. Your face can be picked out easily unless it is concealed. Wear a face mask or at least a bandana. More than any other single warning sign; a moving face is why geese will abandon your spread. Any pilot who has flown over a blind/decoy spread will tell you that they are able to pick out hunters by their faces. Hunters often neglect to do anything about hiding their face, defiantly assuming because they are in a layout blind, or even a pit, their face cannot be seen despite the fact that many layout blinds leave your face exposed”. If you are having trouble with geese landing in the same field you are set-up in but not near your blind, Sopuch suggests using what he calls confidence decoys, placing several crow decoys or a blue heron decoy in this area. Finally, Sopuch has a great tip on how to set up your decoys to make them more inviting: “Group your decoys in family groups, even during the migration. Geese stick near their family when they are comfortable. Having a big mass to hide in is fine, but make sure you place enough family groups of 5 to 15”.
So you let the incoming flock know everything is calm on the flight line”. For more tips on goose hunting log onto brantacalls.com and good luck this weekend!
(written by the Captain – aka Mark Ward)