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Specklebelly Goose Hunting
Because white fronted geese are usually found with flocks of snow geese, most goose hunters use the same goose decoys and goose decoy spreads used for snow geese. Many goose hunters use white trash bags filled with rice straw or white rags staked down with wooden pegs. Spreads of 500 or more aren’t unusual, and most goose hunters supplement the makeshift goose decoys with a few wind socks, silhouettes, shells and full-bodied goose decoys that look like white fronted geese. White fronted geese tend to gather in small groups at the edge of snow goose flocks, so any goose decoys that look like white fronted geese should be positioned to imitate that behavior.
Arrive at your goose hunting area well before daylight, and goose hunt with several partners to hasten placement of goose decoys. Don’t bunch the goose decoys too tightly. A spacing of five to 10 feet is about right. This gives the appearance of a relaxed feeding flock and provides space between goose decoys for an approaching flock to land.
Some goose hunters dig knee-deep pits in the field, big enough to put their feet in while sitting comfortably on the ground. Dirt is piled on the downwind side (the side from which geese will approach), and when geese drop into the spread, the goose hunters lean forward, using the dirt mounds for concealment. Check with the landowner before digging holes and always fill them after the goose hunt.
When properly camouflaged, it’s also possible to simply lay down in the goose decoys without being detected. In snow goose decoy spreads, goose hunters often wear a white smock, coveralls or old sheet and become, in effect, part of the goose decoy spread. Goose hunters should be positioned to shoot toward the downwind side of the goose decoys, because this is the direction from which geese generally come.
Specklebellies have a goose call that’s quite different from Canada goose or snow geese. Hearing this goose call helps attract them to goose decoys spreads, so it’s wise to obtain and study an audio or videotape that teaches the proper sounds to use.
One goose call to use is the two-note yodel, made by saying “wa-wa, wa-wa...” into the call. Both high-pitched and low-pitched yodels are used as a hail call to draw the birds’ attention when a distant flock first comes within hearing range. When a flock gets close, switch to the feeding call, which is made by grunting “kuluck” into the tube. Continue goose calling until the moment you shoot.
A successful specklebelly hunt provides the makings for some of the most delectable wild game meals you’ve ever sat down to. The meat is considered by many to be superior in taste to Canada geese or snow geese. Pluck and draw the birds, stuff with your favorite stuffing mix, and roast in the oven 18 to 20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees.
Goose hunting season dates and bag limits are set in late summer within frameworks established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Contact your state wildlife agency to obtain a copy of the current migratory birds hunting regulations guide listing dates and restrictions.