Proper Goose Decoy Setups

by Naomi K. Shapiro

field hunting for geeseProper decoy placement when goose hunting is critical. The two different hunting setups –water and land have set up requirements unique to each.

Only about 10 percent of goose hunters hunt on water, and they're usually duck hunters who want the "chance" to get a honker flying by over the waterway they're on. These duck hunters will typically throw out maybe a half dozen or dozen goose decoys in deeper water, away from their duck set ups. These "ersatz" goose hunters will, because of the few decoys they've got, necessarily spread out their goose decoys wide apart--15 to 20 feet--to make it look like a big bunch of geese is in the area. They hope that their goose decoys will generate some attention from fly-by honkers who MAY get interested enough to be drawn in close enough for a shot. It happens, but... well, let's just say, don't make any heavy bets on it.

Over 90 percent of serious goose hunters hunt on land. You can't be haphazard with placement of land decoys. Find feeding areas (cornfields are great) where you can lay a large spread of decoys. Specific patterns and styles make goose decoys attractive for different reasons. Geese get "smarter" as the season goes on, and the more attractive the decoy set up, the more apt it is for a hunter to get a good shot. There are many different styles of goose decoys and include: Bedded down, "sleepers." Extended neck "feeders." Wing "flappers" (the decoy's wings will flap up and down, with motion provided by wind or battery). Then there's a new one called "goose skins;" and these are really neat. They're actual goose feathers that are attached to a malleable fabric, that is placed over a decoy--much like a "wig." And they really are a super attractant for geese. They appear very realistic, because the feathers ARE "real."

You set your decoys up, in and around the location that you're going to be sitting in. You want to have them all around. And don't gasp--serious, savvy goose hunters will set out six to ten DOZEN decoys. What you're doing is trying to make it look like "the whole town's here, and everyone is invited to come and party." When it comes to goose decoys, guide Phil Schweik says it best: "The more the merrier!"

When you set yourself up, you will want to position yourself so that the geese will be coming towards you as they land into the wind. Remember--geese will always land into the wind, so you want the wind at your back--and for sure you want the sun at your back, so you're not looking into it. Best time of day to goose hunt is early morning or late in the day. That's when the geese are coming in to feed and/or rest.

Set up in one of two types of blinds: A regular "layout blind" (that's the one we described in a previous article--it's a flat box, often called a "coffin" in which you lie flat on your back, and pop up when the geese come in. Or many hunters build a "box blind" by using a series of stakes intertwined with chicken fencing/wire, and stuffed with corn stalks. Then just get a comfortable chair, sit back, have a cup of Joe, and patiently salivate as the big honkers move in.

Meet Naomi Shapiro Minimize

Outdoor writer and hunter Naomi ShapiroNaomi K. Shapiro and Stuart Spitz write about hunting, fishing, nature, outdoors and travel for a variety of media. They lived on a lake in the middle of the Chequamegon National Forest in Northern Wisconsin for fifteen years (where the elk were reintroduced; a number of wolf packs exist; and that has the largest-per-acre black bear population in North America).