An old -time goose hunter told me years ago that it takes nothing to call in those pea-brained geese. Of course that particular oldtimer didn't own a single piece of camo.
Well, times are changing. Today's geese aren't your grandfather's geese. Today's geese are hearing calls from hunters from Canada to Alabama. These birds are educated.
While decoys are an important part of goose hunting, good calling will finish the birds off.
I have known Sean Kern for several years. We first bumped into each other in a goose field. It seems that Kern got "crossed up" and was suppose to meet some buddies in a field on some back road in the middle of nowhere. From the other side of the state, Kern had no idea where he was going or at the time where he was. While we were running empty decoys bags back to the trucks, Kern pulled up and asked for directions. He was several miles from where he supposed to be and the sun was starting to peek over the horizon, so I asked him to join in on our hunt.
It wasn't long before I realized that this guy knew his stuff and over the next few hours a friendship was born that lives on today.
Recently, Kern was in town and I asked him about goose hunting and calling. The following is just a little of that conversation.
According to Kern, who is an Oakridge Game Calls pro staff member, "There are many different sounds geese make, but I prefer to use the six they use 99 percent of the time. The key to call geese like turkey, deer and ducks is not overcalling. Listen to which calls the birds are using and mimicking those calls will help fill our limit.''
Sean breaks down goose calls into categories - the cluck, the murmur, the hail, the lay down, the moan and the greeting call.
"The cluck is the foundation of all sounds produced on geese,'' he said. ''All goose sounds are one form or another are based on the cluck, so it's important that we all master the cluck. By lengthening, shortening or using the different notes, you can make every note in a goose's vocabulary.''
A cluck can be broken down into two parts or notes, consisting of a low first note (grrrr) and a higher-pitched second note (ittt) By lengthening or shortening either of the two parts you'll produce different clucking sounds or honks.
"The murmur is just one portion of the cluck and will, if reproduced properly, produce a feeding murmur,'' Kern said. ''The first part of the cluck, used in succession, will produce the murmur or the feeding call. Try using words like grrr, grrr, grrr in succession and you'll begin to produce a murmur or feed call.''
He added, "Slightly changing the second portion of the cluck will reproduce the moan call a goose makes. In a moan you need to drop the first portion of the cluck and highlight the second note so the sound doesn't break over, but drags out the call. Instead of saying (it) on the second portion of the cluck, say (ihhhhh), (awwww) or my favorite (whooo).'
"From what I see/hear, the hail call is the most overused goose call I hear hunters make every season. The hail is used to get the attention of the geese when they are off in a distance. The hail call is a cluck that has a short front-end and drawn out second note (her awwwwwwwwnk) with the emphasis on making the call snap or brake over.''
Kern concluded, "In option the first call any serious goose hunter must use and one to master call is the greeting call. The greeting call is to be used once you get the attention of the geese and they start heading in your direction. Once the birds get closer, call faster and more excited as the closer they get. With the greeting call you can mix in a few clucks, double and some longer greeting style clucks.
''The laydown call is used to close the deal and create confidence and make the geese feel like your decoy spread is a safe place to be. This call is used to get the birds in that last few yards. This is where the short/soft clucks, moan and murmurs are important. Mixing these three calls up in soft and short calls will finish up the most suspicious of geese.''
Learning how to call geese and when to use these calls will make your time in the field and on the water more enjoyable. Keeping your calling to basics will help you not only impress your hunting buddies, but also the geese as well.
Next week, we'll go over decoys, their layout, setups and a couple little tricks that should make your hunts more enjoyable.