Decoy Placement for Goose Hunting Over Water

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

Decoy Placement for Goose Hunting Over Water

By Dave Hochman


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0:43  Hi, I'm Dave Hochman with Gundogs Online. Today I'm going to talk to you about setting floaters while hunting Canada geese.

0:51 The “U” Pattern is exactly what it sounds like. It's a “U”. It's your base for your decoy set which you can modify with each set depending upon the wind and conditions. This is the beginning of our “U”. We have two birds off in the distance that are swimming in. It then follows up the line. If we move up to the head here, this is where the majority of our birds are. The reason we do this is for drawing power. This will pull the birds up front where we want them. Going down the back side, off the opposite bank, is the other end of the “U”.

1:36 So in this scenario, the wind is from my left to my right. The birds will come in this way into the decoys.  And as you can see, we have a big hole in the middle of the decoys for them to land in.Should the geese not land in the hole, as we predict them to do, and overshoot the head of the rig, which they will do at times, it won't matter due to our positioning because we'll have a crossing shot as they go by.

2:05 As you can see over my shoulder here, we have some land decoys. We'll use this for a visual for the geese to see from long distances. In situations with tidal marshes like this when the decoys drop below the banks, you need these for the geese to pick up when they're out in the distance when they hear your calling. You don't need many; but a few goes a long way.

2:28 Flagging is equally important when hunting over a water rig as it is over a land rig. In a situation where the boat is up against the bank, and you're below the bank with a lot of land decoys, you can use a T-flag. But otherwise, use a simple, square, black flag to do your flagging.

2:48 The pattern that we're looking at here is the “J” pattern. It's in the basic shape of a “J”. You can deviate from it slightly if you'd like, move some of the decoys out or in. But for the most part you maintain this pattern.

As you can see off to my right is the head of the rig. This is the upwind end of the rig. It has the majority of the decoys in it. The reason we do this is so that when the birds pick up the tail of the “J”, they follow it up and they always head for the majority of the birds. We hope for them to land in the hole, in the hook of the “J” but if they overshoot the head of the rig, they're still passing by the gunner so it works out fine.

Again, we have some decoys on top of the bank for visibility and for realism. And the wind is going from my right to my left. Again, the head of the “J” is up to my right and then the tail comes down, down wind and then funnels down to a couple birds off to my left.

3:52 The one thing I haven't mentioned is the decoys themselves. When choosing a decoy you want one with realism. These decoys have flocked heads, very realistic feather detail. They also have full keels and they're weighted so they won't flip over in the wind and when you['re setting them out. If you set them upside down, they'll roll themselves back over. It also makes it handy for wrapping birds. It makes for a quicker setup, both picking up and then resetting. These decoys here are Avery's Greenhead Gear. There's several on the market. These are my preference.

4:31-5:04  [wind in the background]

5:07 So we talked about two patterns today, the “U” and the “J”. Remember you can deviate from these patterns. You can move decoys outside of the pattern and in fact, it's good to do that, to have a few birds swimming in to look more natural. We also talked about having decoys up on the bank in tidal marshes. Where the floaters drop down, you need a visual. And the more full bodies you have on the bank, the better.

We also discussed in the head of the rig you want the majority of your birds. The head of the rig is upwind. That's what you're pulling focal point is for the geese so they'll follow those birds as they come in and you're going to set your blind accordingly. 

And the last thing is flagging. Flagging is just as vital on water as it is on land.

5:53 Again, I'm Dave Hochman with Gundogs Online. I hope these tips are useful to you. 

5:56 [Closing]

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