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Hunting the Local Canada Geese

This old Purdey 10 gauge, made in 1879, still brings home the geese.
This old Purdey 10 gauge, made in 1879, still brings home the geese.

Both the local Canada geese, and those migrating through in the fall, spend their nights on the water – as a defense against ground-based predators. The preferred water is almost always a lake (medium or large), with brush-free edges that allow the birds to rest or spend their time feeding on harvested crops or grass during the daylight hours.
The geese begin gathering in and around the lake

Our typical decoy spread, when hunting local Canadian geese.
Our typical decoy spread, when hunting local Canadian geese.

in late afternoon, hopping over from another lake, or returning from feeding fields some distance away. Driving by these lakes, just before dark, confirms which lake will be their preferred resting place for the night, and how many birds there are. Once a lake is chosen by the geese, they will likely stay there for a few days, before moving on to another, unless disturbed. Now the

Another day, a different gun – same lake.  Brenda and I hunted together on this day.  I’m holding my Winchester Model 12, 12 gauge.
Another day, a different gun – same lake. Brenda and I hunted together on this day. I’m holding my Winchester Model 12, 12 gauge.

hunt can be planned. In our area, we have access to two medium-sized lakes that the geese frequent regularly – and that work well for decoys and blinds. Some lakes are simply more conducive to hunting than others.
An hour or so before first light the next morning, we arrive at the lake with a trailer full of decoys – full-size, shells and flags; and begin setting up.

Purdey 10 gauge (1879); note the Jones Underlever on the bottom of the trigger guard, which was an early method of opening/closing a shotgun – before the standard Top Lever we see today.
Purdey 10 gauge (1879); note the Jones Underlever on the bottom of the trigger guard, which was an early method of opening/closing a shotgun – before the standard Top Lever we see today.

Geese land “into the wind”, so we want the wind to our back as we choose the location for our decoy spread and blinds. Of course, on occasions the wind changes, so knowing the forecast winds for the morning is an important consideration.
If it’s a dark night, the geese don’t always flush from the lake when we first arrive and begin to set up. About the time

Brenda in a layout blind.  The side flaps fold in, for concealment.
Brenda in a layout blind. The side flaps fold in, for concealment.

the set-up is complete, it’s light enough that they begin to see what’s going on and all take off. Shortly thereafter, we settle into our blinds and wait for them to return, and the legal shooting time to arrive.
Almost always they come back, mostly in small flocks of two to a dozen. The decoys are there, the hunters are well hidden in their blinds, and the wind

Son Russell with two of his sons, Oliver nearest and Benjamin farthest, in a temporary blind.
Son Russell with two of his sons, Oliver nearest and Benjamin farthest, in a temporary blind.

is right. That’s the way we hunt the local Canada geese here in Missouri. This is usually a “one and done” event; the decoys are gathered up when the hunt is over, and the geese won’t be back tomorrow. But when the season is at its peak, and there are lots of new birds coming in, it can work multiple days in a row.

Two handfuls of geese, Canada and Specklebelly – from the morning hunt.  Cold and windy that morning.  Note my old Winchester Model 12; I shoot geese with Bismuth shot.
Two handfuls of geese, Canada and Specklebelly – from the morning hunt. Cold and windy that morning. Note my old Winchester Model 12; I shoot geese with Bismuth shot.