Refining Location Strategies for Geese

The rolling hills of the North Dakota wheat stubble all looked the same in the dark. As we bounced along over the rough ground, I was thankful we had taken the time to carefully plan this hunt. Without the extra effort from the day before, finding the one spot the geese were using would be nearly impossible.

I have learned the hard way the importance of carefully calculating the exact location for a goose spread. I know all too well the tricks that darkness plays in disorienting hunters as they search out the best place to set up.

Because of the issues created by darkness, and occasionally fog, I always try to make a trip into the field I am planning to hunt to get the lay of the land. I want to know exactly how things look and pick out the best spot in the daylight and not in the dark.


I remember the time I was shocked to find we had set up right next to an irrigation system. The geese didn’t seem to mind but it sure did make it difficult to pick our shots.

And then there was the morning we were surprised to find we had overshot our mark in the darkness and were set up on land we did not have permission to hunt. Another day we found ourselves too close to a brushy slough that flared the birds.

After having some disastrous outings, there are several techniques I now use to help pinpoint the exact location I want to hunt. Occasionally I will make a small pile of rocks to mark where to turn off of a field road. I will even place rocks or stubble debris in a manner that identifies the blind location.

If the fields are large and lacking identifiable features, a hand held GPS can be worth its weight in goose down. The GPS will also lay down a track to get you into the field by following a set route.

When I am in a field and looking for the best location for a spread, I am very conscious of visibility. I want to be able to see the horizon whenever possible. This not only reduces surprises but also makes the spread visible to distant geese. Picking a spot with great visibility is one of the most important strategies to follow.

There are times when I will use roost water as a focal point for my spread. It is critical to resist the temptation to set up next to the water. If you shine your truck lights on the water or set your spread too close, your chances for success are very slim.

Instead, move your spread far enough away that your pre dawn activity and early shooting does

not spook them. If they fly past your decoys on the way out, they may give your spread a look as they come back to the roost.

Whatever you do, don’t burn the roost! These birds can provide field shooting for days. Once byou burn the roost, they are gone.

Making good decisions for picking the best location in a field to place your spread comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience comes from making bad decisions.

If at all possible, pick your location during the day and mark it in a way you can find the exact spot in the dark. This simple strategy will pay big dividends once the birds start flying.

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