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Geese From Top To Bottom
Tyler had heard that hunters in Canada cut the white wings off geese they had downed and used them for decoys. That's what gave him the idea of using the white tablecloths he spread in the restaurant he operated at Altair in Colorado County.
The technique worked, but Tyler's linen service didn't like picking up muddy tablecloths covered with rice straw. They suggested old bedsheets instead, and offered to sell him some cheap.
In 1955, Tyler began guiding goose hunts. He would have his clients meet him at his eating place, the Blue Goose Lodge, and then lead them to a rice field where he had spread white rags to lure the birds.
Tyler's business grew slowly, but as word of his technique spread, other guides began offering the same service. By the late 1960s, the Altair-Eagle Lake area may as well have been renamed Goose Lake, because it had become the goose-hunting capital of Texas.
The most recent step in the evolution of Texas Coast goose hunting came in the mid-1970s when one of Tyler's guides realized that white plastic would do the same thing as white rags, and be a lot lighter and easier to handle. Not to mention eliminating all the washing and drying that using cloth rags took.
In addition to perfecting the style of coastal goose hunting still used today, Marvin Tyler taught his son Clifton to hunt and guide. The younger Tyler began operating his own goose-hunting club in 1975. The Blue Goose Hunting Club is now operated by John Fields.
Wherever in Texas you choose to hunt, as Morrison puts it, "To have a good season, you've got to have good production. The breeding ground has to be in good in shape."
For light geese, for example, those factors include the amount of ice, temperatures and the availability of groceries. At the end of the flyways in Texas, availability of water for roosting and feed are crucial.
"In the Panhandle, if more cotton than corn or grain gets planted," Morrison said, "you're going to have fewer birds around."
Some good news is that with higher rice costs, the extent of the fields along the coast is likely to increase this year.
"It's all tied to habitat," he said.
SOME GOOSE BASICS
Most hunters believe a cloudy day makes for better hunting, since the big birds usually fly higher during clear weather. The savvy birds that have lived through hunting season also realize the altitude is good for their health.
Geese fly faster than it looks. The main reason for missing a bird is not leading it sufficiently.
Successful hunting isn't about luck; it's about observing the geese and learning what their day is like. Geese, for instance, generally avoid fencelines. They like open areas so they can keep a look out for danger.
The big, high-flying flocks of geese know where they're going and are not much interested in diverting to investigate a spread. Usually, only smaller groups of a half-dozen or so will decoy. The good news is that geese are more likely to check out a spread later in the season.
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