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As the season progresses we all hit our slump and what we are doing just isn't working. Seems like everything you try to do the birds just don't respond. These are the birds that are super stale, decoy shy, and call shy. They have been decoyed and shot at for the last 4 months. Here are a few mid to late season tips I use to help get those tough birds into the decoys.
I keep it simple by starting with the decoys. My spread is super loose, sometime 30 feet between decoys. I use this strategy throughout the year and it seems to pay off. I am running no basic shape. I concentrate on where the birds are going to finish. This is where I put the most thought into the decoy spread. I am just trying too sort of "corral" the birds into the gun range. The theory behind this is a content group of feeding geese, hit the ground in a wad and then feed out too their own areas. So, I am trying to mimic content geese that have been in the field for awhile. This is telling the birds all is well on the ground. The loose spread does not make the flock in the air "feel crowded" which will make them get down faster. The longer the birds are in the air and the more times they circle, the less chance you have of getting them to finish.
Another very important element in decoying "seasoned" birds is movement. I use Dynamic Decoy bases exclusively in my rig for movement. I find that they are better then having to rely on wind or having some unnatural contraption to make movement. They provide realistic movement with very little effort. Middle to late season I begin running them as a "dual effect", sort of speak. I am running them for primarily movement, but also using them as a distraction away from the pit or blinds. This is very effective way to keep the focus of the birds off the callers or the hide. You can never have enough movement in a decoy spread.
Flagging is also an important aspect of movement in the spread. Flagging to get the bird's attention then going to the slight flag "twitch". This gives them confidence that the decoys are real birds on the ground. The key to flagging seasoned birds is getting their attention and give them just enough to keep them interested. As I said earlier these birds have seen everything imaginable! When it comes to the flag keeping it real is important. I do not flag when they are looking directly at me. I hit them "on the corners". By doing this you are not giving away your hide, plus, adding that realism that keep them interested.
Calling these late season birds can ultimately be your down fall. This is when being able to read the birds and sounding as much like a goose as possible is absolutely crucial. This is done by simple clucks and moans, nothing fancy, just "pure goose. As the birds start to get away from you getting more excited with often times will turn them around. It is important to not panic and let them have some room. A goose is a big bird obviously and needs room. By giving him the room the flock will have a chance to sit down. If a person panics and turns him back too quickly then your chances of finishing the flock are less. This "turn back" is done by rapid fire clucks and a fast double clucks they often times (late season) eat the double cluck up. Again, just giving them just enough to keep them interested.
So hopefully these few tips will help you put more birds in the bag and a bigger smile on your face. Until next time, keep after um!!
...much more to come
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