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Early Goose Opener


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Man am I getting excited to go hunting. With Game Fair on the way, the days getting shorter, and the planning that goes into every fall. I can't take it.
I was wondering what technique you use for the early season? Lots of decoys, a few decoys, lots of calling, a little calling. Do you hunt over water now that it is legal or do you stay on land?
I myself stay on land and put out no more than 30 bigfoot decoys. I listen to what the birds are saying and try to mimick them. If they honk I honk. If they are quite I am quite or do some soft clucking and moaning.
I just can't wait to get the flag out again to turn the first distant flock!

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Hunt Snow Geese, Save the tundra

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My decoy spread really depends on the year and what I am seeing in the fields prior to opener. Some years there are lots of fields and the groups are all over and other years they are beginning to bunch up. Typically on group with 2dz deeks and several smaller groups. I will typically blind up in the large group unless they begin landing short or are flying the fringes but that doesn't really happen much until the 2nd week typically. Calling seems to vary alot too. If they're coming I just hit them with an occasional cluck and once they're locked I might give them a little lay-down call. Watching their reaction to the calling is the main key to me.

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I too, prefer hunting on land during Early Season. Much easier to keep geese around a paticular area by not burning them off a good roosting water. We typically use 2 to 5 dozen goose dekes depending on the size of flocks using the area. Although I love calling, I do a lot less of it in September, as most of the local geese are familiar with where they are going, and we usually hunt fields that we know are being used heavily. Although I hate to think it... we would probably have just as good success leaving the calls at home this time of year. Regular and late seasons are a whole other story though! And like Bem said, it's still fun to watch them respond... especially to pull them to the part of the spread that you want them to land at smile.gif

Dekes are usually set in small groups to mimic how the flocks feed most of the time that time of year. Small family groups feeding in one common area. Silohettes have been deadly on the geese for us, mixed in with mag and super mag shells. I always amazed at the number of wood ducks and mallards that dump into our goose spreads. Two years ago in September, we had several hundred woodies in waves buzzing the dekes.
I'm getting pumped already. Nothing gets me pumped more than an overcast, cool day in the summer... It's easy to pretend that it's a nice late October day, during the "right" time of year smile.gif

Good Gunnin'

Duck-o-holic

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I use less decoys,for early season I use 9(I like odd #'s)"Big Foot" w/a flag to mimic wings.(latter in the season I set out all the big foot and shells and floaters but not till the more northern flights are comin down.I do just enough calling to get their attention,if they respond(turn my way)then the calling is done till the wings are cupped,then I get the "excited" call a couple good wailes.I also agree with a past post about hunting on land before waterfowl opener.I try leave my puddles alone for early season,thou I did a guided hunt last year and brought the guys to a favorite pond,I think we took 12 home that day.Best early shooting I had lastyear was there.BUT I would rather leave it alone.

YEAH,I THINK I'M GETTING A LITTLE ANXIOUS AS WELL !!!!!!

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Greg

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Yeah I can't wait either. Although 99.9% of my hunting is done on public land in and around the south metro. I usaully have trouble finding a place to field hunt in the early season. So I try and pass shoot the geese coming to and from the water and fields. It's pretty hit and miss. If I can get access to a winter wheat, sweet corn, or alfalfa field then I'll set up a dozen silo's, and a dozen shells set up in smaller family groups of 5 or so.

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I have found that there have been ways to hunt a roost, at least my favorite one. Sometimes I have went home empty handed where 20 people could of got there limits. If I do hunt a roost I pick one with a lot of birds which is more frequent later in the season but can happen on early season especially the 2nd weekend. I will sometimes either get there really early and be very quiet while setting up and wait until the majority of the birds go out. Sometimes the last small group, if there is one, can be coaxed to fly into the decoys. Otherwise I wait until they all go out to feed and then set up. You can frequently get singles or small groups as the pressure breaks up the flocks. If the flock returns in a big group I will leave them be even if they fly in as to not destroy my chances at future hunts, and educate them for future years. A good roost will continue to pull birds in all season as the locals will pull in migrants. This has worked for me anyways and believe me it takes a ton of restraint at times.

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I personally don't like hunting roosts during the early season because of how gun shy it makes the birds. Last year when we were allowed to hunt the roosts the people that were hunting them ruined it by shooting the birds at sun up which made them very gun shy by the time they got out to anyone's decoys. The only time that I hunt a roost pond is later in the season when the high flyers come in. Other than that, I think it is a bad idea to educate the birds that early in the season.

