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The Farm-Field Duck Hunting Option
Targeting puddle ducks in the fields where they feed pays big dividends for savvy waterfowlers. (November 2007) ... [+] Full Article
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Texas Sportsman
State-Line Geese

As an extra precaution, Phillips advised, wear face paint as well as a mask, and have only one caller looking up. "The eyesight of these birds is incredible," he said, "and the fewer sets of eyes you have looking up, the better. You need someone who can move slowly and that can call the shot to be the one on lookout. And once the birds have their feet ready to land, be ready to let them have it."

Down on the McFaddin and Texas Point national wildlife refuges, hunters should do whatever they can to be in the field on foggy mornings. The geese using the grit pits on the refuge and flying along the Intracoastal Waterway and around the big ranches in the area get confused easily in fog. "A good sea fog is a true blessing," said guide Harlan Hatcher, "for hunters shoot more geese per hunter then than probably any other time."

It's possible to shoot a limit of snows without ever setting out a decoy. It can be done by positioning yourself on a levee or along a tree line in the fog. The geese see these high points and follow them; if you are even relatively good at calling, it's more than possible to lure them to within almost point-blank range.

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As the months wear on, the general rule is that large spreads in the fields tend to work better than do small ones, and that hunters who set up realistic spreads showing geese doing a variety of things (feeding, resting, preening, etc.) will do much better than will those with just a bunch of rags out in a field. You have to know the behavior of the birds in your immediate area. If you're hunting marsh refuges, think light and mobile. And if you have access to private fields, go big and super-realistic.

Mix it up with life-size photo realistic decoys, shells, rags and kites. During the last few years, kites have been popping up on more and more goose hunts. I believe they are one of the major keys to success, depending on wind of course. Once the birds get wary to this program, switch over to small spreads with anywhere from half a dozen to two dozen decoys and watch the calling. Once the geese figure out the plastic calls, mouth-calling becomes a much more effective means of bagging birds.

Geese are tough, so you should have the right shot -- No. 2 is the absolute smallest I'd recommend; BB and BBB are better options -- and the right gun. The standard for waterfowl hunting, the 12 gauge, provides the most diversity in terms of action, power and ability to get the job done for a variety of applications from giant geese to tiny teal and everything in between. These guns are powerful, and wherever you hunt, you can generally find a load to fit your situation.

If you want to shoot something and make sure that it's dead, the increasingly popular 10 gauge is your gun. The price of shells is high -- and so's the toll on your shoulder, even if the gun's adequately padded. Affording the extra range and power needed to knock down tough, alert birds, these are mostly for serious goose hunters.

Something to consider when selecting a shotgun is that most models are designed for medium-to-large men. Youth and ladies' models out there have shorter stocks that make them much easier to use by those without huge arms. Consider these when bringing someone into the sport. Just because a kid says he can handle your gun doesn't mean that it's the best option available.

"You've got to be able to knock down the birds before you can cook them," Hatcher said, "so you need a combination of a good gun and the right shot to make that happen, or everything else you do is just wasting time."

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