Skip to main content

Reliable Tips And Tactics For Hunting Early Season Geese

Early season honker hunting can be a magical time to target birds as they begin their migration, these tips will help improve your success this season.

Reliable Tips And Tactics For Hunting Early Season Geese

Photo by Ryan Pettis

As the early days of fall arrived, we embarked on an adventure to one of the most sought-after early season goose locations—Canada. Arriving in Saskatoon overwhelmed by the limitless possibilities to chase fowl and not wanting to waste one minute, we spent hours finding ponds and lakes on OnX Hunt Maps that would hopefully lead to a roost. Searching what felt like endless wheat fields to find a decent location for the next morning, a call came in less than thirty from a local farmer that we met on a previous hunt. Immediately, we headed in his direction hoping the field was going to pay off. The next morning, as the sun rose and we were staring out the edge of our layout blinds, geese soared in the distance. This was an early season hunt to remember for years to come. This trip now takes place once a year with my best waterfowl hunting buddies.

Understanding the Early Season

Early season Canada goose hunting takes place in early fall when the birds are beginning their migration. This time of year, the geese are relatively predictable in their patterns—mostly staging in smaller family groups—while consistently going to and from the same roost for days. This helps give hunters an advantage; the geese haven't seen any pressure, heard any calls or even seen a spread all year.

31
Photo by Ryan Pettis

Scouting for Success

Scouting is a paramount to being successful this time of year. This can look and be done in a multitude of different ways before the season arrives. Examples of this are spending time looking at online maps such as OnX Hunt, studying where the roosts could be and talking with the local farmers either in person or by calling them and creating relationships. Doing your homework before putting miles on your truck and heading out to find the opening-day field will hopefully prevent extreme frustration and lead to a successful hunt.

Decoys and Calling

Decoys—from the amount you set to the type of decoy used—will also change the outcome of your hunt. “Over the past couple of years playing with various types of decoys, I have found that full body decoys work the best for early season,” said Norman Gross with R.A. Legacy Outfitters. “Mixtures of silhouettes and full bodies can be quite productive later in the season, however the use of full bodies gives a more realistic look at the beginning of the season.”

18
Photo by Ryan Pettis

Calling is another aspect of the hunt that can make or break an early season hunt. Mastering various calls, such as greeting calls, clucks and honks can help you imitate the sounds of a flock. Practice is non-negotiable to learning all of the different calls for geese. YouTube is a great resource to find instructional videos regardless of the experience you have.

Concealment and Camouflage

In order to fool geese, proper concealment is imperative. When you scout and find the perfect field, one of my tips for success is to pay close attention to the wind. Wind can determine how and where to set up, as geese typically land into the wind. When planning the hide, whether setting up in the middle of a stubble corn field or on the edge of a barren wheat field, building your decoy spread based off your hide location can greatly impact success. However, if your hide is good, and the birds want to be there, then you might be surprised by how easy it is to land geese close enough without a single decoy.

As important as it is to have a great hide, camouflage isn’t something that should be overlooked. When you are picking out camouflage to wear for a hunt, keep in mind what environment you are going to be hunting in. If you are in a wheat or corn field, start with colors like tan and lighter yellows because it is easier to transition from light to dark. With the various camouflage companies out there nowadays, you will need to do your homework to find the company that will work best for you and your needs.

29
Photo by Ryan Pettis

Timing and Weather Considerations

Timing is very important, and geese typically get off the roost right at sunlight in early season. Plan to arrive in the field with enough time to place all the decoys and apply vegetation to your hide. Weather plays a big part in the timing of the hunt, but for the sake of this article discussing early season goose tactics, we will assume you are not walking into a -40-degree Fahrenheit day with snow blowing sideways in a heavy wind. Always check the weather for these hunts, but most of the time in early season I hunt a T-shirt or hoodie.

Respecting Regulations and Conservation

As responsible hunters, it's essential to adhere to local hunting regulations such as bag limits, shooting light, tubes in our guns, and other rules set forth by the fish and game departments. We do our part as conservationists to retrieve every bird we shoot, picking up our shells and wads at the end of the hunt and, my favorite and most important, leave whatever place better than you found it.

20
Photo by Ryan Pettis

With all the tips I have given for a successful goose hunt, I do ask one thing. From the time you start scouting online, annoying your spouse with calling practice (my wife has banished me to the garage) and placing that first decoy of the season, remember this is a special time of year. We are not only hunters but conservationists, and with this, respect the rules and regulations of the state or province that you are hunting. But most importantly, enjoy being outdoors with your friends and, as always, savor the beauty of all that is goose hunting.




GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Hunting

Part 3: Bears of the North – Grand Finale

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Hunting

Part 2: Bears of the North - Keep the Momentum Going

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Hunting

Part 1: Bears of the North - The Journey

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Gear

Stag Arms Pursuit AR Pro

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Gear

Aero Precision Solus Hunter

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Gear

Browning X-Bolt 2

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Gear

The Truth About Thermal Optics

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Gear

Weatherby's All-New Model 307 Range XP

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Gear

Introducing the Savage 110 Trail Hunter

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Gear

Federal Terminal Ascent 7mm PRC

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Gear

CZ Shadow 2: Competition Ready Right Out of the Box!

Hunters and shooters looking for a single-gun solution for hunting, predator control and plinking should consider the Fr...
Gear

The Ultimate Truck and Trail Gun

Petersen's Hunting Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Petersen's Hunting stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now