Let’s start with a walk in field or hard to reach area where we need to carry in our spread. In this situation, a backpack layout blind and a spread of silhouettes is our best bet. The problem here is that most hunters set up there silhouettes as if they were regular decoys five yards apart in a half moon design. That works fine until the geese get overhead and all of a sudden your decoy spread disappears. During the first two months of hunting season especially, I like to set my spread of silhouettes up in small tight family groups of a dozen decoys facing every which way, each group set 15 to 20 yards apart over a 75 yard span. This way when the geese come in, they are seeing decoys throughout the completion of their approach. Another nice feature of the silhouette design is that as the geese approach we have built in movement because these decoys are constantly disappearing and reappearing at different angles.
Now let’s hunt over water with our floater spread. I like to place the spread close to shore, off of an open shoreline or sandbar area that I know the geese are using. Another tactic for silhouettes is to place three or four dozen on the shore in conjunction with a water spread. They are a nice and compact decoy spread to fit into an already overloaded duck boat.
For a more traditional set up where we can drive into a field with a trailer full of full bodies and shell decoys; an early season set up again can allow for a set up of small family groups spaced out every 15 to 20 yards. With an effective caller and some flagging, we do not need to worry about geese landing out of range like we do while duck hunting. As the season progresses and they start to stage up into larger flocks, the number of decoys needs to increase. However, we also need to start being more creative than the old stand by half moon set up. On a windy day if you watch a real flock of geese, you will notice that they all line up vertically into the wind. We can try and emulate that while placing a smaller group of decoys off to the side to hide additional hunters in the spread. As the season grows colder you will notice that a lot of times the geese will curl up on the ground instead of standing up to conserve energy. This is when I like to remove the feet on the Big Foots or add shell decoys and floaters.
In conclusion, there are many new decoys coming out every year and they keep getting better each year. Do we need to buy the most expensive decoys on the market… probably not but washing off your old decoys and adding a fresh coat of paint once in a while is well worth the effort. If the birds in your area are getting stale, don’t be afraid to try new things. We need to get creative and think outside the box. Maybe a late season set up on an iced over lake with two dozen full bodies directly in a flight path is just the ticket. If everybody in the area has been hunting with spreads of 100+ decoys, try one dozen decoys in a field that is close to the main flock and don’t be surprised to see a couple smaller flocks drop in to your mini spread. Take some time to actually watch a flock of birds and see how they actually sit and what calls they make in different situations. It will be an education that can be used for many years to come. For additional information on Calling Canada Geese click here.