Using Electronic Calls for Snow Geese
Kyle Wintersteen, Managing Editor on 03/18/2015
Electronic calls are among several legal tools hunters can use during the spring “conservation order” snow goose seasons. Rightfully so: Hunters need this aid to cull booming populations of light geese, which continue to decimate their arctic nesting habitat.
However, there’s more to using digital sound than simply cranking some speakers and waiting for a snow-goose tornado to ensue. Here are the keys to decoying snows with an electronic caller.
Control the Volume
Many electronic-call speakers are capable of a jet-engine-like 110 decibels or more. That’s plenty of oomph to gain the attention of passing flocks, but don’t be overzealous.
“You have to control the volume,” says Corey Ganser, owner/head guide at Northern Migration Guide Service. “Tone it down as birds are working, just as you would with a non-electronic call. A lot of people leave the speakers blaring, which blows birds out of the hole.”
Research Your Equipment
There’s a great disparity in the electronic-call market in terms of quality. While a variety of homemade speakers are available on the cheap, their clarity is often questionable. Savvy snow geese will take note.
“It’s really important to research your purchase and buy a call box with the most crystal-clear sound you can afford,” said Ganser, who makes most of his own calls. “As far as the commercial market, FoxPro makes some really top-of-the-line products.”
Avoid ‘Dead Spots’
If someone can stand in your decoy spread and use his ears to pinpoint the location of your speakers, well, that’s a problem. Aim for consistent sound throughout the spread.
“You have to avoid those sound-free dead spots,” Ganser advised. “It seems silly, but when circling geese hear sound one second and then enter a dead spot, they pick up on it.”
Ganser employs six to eight speakers to ensure sound is projected throughout the spread. If your budget allows only one speaker, opt for a system designed to provide as close to 360-degree sound as possible. Other hunters use two speakers: One positioned within the spread and a handheld speaker that’s aimed at the birds.
Choose the Right Sounds
A variety of vocalizations are available. As when calling waterfowl without digital aid, the birds’ response to your calling dictates how to call on any given day. However, Ganser uses aggressive feeding chatter on most of his hunts.
“It’s just what I’ve found works for us,” he said. “Obviously we use it for field setups, but I use aggressive feeding sounds even when I’m hunting water. Other people might switch to flying sounds or something more relaxed when hunting a pasture pond or another water setup.”
Don’t Be Overconfident
Electronic calls provide an advantage over short-reed goose calls, but they aren’t magic. You still have to scout for birds, identify whether they’re feeding or loafing, and adequately conceal hunters.
“Scouting is absolutely the most important thing,” Ganser said. “Guys who just drive into South Dakota, find a cornfield and crank up the e-caller almost always end up disappointed.”