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I took my calls out last night. I shouldn't have done that. I was able to call in the neighborhood children. It just got me even more wound up.
Has anybody ever put out a x pattern for geese and put your blinds in the middle? I think this would work well on those morning when you don't know what the wind is doing, if you have any wind at all.

I have been burned many time by birds coming from the back side when there isn't much wind. I figure if I leave them 4 different landing areas they could come in however they please.

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Hunt Snow Geese, Save the tundra

[This message has been edited by snowgoose (edited 07-23-2004).]

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Personally I think letting hunters hunt by water the early season was the stupidest thing they ever did. I have had a field close to a good roosting spot and every year we were able to shoot geese. This last year some hunters setup on the roosting spot and I think they shot one goose and we got skunked. All the geese we saw were already educated. Hard to bring them in when they already know the game is on.
Flash
"Set the Hook"

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I think you all need to know that there is a difference between hunting water and hunting a roost. We will be hunting water but we would NEVER hunt a roost. Where do you think the birds go after they get blasted at a few times? That will be us waiting for them on the water. Water is a safe place for the birds. If they go to water it dosen't mean that it is there roost.
So if you want to complain about hunting water go ahead but we have an early season for a reason.(to thin the heard)wether that be on land or water.
I will agree that hunting a roost is not the thing to do but hunting water is fine.

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I think it's kind of funny the field hunters hate to see water hunters "educate" their birds, but they feel fine taking 5-10 guys out and shooting 25-50 birds in three or four flocks.
The water hunters probably don't like the fact that when the flock leaves the lake in the am with 12-15 birds, it returns with 3.
Like it was said previously early season is there to thin em out, don't get so greedy.
From opening day till the end of the season I hunt water, and Very Few days go by without us shooting a few honkers, most of which are the so called educated locals.
The birds need to eat, and need to rest, so you either ambush them at the dinner table or the bed, seems like a toss up to me.

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I agree that there is a big difference in hunting a roost pond and hunting just another body of water. A roost is something that the geese use year after year and it is their home. When the roost ponds in the area that I hunt got shot up last year the geese left the area. The only shooting that the people had hunting the roost was at first light when the birds got off the water. When the birds get shot at their home they get very shy for the field hunters and the water hunters.

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I had the same thing happen to me last year. But it is now legal to hunt on the water. I only hunt in Minnesota a couple weekends a year for waterfowl. I got tired of the pressure from other hunters. I spend most of my time and effort going to Sask. and Manitoba. That is beside the point.
As far as I have seen over the years. Hunting the roost ponds is not a good thing for guys that hunt over water or on the field. I hunt a area that only has one lake that holds birds. After opening weekend last year we never saw a goose again.
There is a big difference between hunting water and hunting a roost (as stated earlier). As far as the comment about 5-10 guys hunting land and shooting 25 to 50 birds. Good for them. I hope you get the chance to have a great hunt like that. I have been on 3 hunts were a group of us have taken over a hundred birds. Mostly Snows. There is nothing like it.
Snowgoose

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Hunt Snow Geese, Save the tundra

[This message has been edited by snowgoose (edited 07-29-2004).]

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Blackjack, I am not saying that they may not make it a roost for the night but I have watched birds come to water and then leave a couple hours later and fly to there roost. How do I know? We watched 2 black neck collared geese last year and we went out scouting later in the day and they came into a totaly different slough for the night(it was about 6pm).

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Hi guys, you all seem like pro's at this, I am not.

Background: I have hunted geese for 3 years now, always path shooting. Sometimes that's good (I've spent a total of 6 days on Laq qui Parle, very fun), sometimes not (such as in the south metro, very tough to get them on the path).

So, I would like to try either field blind or boat blind this year around the south metro for early season.

Does anyone have any recommendations, advice, etc?

It sounds as though there is some controversy among the group, so you should know I have no preference, but would really appreciate being pointed in the right direction, hunters need to stick together and help eachother out for a lot of reasons...

Thanks

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I only have floating goose decoys so I guess I'll be educating birds for all you field hunters this early season.

That's a good, valid point, about not hunting the roosts. But since any hunter can hunt over water or field, you might as well go where you can get the best shots at the most birds. If you dont have access to a field to hunt in, go to the water. If you don't you can bet someone else will.

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kpj5br, welcome fellow fowler. I don't think there is really a right or wrong way to shoot a bird. As long as they end up in the oven, you did it right.

