More Goose Hunting Tips with Steve Bierle
Author’s Note: Steve Bierle of Canton, South Dakota, has hunted geese in various areas of Canada and the northwestern United States his entire life. He’s won several state championships and has competed-in and judged many regional and national goose calling championships.
Don’t Shoot Too High:
When geese pass over my blind too high to shoot, I’ll use a moan that you’ll hear geese give when they’re gliding onto water in a field. You can use this note with a few clucks to trigger that landing response and convince the birds to get low and come on in to light. This note sounds like, caaa, caaa, caaa, with a little grunt to it. You make this note by blowing the goose call to get a moan, allowing the reed to stick and then releasing it. When you release the reed, the call produces an almost two-dimensional sound. You get a high and low vibration from the reed at the same time. Although this note is somewhat more difficult to make than an everyday moan, it sounds really goosey, since it has that hollow reedy sound that you hear real geese make.
Another call that I use to get the geese down and convince them to land is what sounds like a low feeding murmur. But instead of completing the murmur, I’ll give a sound that I’ve heard geese on the ground give that sounds like a beginning of a cluck, but they don’t quite put enough air through their larynxes to complete the clucks. The sounds they make come out much like grunts. Geese do this call a lot when they hit the ground, wag their tails and stretch their wings. They seem to make this sound when they’re completing their transition from landing and just before they start feeding. You’ll hear them growl and barely get a cluck out. The sound is much like the sound that a human makes when he’s clearing his throat. I’ve heard geese when they’re down low and on the back side of the blind before they come to light give this grunting type of sound. On calm days and when the geese aren’t talking much, knowing how to give this sound can be deadly effective.
Know When to Call the Shot:
I believe that the closer the bird is to the blind, and the slower he’s moving, the better your odds are for getting a lethal shot. So, I continue to call until either the geese have hit the ground, or I know they’ll pass over the blind. Let’s say we have a flock of 10 birds coming into the blind. I typically won’t call the shot until the first goose has its feet about 10 inches above the ground. When I call the shot, I want my shooters to take the geese that are about 6 or 8 feet off the ground first. Then when the lower birds start to try and climb, we’ll have time to shoot the birds almost on the ground with our second or third shots. If you wait until the first goose almost touches the ground to call the shot, generally you’ll get much cleaner kills, and often the hunters can double or triple on one flight of birds.
I think many hunters call the shot too soon, especially when hunting Canadas. The main reason for this is those Canadas look so big. You get so excited when they start coming in that when they get close, you lose your depth perception. You’ll often take a shot at a goose you think is only at 15 yards, when it’s really at 30 yards. When you take that 30 yard shot, the geese usually will flare, and you’ll take marginal shots instead of certain kill shots. That’s why I let the geese come all the way into the blind and begin shooting just before the first bird has its toes on the ground. If the geese are coming from your right to the left and not straight in, remember to take the shot sooner than you think you should, rather than later like you do when the birds are straight up overhead. If you take the shot as the geese are approaching, then when they flare to the side after the first shot, or they flare when you first pop up out of the blind, the geese still will be in the pocket where you’ve hoped they’ll land. So, you can take your second and third shots straight out over the decoys. If you wait until the geese are right over the center of the pocket, your second and third shots will be at geese going away from you and flaring – a much more difficult shot than a shot at birds flaring right in the pocket.