“When I set-up my decoy spread, I like to put out about 300 decoys,” John Gordon reports.
“I use full-body decoys, motion decoys and windsock decoys to provide a lot of moving parts in my spread. I put the speakers for my electronic callers beside my best-looking decoys, which are always my Avery (www.averyoutdoors.com) Full Body Snow Goose Decoys, and my Avery Snow Goose Shells. These are the decoys I want the geese to be looking at, when they come in and prepare to light in my spread. The windsocks are what I use for volume. The windsocks are less expensive than the full-body decoys, and the shells add motion to my decoy spread, plus they’re quick and easy to set-up and take-down. Even though they don’t look exactly like a snow goose, they have the body type of a snow goose, and they move in the wind. So, I can put out a much bigger spread than I can afford to put out with all full-body decoys. Also, the windsocks are easy to pack, unpack and store in large plastic containers. Most of my windsocks are white with black stripes down the sides to imitate the black part of the snow goose’s wing when it’s on the ground feeding. I also mix in some darker blue goose decoys to make my spread look more realistic”.
For many years, I was told and believed that the blue goose that flies with flocks of snow geese was an immature snow goose. However, Gordon explains that the blue goose is still a snow goose. “When a female snow goose lays her clutch of eggs, she will produce chicks that are both solid white with black wing tips and blue geese, which are a darker-colored goose. These geese also may be multi-colored – having both the brown or blue color and white colored feathers. The best way to understand how a white goose can produce both white chicks and dark chicks is to consider how a mother produces children with black hair and children with blonde hair. They are children of the same mother and father, but the color of their hair is different. The white and blue snow goose are both considered snow geese. Most of the time, you’ll see flocks made up of both colors of snow geese. Having said this, that’s the reason I mix dark-colored snow geese decoys with my white-colored snow geese decoys.”
Gordon mentions he can carry 20-dozen windsock decoys in the same amount of space in the back of his truck that he can carry a bag of six full-body decoys. In front of the windsocks that are facing into the wind, Gordon puts full-body shell decoys. These decoys sit on top of full motion sticks, which are springs that allow the decoys to bob up and down and move sideways when the wind blows. They look more realistic than the windsocks. At the front of his decoy spread where he sets-up the speakers for his electronic callers, he puts the Avery/Greenhead full body decoys. The shells look like full-body decoys without being as bulky and taking up as much space in a decoy spread as the full-body decoys. He believes his best decoys are the full body Avery/Greenhead decoys, because when the geese get really close to the ground and to the decoys, they’ll see decoys that look exactly like live geese.
I once believed that the only way I could get snow geese to come into my decoy spread during the Conservation Season was to use full body decoys and full body shells,” Gordon says.
“But I’ve learned that if I put out four dozen full-body shells and two dozen full-body decoys, I can attract those high-flying Conservation snow geese. By using the windsocks to make my decoy spread look really big and having the shells in front of the windsocks and the full-body decoys upwind at the front of my spread, I can attract and call in the snow geese. By using this type spread, I can get my decoys out faster, and I can get in the layout blind quicker than if I put out hundreds of full-body decoys and shells. Plus, this type decoy spread is far less expensive than a spread of just shells and full bodies. Also, at the head of my spread, I use SilloSocks (www.sillosocks.com) flying decoys – lightweight decoys that are attached to strings that are attached to small poles. These decoys look like snow geese that are flying and about to land. I use them at the front of my spread to add realism, and another type of decoy for the young birds to focus on, as they come in to the spread to light. By setting-up like this, the young geese are looking at the decoys instead of looking for hunters in blinds.” Gordon leaves an open space for the geese to land right behind where he has his speakers and his best decoys by leaving an open pocket. The geese will come in with their wings cupped and only a few feet off the ground, right in front of the hunters.
Gordon uses an electronic call produced by Goosegetter (www.goosegetter.com) made by David Glass from Nebraska. These calls are motorcycle radios and use a motorcycle battery. Six different actual snow geese sounds of their feeding are built into the caller. You can use two or four speakers. “I believe that two speakers do just as good of a job calling geese as four speakers do,” Gordon says.
“I use Avery Finisher layout blinds. I put my full-body decoys, my shell decoys and my speakers upwind from my hunters, who are hiding in the layout blinds in some type of brush. I use brush in the loops on the layout blinds to better camouflage the hunters. These layout blinds are extremely comfortable and have wing-type doors on either sides of the blinds, enabling the hunter to open those doors, mount his shotgun and take the geese when they’re within range. The blinds also have a back rest to allow the hunter to sit in a semi-upright position. When the doors of the blind are closed, only his head is outside of the blind. These lightweight blinds are made of canvas to keep the hunter dry. Because the walls cover all but the hunter’s head, they break the wind and keep the hunter much warmer than he will be if sitting on the ground. I like the Avery layout blinds because the hunter is totally concealed, except for his head. The hunters can look around at the geese and the other hunters, and they don’t flare up the geese coming in to them. The Avery layout blind allows the hunter to move around in the blind without being seen by the geese. These blinds are far more comfortable than the way we once hunted by putting carpet on the ground and staying still for hours at a time.”
Gordon generally hunts where there’s drainage ditches that grow up in grass, briars and small bushes out in the fields. The layout blinds are easy to hide in cover by brushing the side and the top of the blind up with the same type of foliage that’s in the ditch. Then the blinds and the hunters virtually disappear. If you’re hunting rice fields, you can put the layout blinds up against the levee and brush them in with the cover you find around the levee. There’s also room inside the blind for shotgun shells, snacks, water, additional head wear, gloves and almost anything else you want to have inside your blind. Gordon recommends that his hunters shoot 3 or 3-1/2 inch 12-gauge magnum shotguns. We used the new Winchester Blindside 3-inch Magnum BB shot (www.winchester.com). These shells patterned very well and had the power to bring down several geese out of every flock that came into the decoys.
To learn more about Mississippi Delta snow goose hunting with John Gordon from now until mid-March during the federal Conservation Snow Goose Season, go to www.midsouthgoosehunts.com, or call him at 901-606-7878.
For more information on the outdoors, click here to get John E. Phillips’ print and Kindle eBooks.