I live in SW MN where the geese are everywhere. For early season I put out decoys in small groups, 3-5 per group. And the groups make up a big X. I don't have a field blind so I try to match camo to what field I'm in. Dark stuff for a hay field, lighter stuff for a corn or oats field, etc. You'd be amazed what a couple of cans of spray paint on old clothes can create for camo. I like the X pattern because it seems to funnel flocks in from all directions.

If I see a flock a long way out and they are coming straight at me, I leave the call alone until they start honking. If they are not flying towards me I honk at them. Sometimes it pulls em in, sometimes not.

One of the biggest things I've learned is geese will come at you from different directions, but almost every time they circle around to land into the wind. If they are coming in, let em come. Once they've cupped their wings and committed they are a heck of a lot easier to bring down.

Most importantly, bring a kid and have a ton of fun.

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boilerguy, where in SW MN do you hunt?
We hunt in the Ivanhoe area or up in Canby.
Are the birds looking good out that way do you know?
We are coming out the day before early goose to do some dove hunting and to scout for geese. We usualy don't have a problem getting permission to hunt fields out there.

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I live a little south of Slayton. I've hunted the Talcot area a little. There are a ton of geese there, but to be honest I don't really like hunting there. Too many people. We hunt the fields around Slayton, Avoca, Iona, Fulda, Currie, etc. Sometimes we set up on the ponds and wait for them to come back from feeding.

Lots of geese round these parts. Early season should be fun.

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The reason for not shooting birds on the roost is because the birds need a place to rest. When they are shot off the roost and keep getting shot at everywhere they go, they learn quick that there is no where safe to be and they with either go no where near decoys or they just leave the area. When they have somewhere safe to go at night to rest, they stick around and we all get to have another good day hunting. I don't hunt water in the early season because it is a whole lot easier to walk in a field and pick up geese than to put on the waders and pick them up.

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Huntnfish and Snowgoose-- I highly agree with your posts. We lease land with one very big body of water in the middle. Early season geese flock up there when the young are old enough to fly. By the time the migration is in full swing, the numbers of geese multiply greatly here. We hunt smaller bodies of water near the main "roosting" pond. We pull geese off this main body all year into our duck/goose spreads. One year we had a group that was sneaking into this roost pond and smacking them there. The geese immediately left, and most didn't come back for days if at all.

My point is this... for me, leaving these birds alone created a natural "refuge" for these birds. Gunning them off on early season opener would have eliminated much of the reason so many birds used it during the migration. By hunting the small water and fields around this area, we take geese all year while maintaining and increasing the number of birds using the main roost. If more people did this, they would keep birds around longer, which would benefit everyone hunting the vacinity. Trust me... gunning birds off roosts is going to deteriorate the all-around hunting in that area. That's one reason so many birds are shifting their flyways more and more to the west.

As Snowgoose pointed out-- there are excessive amounts of hunters in MN. I'm not saying that is wrong... just that MN has an massive population compared to SD and ND, hence the mass movement of fowl and hunters to ND, SD, MB, and SK. With the increased amount of people, go decreased amounts of individual (farm)land, which has equated to more and more potholes and sloughs drained.The giant fishing industry in the state has resulted in massive amount of aereators going into lakes and thus destroying the freshwater shrimp population... a LARGE contributor to the shifting migrations as well.

Not trying to bash anyone or blame anyone here... just trying to point out the factors that are affecting the sport that all of us on this site love so much! Just my .02 smile.gif

Good Gunnin'

Duck-o-holic

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If everyone hunted roosts, wouldn't that keep all the birds moving.

If you hunted in a spot which was "roost busted" by a group near you, wouldn't you hope the groups 20 miles away were busting roosts too and pushing them into your area?

Just kind of a goofy thought.

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KPJ5
If I were you and wanted to get a taste of field hunting , I would go to Rochester and go guided for a day. They are alot of fun if the birds are working. I think it is fun just listening to the guides call birds. It costs around $70 a day. I always used North Flight. I'm not sure if they are still in business.
Don't go during the early season. The birds stay in town and the crops usually are not out at this time. I always had the best luck down there in late October when the migration is coming through.
Here's a little trick for you. When you get there make sure you pay attention to the wind direction. Go to the end of the pit where the wind is at your back. You will get better shooting the the guys on the other end. You will also see where the guides have left a pocket for the birds to land in.
This is how I got started and have never looked back. I will worn you. This is not a cheap sport. Decoys, Shells, Blinds, Gas for scouting, Trips........
Good Luck and shoot em in the lips

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Hunt Snow Geese, Save the tundra

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