Late season geese are a different bird from the more relaxed ones that are first on the scene each fall.  They have been hunted hard since August, are tired from the stresses of migration and want to rest up. 

Kelley Powers, of Union City, TN has been hunting late season birds for much of his life.  He has formulated some theories on the subject as well as having some educated guesses on the why of goose behavior. Along the way, Kelly has won numerous goose calling contests such as: World Goose Calling Champion, International Goose Calling Champion, and World Goose Calling Champion of Champions. 

“I am no biologist,” explains Powers, “But from what I understand, of the early part of the migration, the birds are building up on high protein food sources.”  Later in the season when the temperatures warm a lot of ducks are hitting the shallow water areas and they are feeding on invertebrates.  Many grain crops are not as attractive to them.  In a sense the late season goose’s food source changes slightly.  

As far as movement, Powers sees a lot of good movement in the warmer weather.  The main element is to have wind.  It seems to take wind to get geese moving.  On still days and when it is warm, clear or cloudy, they just do not want to fly.  When it gets warmer, they seem to head out to the smaller areas with water.  Geese will hold during colder temperatures on big water.  Additionally the big water is going to stay open longer.  It is not prone to freeze as quickly. 

“We tend to use more decoys during the early part of the season,” explains Powers.  Once we have the birds in the area, especially if right next to a major impoundment, he has to change the decoy set up every day.  But, Powers scales back to a smaller decoy spread.  

Powers doubles up with both duck and goose decoys at the same time.  Generally during the late season he will pull 100% of duck decoys up and hunt mainly over goose floaters. 

Powers and his hunting companions have found that late season birds will pitch out of the air and decoy easily.  However, they will land a hundred yards away.  They noticed that the live birds react differently to other live geese.  The majority of flocks were even numbered flocks and it seems that they become territorial.  They seemed to have already paired up.  They do not want to be harassed by another flock. 

They will pitch out at the calling, pitch out at the other decoys, or geese.  But, they land shy and go off by themselves.  

No one in Power’s group blows a call the whole time they are hunting.  The group will just blow goose calls sounding natural, clucking and moaning.  It is a situation where the birds are not concerned about territory.  They will come right into the decoys. 

Hunting wise, you cannot take about 100 decoys and spread them out over twenty acres.  Powers found that hunting over a bunch of goose decoys will work.  

When it comes to calling, Powers actively uses feed calls generally early in the morning and late in the afternoon if in a feeding scenario.  Early in the morning and late in the afternoon they are usually in shallow water feeding in flooded grain fields.  He uses feed calls up until 8:30 A.M. or 9:00 A.M.  That is what the birds are doing that time of day. 

Once it gets past that time and on into the mid part of the day, the birds are loafing in the open water areas.  Their heads are tucked and they are resting.  Kelley just tries to recreate what the birds are doing that part of the day.  He stays really consistent with this pattern throughout the season. 

If there is a lot of wind it is possible to get away with more calling.  If it is low wind, most of the time less calling is used, if at all.  It is what works for him. 

 Powers hunts from pits, boat blinds and permanent blinds.  If the birds are hitting an area of the fields, the shallow water areas, especially where you can see the still water areas and not much ripple, they will hunt those still water areas with lay out blinds. 

If you are talking about two inches of water, geese like to have the waves push up into them and push them up on the bank.  They don’t like to work any harder than what is necessary.  The birds will feed on the invertebrates that are pushed into the bank by the same winds. 

Paying attention is the number one key to waterfowl hunting.  Pay attention to what the birds are doing at that time of year and that time of day.  Know everything about them.  Every day is different.  

Generally before weather fronts move through the birds tend to be a little more active.  They know the weather is about to hit and the change in the barometric pressure is the key.  It starts changing right before the front comes in. 

What pushes the front through is a high pressure system.  Geese migrate more frequently in high pressure weather than with low pressure.  That is because they can fly at higher altitudes with high pressure.  The hardest part of a goose’s exertion is the exhaling part where with a human it is the inhaling.  In high pressure situations birds can fly at a higher altitude and it is easier to make those long distance flights.  

Late in the season Powers wants one day to be windy and turning colder and then a day or two later to be warming up in the 60’s and wind out of the south.  Ten days of all the same weather is just death for the hunting.  The changing weather will constantly move the birds around.  If it stays constant longer, they are just going to sit. 

Early part of the season geese are going to respond better because you have more juvenile birds out there.  If there are a couple of juvenile birds within a flock they will respond to a call better.  There are going to be more of them than later in the season.  Calling wise it is tough going.  Powers will watch how the birds respond and how they are behaving.  If it is no wind then he will scale the calling down.  Less is best. 

You have to be always aware of “let’s figure it out, figure it out.”   You may never figure it out but you might get a little bit closer.



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