Hunting Canada - Part 2
As you jump into your layout blind, scrambling to get your shotgun loaded while pulling the lids of the blind closed, you see the first flock of geese headed directly towards your spread of decoys. You reinforce the "stay" command to your dog as you grab your flag and start flapping it, making sure those geese don't veer off course. Behind them, lined up like B-1 bombers ready to make a run, are flock after flock of geese. This is about to get real. Your buddies to the left and right are doing everything in their power to call to them in order to convince them this is where they want to be. You hear shotguns loading, your sweat is still dripping off your head from walking back after parking your truck and trailer what seemed like miles away. The sky is orange with black silhouettes of waterfowl flying in all directions. First flock does it right. 15 geese commit 11 hit the ground and the other 4 fly off wondering what the hell just happened. For the next two hours you and your buddies end up wearing out the flocks that try and make the landing. This is Canada and it a waterfowl's heaven, but if you do not know what you are doing, it can be a frustrating nightmare. I've hunted Canada for many, many years and have learned through my own struggles on how to be successful.
First off, finding the birds. Canada is massive, with so much agricultural land that you need to really put miles on your rig to find the birds. One trick is to find the roosts. Get a map and locate the larger bodies of water. From there you can follow the birds as they leave. You will want to spend a lot of time scouting and locating fields. It might be wise to leave one guy out of the hunt in order for them just to scout and get permission. If you try and hunt and then scout in the evening for the next days hunt, it can quickly turn into a bust, especially if you can't find birds or worse you find the field, yet can't get permission to hunt. I would always go up a few days early and mark all the spots and secure fields for at least two hunts.
When you find the field, you need to watch it. You need to try and make sure you know what kind of crops you are hunting. What kind of cover. Can you drive on the crops. Are they in windrows where driving is off limits. You need to find out how to access the field. And most importantly you need to know exactly where these birds are sitting. These fields can be quarter section 160 acres or more. If you go and just try and set up anywhere in the field, you are going to be in for a long day. These birds know where they've been feeding and know where they want to be. You should try and wait until the last bird leaves then drive to the exact spot and place a marker so you can locate it in the morning. Also, look for fresh goose waste. It's easy to identify because it will be dark green and moist. As waste ages, it turns white on the ends as it dries out.
You will need a large spread. You aren't hunting flocks of 1000. You will be hunting flocks of 5 to 10 thousand. I wouldn't put a spread out thats less than 10 dozen. That's 120 decoys. That is nothing compared to a field of 5000 birds. Try and find the higher part of the field where the geese want to land. If you can put your decoys above your blinds that is ideal. It helps with concealment by using depth perception in your favor. Also make sure you are using the wind to your advantage. There are a lot of things to think about when setting up and trying to put the birds 20 yards in your wheelhouse. Another thing to think about is the roost. Are you too close to the roost. I've seen my fair share of set ups that end up blowing up the roost after the first flock commits. If you think you are far enough or right on the edge of distance, try setting up to where you are shooting away from the roost. One final thing about the roost. It is heavily frowned upon to shoot the roost. It's part of Canadian waterfowl etiquette, not to shoot the roost. Shooting the roost can blow the birds right out of the area ending any potential hunts you might have had in the future.
Lot of hunters think you can just go up to Canada, find every field full of birds and get limits everyday. That is so far from the truth, you still have to scout, you still have to hide, you still have to set up and coax these birds in. But when you do get it right, special things can happen.