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Learning to READ!
In my last column..."Real Field Calling" I talked about some basic tips to get a flock to finish into your decoys. As much as we would all like to have it work that way every time, it simply doesn't happen. In this column I will go more in depth about the reading of birds along with some techniques I use to help finish more flocks into my spread.
A bird's posture will often times, let you know his state of mind, just by his body language. This can be a simple as a "paused" wing beat or extreme as falling 500 feet with his feet down. Either way, they all have one thing in common, that bird is telling you what you should be doing.
The first bird that paused or stopped the wing beat has just told you "I am looking at you". Now that you have the birds attention there is a possibility to get the bird to come take a closer look. So from here on, it is up to you to convince him. Convincing the bird to come take a closer look can be done by really fast excited calling. This consists of series of super fast clucks; sometimes refer to it as a "rattle". The fast clucking will often times make them decide they better come take a look. Now that you have the birds full attention you are ready to start setting up the scenario that I talked about earlier.
A bird that locks his wings at a high elevation and floats down does not need a whole lot of help to finish. The bird's body posture is telling you two things. He has bought the scenario and two you better grab your gun! In a situation like this I would not over do it and give him some soft clucks, feeding growls, and moans. This bird doesn't need anything more then confidence, so, be careful not to over do it.
A bird that is circling will continue to give you clues on his state of mind. This is where it gets more technical. The birds wing beats will tell you if he is seriously thinking about it or just looking. If the bird has a slow wing beat it is seriously thinking about making his approach. If the bird continues on the same circle but doesn't change wing beats, being a consistent up and down motion, swinging wide over your spread. Then he is probably just looking. Each of them requires a little different calling strategy.
A bird with wings stiff and it almost appears that the only thing moving is the wingtips needs to hear something that will make up its mind. I want too give him something that is going to make him turn and lock his wings. I do this with a series of clucks by starting out slow with feeding growls then into clucks, getting faster to the peak, then back down the same way and finishing back into the feeding growls. This is the call an excited goose does and is super deadly on these geese.
The second bird is looking over your decoy spread and really isn't that interested. This bird is going to be more difficult to convince. This is where loud and fast calling will often times make him get serious about getting to the ground. Don't be afraid to hammer on this bird, he needs to hear something that will make him think he is missing out on.
When a bird has lost interest and is leaving your spread it's your job to turn him around. Depending on the time of year this can be done several different ways. Early in the season an "ehh ohh" come back call is deadly on geese, but it doesn't take long for birds to figure it out. Doing this mid too late season is going to do nothing but send them out...QUICKLY! Later in the season, I use either super fast clucking or fast series of double clucks to turn them around. If they are leaving, let's face it you have nothing to loose. So in this situation, use all your skills and try whatever it takes to turn them around. If it doesn't work at least you tried and will learn from the experience.
While these are just a few instances and every situation is different. Knowing when to call is more important than calling. A lot of flocks are lost every year because someone made a mistake and said something at the wrong time. If you can read the birds and have an idea of what they want to hear, you will definitely see an increase in success.
So until next time... GOOD HUNTING!
Avery Regional Pro Staff
...much more to come
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