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Geese From Top To Bottom
Once you know where the birds are eating, all you have to do is get to the field early and get set up. Then it's up to how well you can shoot.
Although a few farmers used to lease their land for goose hunting, now almost all of them do.
It's an unwritten law that guides only take their hunters out for half a day, stopping at noon. It's not because they're lazy. The half-day "cease fire" gives the birds time to relax after being shot at and spend their afternoons eating undisturbed. This makes them more likely to come back to the same place the next day, which obviously is to the guide's advantage.
If the birds are not feeding on land controlled by an outfitter, the only other option is to put out a spread and hope geese will come to the decoys on their way to the morning meal. That works sometimes; sometimes it doesn't.
Sometimes, no matter how still you're lying, geese will flare off the spread at the last minute. Pulling the trigger at that point is just going to waste ever-expensive shells (think $2 to $3 per round for a box of premium 3-inch steel shot BB shells) or result in a wounded bird.
At lodges, breakfast is usually on the table at 4:30 a.m. Your guide will meet you and fill you in on where you'll be going, what to expect in the field and how far you'll be from your vehicle. That little item will have a bearing on how much gear you'll have to carry.
Once you're in the field, it's your job, even though you're paying for the hunt, to help your guide set up the spread. Usually, the guide will drop the rags or plastic in a pattern he thinks will work. After that, you're expected to make the rags look lifelike.
Then you and the others in your party will be directed where to go. Most of the time, you'll be expected to lie on your back to wait for the geese. When birds show, the guide will call the shots. If a single comes in, the guide will name the shooter. If that person misses, anyone can open up after that. The guide further earns his pay by keeping up with the type of geese taken and the numbers.
After the shooting stops, hunters are expected to help pick up the spread. The next step is going to the picking house and signing the necessary paperwork.
FINDING A GOOD GUIDE
Be wary of any guide who promises you'll get your limits. And shy away from guides claiming to be great shots. You're going to be paying them to get the birds to you, not to shoot them for you.
GUNS AND AMMO
These days, most guides recommend using a 12 or even a 10 gauge. A 20-gauge, they say, can lead to wounded birds. For the big-bore guns (it's best to use an improved-cylinder choke), the pros suggest shooting BB loads. Steel shot only, of course.
For those Strategic Air Command shots, carry 3- or 3 1/2-inch magnum shells.
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