Tips From The Pro’s


The air was frosty with the sting of a cold December morning. The sun was still hiding behind the horizon and the stars were dancing overhead. Showtime was still an hour away as we pulled up to our chosen field. Most of the geese had been using a field about 5 miles from our area, but confidence was easy to come by. We were going to be using a set of DropZone Elite Goose decoys which are as deadly on the geese as a good fly swatter was on a fly. The schedule for the morning included a party of 4 hunters from Hawaii, myself and one of my guides, who didn’t have a group that morning. We also had 3 other guided groups out that morning, all hunting geese over DropZone Elites.

The pressure was on and I wanted to make sure my Hawaiian friends had a successful hunt. I though back to 10 years ago, when the DropZone Elites were just a dream for me, and now they are a critical part of a successful hunt. Before the DZ’s our guide service was using Carrylites, Bigfoots, Flambeaus, Newman & Bennets and G & H Goose decoys for field shooting. My experience with making my own decoys really started 34 years ago when I molded 48 goose shell decoys out of fiberglass. The heads and paint were purchased from Herters. The stakes were ½” dowels. Since the start of my goose decoying days in the early 70’s, painting goose decoys has been a fetish of mine. Because over the years, it always looked to me that most decoy manufacturers were color blind and I knew the geese could see colors as well as we could. My education as an aero-astro engineer made me into an analytical perfectionist. This trait is not always advantageous, as it has kept me up all night painting decoys before a hunt on many occasions. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the geese reacted differently to different paint jobs. Thus, the experimenting started and it has never ended.

We started working on a pattern for the DropZones 10 years ago, which would perfectly emulate not only the shape of a live goose, but the feather relief and feather texture. After 5 years working on the patterns to make sure we got it right, we put them into production. Now 5 years into production, we have a return rate of zero and our customer satisfaction is 100%. At Aero Outdoors, we continually strive for perfection. That perfection was realized one afternoon while watching a set of DropZone Elites that we had left out after a hunt. Geese were coming into the field and landing right in the DZ’s and nothing unusual about hat, except that as they would feed out of the decoys, other flocks would join the decoys. Every flock landed in the DZ’s, even after there were 3 or 4 hundred geese feeding in the field, which had walked out of the decoys earlier. This was late season on high pressure geese. Wow! Was that impressive or what. The properly shaped and relifed decoy with a high tech paint job, that took me almost 30 years to perfect, has paid off big time.

Early season geese, low pressure, responded by landing everywhere and would respond better to calling and decoy movement. Mid-season, medium pressured geese, responded differently with some of them landing with the live geese. By analyzing this, one could deduct that late season geese in high pressure areas respond to less calling and movement in the decoys, as evidenced by all the geese flying right by all the talking and moving geese and landing in the DZ’s. The medium pressured geese in mid November respond to both the movement of the live geese and the calling. But curiously, some of them still preferred the lifeless DZ’s over the live geese. This has gotten more prevalent over the last several years as the geese are getting more pressured north of us in Alaska and Alberta.

Back to the hunt. The frigid hunters from Hawaii had no idea what we were going to use for decoys, and didn’t care, but they were sure happy when I told them that my guide and myself would put out the 2 dozen decoys we were going to use that morning and that they could stay in the warm trucks until then. We also put out a Flutter-Wing Goose (string activated) to attract those flocks of uninterested geese that were going to pass by at about a mile from us. We waited as long as possible to bring our hunters to the pit. The sun was just poking its head above the horizon, like a glowing red cinder, as we brought the Hawaiians out to the in ground pit. The most important part of the hunt was about to happen as we spent the next ½ hour preparing the pit so it would disappear to the extremely keen eyesight of the geese.

We didn’t have to wait long as the first flock of honkers set their wings and looked every bit as if they were sliding down a string to have breakfast with our DropZones. Our hunters came up blazing. Soon I was running back to retrieve the truck because we had bagged 24 Canadian honkers in less than an hour. Yes, the years of test and trial have paid off in a big way for our guide service and all of our customers. And dreams do come true, both for me in designing quality decoys that work, and for the Hawaiians who bagged some trophy geese to mount, along with some tasty meat to take home!

Paul Sullivan
Owner Burbank Guide Service.
Decoy Designer: Aero Outdoors

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