Archive for Sunday, January 7, 2007

Laying low

Goose hunters find success is in the details

January 7, 2007


— In rag-tag formation nine Canada geese coasted into Thursday morning's breeze, scanning a wheat field for danger as they neared what appeared to be a flock of feeding geese.

Some of Mother Nature's best eye were fooled until Cody Doane and Jerod Sharp seemingly rose from nearly barren ground and shot three birds from the flock.

"Being well-hidden's the most important thing in goose hunting," Doane said. "Scouting's important but you can often pull geese into a new field if they're passing by. If you're not hidden really well you're never going to do any good."

The Wichita State students take the concept of concealment to extremes.

Nearly two hours before dawn they pulled a sizable trailer to the edge of a wheat field frequented by geese.

Opening the trailer's back door revealed a mass of full-bodied, shell and silhouette fakes.

Doane and Sharp spent the next hour toting the mixed total of about 100 decoys, which they arranged into a 50-yard spread.

Next came their most important preparation.

On the last load they brought layout blinds. Rather than the rigid, high-profile, camo-patterned style, theirs laid low and were made of dull, khaki-colored cloth.

The hunters spent the next 15 minutes dampening the blinds with a squirt bottle they refilled from a gallon jug of water.

Amid the sprays they sprinkled handfuls of top soil from the field. Well-coated and camoed, the blinds were laid within a depression of a few inches that ran through the decoys.

"The lower the better," Doane said.

A handful of silhouette dekes were poked into the ground to help break the blinds' outlines.

At dawn Sharp walked around the spread, eyeing blinds at all angles from 20 yards.

"You just can't see them," he said as he moved about. "It looks good."

So things must have looked good to the geese that started arriving minutes later.

Lured by the sounds of Doane's calls and the movement of Sharp's flags, several singles and small flocks calmly flew to the spread.

Picking only for-sure shots they had their combined limits of six Canadas in about an hour.

It took about as long to pack the decoys and blinds, and haul them to the trailer.

"I guess some people would think I'm a little extreme to go to all of this," Doane said along the way. "But it sure seems to work."


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